Management by Wandering

How often do you connect with your team – chat with them, work alongside them, ask question and be there to help when needed?

This practice is called Management By Wandering Around (or Management By Walking About) – MBWA for short. Yes, it’s been a concept that’s been around for quite a while. So this is a gentle reminder of what it can accomplish.

Benefits: It Can Increase:

  • Communication: When your staff sees you as a person and not just a boss, they’ll trust you more and will be more likely      to tell you what’s going on. You’ll get the chance to learn about issues before they become problems.
  • Accountability:  When you interact regularly with your team, everyone is more motivated to follow through, because you’re seeing each other on a regular basis.
  • Productivity: Many creative ideas come from casual exchanges so people will more likely feel free to come to you with their ideas for continuous improvement.
  • Morale: People often feel better about their jobs and their organization when they have opportunities to be heard.

Wandering Around Tips:
To be successful, it takes more than simply strolling through your office, warehouse, or production facility. MBWA is a determined and genuine effort to understand your staff, what they do, and what you can do to make their work more effective.

  • Ask for feedback and ideas:  Let everyone know that you want ideas to make things better. As the boss, people may think that your opinions and ideas are “right.” So hold back from saying what you think – the goal is to see what others have to say.
  • At the same time, share information: Your “walk-arounds” are opportunities to talk about company goals that can help everyone understand what they do is important.
  • Answer questions openly and honestly:  If you don’t know an answer, find out and then follow up. If you can’t share something, say so. Telling half-truths can break down trust.
  • Wander around equally:  Don’t spend more time in one department or section than another. And don’t always talk to the same people or to people with certain ranks. You want to be approachable to everyone, regardless of job title or position.
  •  Turn the conversation away from work to them as people: Learn the names of your staff’s kids. Find out what they love to do or where they’re going on vacation. Joke, laugh, and have fun.

Smart Moves Tip:
How can you use Management By Wandering Around to help you achieve your leadership goals? Ask yourself the following:

  • When was the last time you walked around your office or department? Why did you walk around? Were you looking for things that people were doing poorly or doing well? What did you learn?
  • Do you know the first and last names of all your team members? This is a must. What else do you know about them – their hobbies, their family, their other talents?
  • Do you know more about a small group of your staff vs. all staff, or more about one department vs. others? Why have you been focusing your attention on just those people? Do you think the rest of the staff sees this as favoritism?

Marcia Zidle, the smart moves executive coach and speaker, is host of The Business Edge on the Voice America Business Network. The show features the Smart Growth System providing small to medium sized businesses the proper foundation for expansion: a Growth Agenda that becomes their roadmap, a Growth Engine that attracts and engages the best talent and Growth Leaders that make it happen. Marcia, the CEO of Leaders At All Levels, brings street smarts to help businesses get on the right track and not get sidetracked on their path to higher performance and profitability.