Walk and Wander Among Your Employees
Aug 12 2019
Great managers come with skills and deficits, just like great employees. You might bring in the bottom line, project-manage with flair, and keep your boss happy. At the same time, you might also need to improve your communication with your employees, your relationship to your team, and your visibility within the organization. People want to feel connected to an organization and that means they want to be connected to YOU, their superior. In that case, coach and communication expert Susan Mikulay suggests MBWA, aka walking and wandering.
Management by Walking (or Wandering) Around – is a management technique Bill Hewlett and David Packard pioneered within their mega-computer company. At its core, MBWA promotes being there and stresses being present for your employees in a face-to-face capacity versus communicating constantly via email and memos.
From a management standpoint, MBWA helps you keep your finger on the pulse of your department/team and have a better handle on what is happening throughout the organization as well, so it is often a win-win.
Does MBWA take more time? Of course, it does, but the managers who have used this technique say the productivity you receive in return is well worth the investment.
Tips for getting started
Be consistent. MBWA only works if you make time to walk around every day and for at least 30 minutes each time to be truly present and visible.
Be approachable (humble). Your goal is not to walk into the center of the break room and yell “Here I am to save the day!” like Mighty Mouse. You’re simply wandering around to see who’s doing what, and to let your colleagues know you see them and you care about them.
Be inclusive. You need to see everyone on your team within the week. If you routinely see just a portion of your team, others will feel left out and you won’t have accomplished even the very basic of goals of MBWA. You don’t need to see everybody every day – but you do need to spread yourself among the masses.
Be alone. Don’t bring a crew with you when you walk the halls. First, I refer you back to the “approachable” bullet above. Second, as a manager, your goal is to hear first-hand from as many people as possible regarding the issues that keep them up at night. Once you get into the groove of MBWA, this will become clearer. For now, trust me, you want to walk around on your own.
Be genuine. Finally, listen for the genuine in others and the genuine in you will naturally emerge. All employees really want is to know that you care.
Be present. Ask questions. Truly listen. Respond honestly. Be yourself. MBWA takes time, but it works and it’s worth it.
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