I tweeted this the other day:
“As a supervisor, every interaction counts & is a fantastic opportunity to nurture the valuable members of your team”
I had just had a fantastic hour and a half hanging out with the Graduate Assistant that I supervise. We had finished the work day and walked over to the Physics building where they were having an afternoon astronomy gazing. Then we went to dinner together in one of the dining halls.
While it was 100% unstructured time, it was a great opportunity for the two of us to just talk. Granted, we crossed over all sorts of different topics during our conversation. As her supervisor I really valued having that time to chat. It was great to share parts of me that I had not yet shared, to learn about her experiences, and to do some combined brainstorming about our supervision area.
I know many have said that you are “always on” as the leader. I completely agree with this. Part of being “always on” is realizing what each moment can truly bring. For the two of us, the 90 minutes spent together walking around campus, gazing through a telescope, and eating was full of extremely valuable time spent investing in our professional relationship.
So, if somehow your schedule hands you an extra spot of time with someone you supervise – take advantage of it! Use that time to connect beyond the daily grind of your position. Invest in your relationship!