Management By Wandering Around (MBWA)

Gone are the days when managers and leaders can sit in their office dealing with the day to day tasks they need to do and not taking note of what is happening outside.

Managers and leaders that do this tend to communicate with their team by email, delegate tasks by outlook and only talk to people when things go wrong.

By doing this they don’t get to build effective relationships with the team and this can impact on performance.

Management by Wandering Around (or Management by Walking Around) can be traced back to the executives of Hewlett-Packard in the 1970’s and was described by Tom Peters in his book IN search of Excellence. It shows that in order to get the best from people and really understand what is going on in the team, a manager or leader needs to walk around and talk to the team.

They need to work alongside the team members, asking questions about them and their work and offer help, support, feedback and coaching when needed.

Seems easy? Of course it is, but often excuses such as ‘there’s more pressing things to do’ are used. Using Management by Walking Around required the leader or manager to be disciplined and take time to do this.

Using Management by Walking Around improves your visibility as a manger or leader and give the team the perception that you are approachable. They are much more likely to approach you with issues and concerns rather than keep them to themselves. It builds trust and helps the leader learn more about the team and what’s going on in the business. It increases motivation and productivity.

Here are some quick tips for making Management by Walking Around work:

Make Time – No matter how busy you are, remind yourself of the benefits of getting out there and talking to the team. Make it a part of your daily routine.

Do It Along – Done bring the whole management team with you. This can be daunting and people are less likely to talk

Don’t Single People Out – Take time to talk to everyone. If its a big team, then make sure you get to everyone over the space of say a week

Ask Questions and Follow Up – Ask people for feedback, ask what the challenges are, ask how things are in general. If you need to be sure to get back to people with feedback if you need to go away and look into something

Keep it Positive – This isn’t about giving developmental feedback, its about fact-finding or gathering information. If you are going to give feedback keep it general and keep it positive – like thanking people for all they do.

Be Self-Aware – Take care and think about your body language and your language. Keep it friendly and informal

Keep it Random – Although you want to make it part of your routine, don’t keep it at the same time each day. The more people come to expect it they more they think ‘here they come again’. Use Management by Wandering Around randomly. It should be unstructured.

To find out more about other leadership and management techniques why not take a look at our Leadership Training Courses. You can find out more information on our Leadership Skills Training Courses page here.