Move away from your computer

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Tracey House
  • 28th Medical Support Squadron
The Air Force Professional Development Guide states, "Subordinate leadership development is one of the most important responsibilities of every Air Force leader. Developing future leaders should be one of your highest priorities. Your legacy and the future of the Air force rest on the shoulders of those you prepare for greater responsibility." This statement is more important than ever as ops tempo increases and with few resources. I'd like to share an idea that has helped me throughout my career. Move away from your computer.

Throughout the past 10 years, the Air Force has become reliant on computers to accomplish day-to-day tasks. We have the ability to request information instantly. We no longer need to train our personnel in a classroom, because we have an abundance of computer-based training. Does this mean we are more effective?

Much of our technological capabilities are great, but we have a tendency to forget about the human factor.

In my experience, I've had more successes in accomplishing a task by simply going to a duty section for a face-to-face conversation or picking up a phone to talk to someone.

Face-to-face supervision is the most effective way of evaluating the performance of an individual or team. By doing this, it saves time because many questions and concerns can be addressed at one time rather than multiple e-mails. This is not suggesting that you spend hours away from your office, but a simple morning visit can have an immense impact. By walking around, one can actually see how processes and subordinates are working. Eyes-on provides you the ability to see first-hand if a process isn't working and gives you ideas on how to improve. You can tell if someone is having difficulties with professional or personal aspects of their life by their non-verbal communication or by noticing a change in their personality. You can also observe if their dress and appearance is up-to-par and correct deficiencies on the spot.

Let's face it, there are many things you can tell about an individual or section if you just get out from behind your desk and look - the possibilities are endless.

By doing this, you will notice and address problems before they get out of control. You ultimately save yourself hours of paperwork and unnecessary counseling sessions. The single most important thing to do as a leader is to get out and about within the unit. Bottom line: supervisors must supervise!

In the words of Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force Rodney McKinley's "Enlisted Perspective," dated Sept. 7, 2007, Chief McKinley wrote, "for Airmen to be successful supervisors they must be involved from the start."

This phrase is probably the best advice to pass on to a supervisor.

Now, before you get back to your computer, think about the last time you made face-to-face visits with your subordinates. If for one reason or another it has been some time, I challenge you to move away from your computer!