Making a habit of stopping by to chat with your employees face to face on a regular basis to get a sense of how they’re doing: this is known as management by wandering, or management by wandering around (MBWA). Being a success story starts with caring for the people who work for you. When you show genuine interest, compassion, care and attention on a regular basis, your employees will pay you back in kind by going to bat for you when you need it.
As business goes, it’s the easiest thing you’ll do all day. It doesn’t take any great feat of strength, but its rewards are a hundred-fold. Just get up from your desk once a day and take a stroll around the office. Check in on your people. Make sure they’re OK and listen to whatever may be on their minds. Engage them in basic conversation. Ask them about their work process, perhaps a customer they may be dealing with, or even a challenge they may be facing. It doesn’t really matter what it’s about. What matters is the connection you’re making.
Making a Connection
MBWA, a concept outlined in Tom Peters and Robert Waterman’s 1982 bestseller In Search of Excellence, became a buzzword for up-close-and-personal management. Steve Jobs practiced this approach. So did Bill Hewlett and David Packard.
At its core, management by wandering helps you become more visible, connect with employees, share ideas, and invite suggestions for how things can be done better, points out Fortune.
If you make a habit of MBWA, you’ll discover that your employees will tell you things that you wouldn’t know otherwise. As a result, you can add value to their lives. It doesn’t always have to be about work. Ask about their kids or how things are at home. Nothing too personal, yet personal all the same.
If you’re open to this and do it often, your employees will get comfortable with the fact that there will be no negative repercussions to what they tell you. They’ll know they can speak freely, and may even reveal a challenge or difficulty you may be able to help with.
To make MBWA a part of your life as a boss, heed these tips:
- Make MBWA part of your daily or weekly routine.
- Make time to visit everyone at least once throughout the week.
- Follow up with answers to their questions.
- Don’t undermine or criticize.
The key to management by wandering is sincerity. It can’t be a breezy sprint around the office with generic questions and statements, which can send the signal that you really don’t have the time for invested conversation. Instead, take the time to stop at desks, sit down, and give them a few minutes of your undivided attention. That’s where the real connection comes in.
You may not be able to do this every day but if you create a rapport with your employees regularly, they will soon see you actually care about them and that they’re not just another number. Consider this a big opportunity to develop a relationship and create a bond. In turn, you’ll have dedicated employees who will be there for you, acting as a resource you can draw on in the future.
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