Jack Palance was one of the great movie tough guys of all time. And in City Slickers, Palance got to be both tough and comedic as Curly Washburn. Washburn was the grizzled old cowboy who faces off against the city slickers led by Billy Crystal, who come to his dude ranch for vacation.
Curly tells the slickers that the secret of life is “one thing.” When he mouths the phrase, he holds up one finger to emphasize his point.
We never find out what Curly’s secret of life is. But I can tell you the one thing that’s the secret of success as a supervisor.
If you’re a boss, part of your job is supervision. That’s where you work directly with your team members. That’s where you’re concerned with behavior and performance.
The one thing you should do is simple. Show up a lot.
If you show up a lot, good things start to happen. For starters, the fact that you’re around ceases to be a special event. That eliminates all the wasted motion when team members think they should present you with a special, “sanitized” version of the workplace.
Many supervisors only show up when they’ve got news to deliver. That news affects the lives of team members. Their stress levels often increase because they don’t know what kind of news will be coming their way. When you show up a lot, that stress goes away.
When you show up a lot you maximize the opportunities to let your team members know what’s important. You maximize the opportunities to learn about each of them. You learn what people do well. You catch problems early.
Most importantly, when you show up a lot you create opportunities to have the conversations that are the basis of all good supervision. Those conversations are where you develop relationships and knowledge that help you accomplish the mission while you care for your people.
Boss’s Bottom Line
Showing up a lot is easy but very few supervisors do it. If you do, you, your team, and your team members will all do better.