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Management by Walking Around

As a manager, you are considered a leader. As one, you are entrusted with the responsibility of bringing people up to what they have to do. You are the leader, the person that everyone looks up to, and if you want your team to step up, then you will have to step up, yourself. Managing your staff is not easy. You are dealing with all kinds of personalities and if you are handling a big team, it could be very hard to divide your attention among each one of them. Management by Walking Around or Management By Wandering Around (MBWA) is a management style that is slowing making noise in the management world. It involves walking around in the workplace to check everything, the people, the equipment and the workplace itself.

The Beginning of Management by Walking Around

Every year, more and more companies get established and they only seem to get larger and larger. Maintaining regular interaction with employees becomes difficult and limited to correspondence via mail and interoffice chat. This is not very good for the workplace, so to improve the performance and productivity of the company, MBWA is encouraged.

The method was popularized in the early 1980s because many of the managers noticed a strain in the relationships they kept with their subordinates. When it was first introduced in 1973, it helped the people at Hewlett-Packard to become more visible in their respective teams. Increased visibility improved the performance of the staff because they enjoyed the more accessible relationship they have with their boss.

Rules to Follow When Walking in the Workplace

If you have decided to apply Management By Walking Around as a strategy to properly watch over your subordinates, there are some things that you have to concern yourself with. Here are some guidelines that you can follow:

  • Do it yourself. If you are going to implement this strategy, do it yourself and do not ask your assistant to do it for you. It is your physical presence that will matter in this practice and not mere representation and intimidation. Your goal here is to spend one-on-one time with the different people in your team, so you cannot assign this job to anyone else, but yourself.

  • Do not be partial. You have to go to everyone. If you are going around, you have to go around to all areas and speak to everyone in your team. You might want to make a mental route that will help you go through the entire floor, without missing anyone.  

  • Do it regularly. If you are going to start MBWA, then you have to make a habit of doing it on a regular basis. You cannot do this once and then never do it again. If you want this strategy to be effective, you have to do it regularly. But do not do it too regularly that people will be able to follow your pattern. You still have to catch them by surprise so that you can see them, when they are not expecting it.

  • Challenge and inspire them. When you are taking your walks around the office, see what they are doing and ask them some questions about it. Challenge them with some thoughts you have and find out what they have to say about it. Share some stories that will inspire the people and listen to what they have to say. Make the most of the little time you have because it can do so much.

  • Do not be too critical. If you are going to be critical about the work they are doing, try not to embarrass them in public. Be critical, without forgetting the importance of professionalism, and should there be a big concern that you have to put on the table, talk to them in private. Your walks around the office should not be tainted in a negative way since it was designed to promote productivity and positivity.

Walking Around in the Workplace

Walking around in the workplace is very simple. It is so much like brisk walking around the park, but it serves a purpose. It is like walking around in the mall or walking around in a museum, although it should not be the kind of relaxing walk you enjoy. Walking around the workplace involves so much more than just taking a leisurely walk around because it enables you to strike impromptu discussions with members of your staff. You do not have to send them notices through emails if you want to reach them. You can make sure that your messages get delivered firsthand.

However, when you are walking around, be prepared for the following:

If any of your staff presents you with a problem, you should be able to offer some help. This is a great opportunity for you to show them just how competent you are, as their superior, and this will inspire them to work harder. Make sure that you are ready and you are knowledgeable about the operations in your company, so that you will not be caught in an embarrassing situation.

  • During your rounds, you will be confronted with all kinds of things. Some of your staff will try to start a conversation with you and you should be able to lend them an ear. This will show them that you care well enough to give them your time.

  • Some employees, especially those that have not been with the company for very long, may still be a stranger to the company’s mission and vision. Your rounds can become more useful, when you exert some effort to instill in them what truly matters to the company.

  • With the amount of interaction you are given, a stronger relationship can be built between you and your subordinates. You can initiate after-office gatherings such as coffee or lunch.

Benefits You can Get from Management by Walking Around

Are you thinking of using MBWA? This method has been used for quite some time now, and if you are still wondering if this is going to be a good course to take, here are some benefits that you can enjoy from it:

  • It creates a healthy organization. A workplace where people get along very well is a good workplace to be in. When there is harmony and relative transparency, people are more motivated to work and they are happy to be functioning as a team.

  • It establishes trust. Imagine a workplace where your boss is only a name on the plate, and a figure you see during company events and meetings. When you do not know the person, it is harder to trust them. If you want to be able to trust your people, you should show them that you could be trusted, as well.

  • It motivates people to work well. Since the rounds will somehow function as regular inspections, your people will be on their toes because they would not want to be scolded and criticized in public. Instead of being noticed for the things that they do wrong, they would want to be noticed for the things that they do well, so that they could impress you, and get a proud pat on their backs.

Management Cares

Some people think that to be able to manage their subordinates they have to be fierce and scary. They believe that when people are afraid, they will keep themselves from performing badly. Is this really how you would want your people to be? Do you really want them to work because they are scared of you and not because they care? When the managers care, the people will see that, and soon enough they will learn how to care for the company, too.