top of page

Getting around to get ahead: it's time to 'walk the floor'.

In one of my first EA roles, I worked for a very serious man, well he was for the most part; he would yell for me from his office, be stern in his direction, and clear about what he did and didn’t do. But without fail, he would ‘walk the floor’ for up to 4 hours each week. During that time, he wore a different sort of leadership hat. He would turn up at someone’s desk (insert a stunned mullet look from the surprised employee!) and chat to them. He would joke and smile – for such a serious man, he had a huge smile that warmed up a room. He and the team member would engage away from the seriousness of his office or meeting room environment, discuss tasks, and home life. It was a guaranteed moment each week that he related and connected to his team in an authentic way.

When I first watched him ‘walk the floor’ I thought it was a stroke of genius. I immediately added it to my toolkit. As the touchpoint between the team and boss, it was important I walked the floor to understand the murmurings, grumbles, quiet triumphs or challenges the team was having.

So when I started in a new organisation, I would spend about two hours each week walking the floor. While I was getting used to the idea, I armed myself with a work task – perhaps Susan had a brief due in a few days and I wanted to check she was all ok to meet the deadline. Over time I became more comfortable just grabbing a cuppa and chatting. They got used to the idea too. While I was an extension of my executive, I was also the touchpoint between the two. I came to know Ben’s wicked and dry sense of humour and practiced my dodgy Italian with Stefano. I heard the grumblings from overstretched teams, found out about a celebration or milestone, and connected with the team as an emotionally professional extension of my executive. And while I never disclosed the discreet details, unless I made the judgement call to, it helped me to bridge the power gap between the boss and the team who contributed to his success.

I could encourage my executive to extend the deadline if someone’s kids were sick, acknowledge the work of someone who often flew under the radar or book a morning tea to celebrate a milestone in someone’s life.

So, jump into your diary now, and block out some time this week. Being the cultural touchpoint to your executive and team is a strategic position to be in and one that will contribute to your, and your boss’, success.


bottom of page