Monday, 12 June 2017

Why senior managers should wear walking boots

We have framed pictures of walking boots that we sometimes present to clients! As well as being a bit of fun they act as an important reminder.

The definition of management by wandering around (MBWA), also management by walking around,  refers to a style of business management which involves managers wandering around, in an unstructured manner, through the workplace, at random, to check with employees about how they are, understanding their view of the world and how any particular piece of work or activity might be going. The critical word is ‘wandering’ because it is the unstructured and (hopefully) naturalistic approach of the manager to staff that makes the big difference. It generates a sense of genuine interest from the manager with regard to the individual and what is happening in their part of the business.

However, MBWA is not solely an activity with regard to staff motivation. Such an approach will regularly provide the manager with insights they otherwise could never gain.  While the production qualities of such reality TV programmes as BBC 2’s ‘Back to the shop floor’ and Channel Four’s ‘Undercover boss’ might be questionable, the principle of MBWA underpins their existence. The notion of the manager getting out of their office, away from the small circle of colleagues with whom they usually communicate and instead listening to those ‘at the sharp end’ not only makes compelling viewing, but also makes perfect business sense.

On the reverse of the picture of the walking boots we print the following hints to try and make sure our clients’ MBWA really works;
  • Be informal - let people see that you are genuinely interested
  • Practice your very best listening skills, try and let them do most of the talking
  • Ask for feedback and ideas
  • Encourage questions
  • Don’t just wander with a few people, make sure you spread yourself evenly
  • When you see something good happening let them know you are impressed
  • Don’t use wandering time being judgemental, if you see something that is not right plan to go back and address the issue later
  • Don’t overdo it so that people feel you are being  intrusive but do it regularly enough so people are not surprised
  • Enjoy yourself it is one of the best things you can ever do as an effective manager

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