Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Keep On Wandering

I sware by Tom Peters' Management By Wandering Around (MBWA). It’s really more than what the name implies. It’s not enough for leaders to just “walk around”. It’s also not “just a theory”. MBWA has been embraced, over the years, by highly successful organizations such as Hewlett-Packard, GE, PepsiCo, LucasFilm, Disney, and 3M.

As you “wander”, in order to be effective, you should be doing at least these three things:
• listening to what staff are saying,
• using the opportunity to continuously discuss the organization’s values face-to-face, and
• be prepared AND able to give people on-the-spot assistance.

At first, staff may suspect that MBWA is just an excuse for you to spy and interfere. That'll subside when they see the walk-arounds happening regularly, and they see that it actually benefits THEM. It works best when staff see that you are genuinely interested in them and their work and also see that you are there to listen and help. If things you see or hear require some type of follow-up, then make sure you take care of it.

Here are a few tips to assist in making MBWA a success:
• Publicize the fact that you are out wandering 50% of the time.
• Appear relaxed as you make your rounds. Staff will reflect your feelings and actions.
• Remain open and responsive to their questions and concerns.
• Observe and listen.
• Make sure your visits are spontaneous.
• Talk with staff about what they like – family, hobbies, vacations, or sports.
• Ask for suggestions to improve operations, service, etc.
• Try to spend equal time in all areas.
• Have meetings in others’ spaces rather than your own office all the time.
• Catch staff members doing something right and recognize them publicly.
• Convey the image of a coach – NOT an inspector.
• Encourage your staff members to show you how the “real work” of the company gets done.

The point is - make your walk-arounds count. Go out there with a purpose, and make a difference.

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