There are many different "styles" to management. Some good, some bad, and others just pointless. One of the styles (or better: strategies) that I employ is MBWA: Management By Walking Around.
There's are many ideas about what this form of management entails (like HERE, HERE, & HERE), but one of the things that I these examples lack is the the discussion surrounding the intentionality and depth of relationship that can come about through MBWA.
One article discusses the risks of employees feelings "spied on" while the other two place the focus largely on "chit-chat." I believe if done correctly and with a goal in mind, MBWA can be one of the most effective forms of management around. Here's why:
- Focus on people AND product
- Measurable & promotes accountability
- Keeps dialogue open and constant, without clogging communication lines
- Allows management to maintain a pulse on the front lines of their department
I have developed 3 specific connections that I look for out of any MBWA conversations I have. They are:
1. Be Personal. Relationships are not built on professional connections alone, but rather through connecting on issues or discussions of common ground. From sports, to family to <gasp> politics...these help to create a basis for the other 2 connections to have legitimate depth and substance. How can I ask for transparency through accountability with no trust or goodwill.
2. Be Productive. Monitoring staff productivity is just a part of management. Not babysitting, but true managing. Based on the foundations of the personal connection, it is actually easy to simply be updated on what is going on at that snapshot in time.
3. Be Proactive. Most people want to manage a team that is full of passionate and hungry employees. Staff that are eager to learn, work hard and enjoy (most of the time) their job. I believe it is a managers job to push their staff to think proactively and always be looking to pick up the next; file, client account, idea, opportunity, etc. Without being distracted from the task at hand, having a team that does not sit idle does not just encourage growth in the bottom-line, but helps promote value on the balance sheet, creating teamwork and a climate of innovative discipline.
When it all gets boiled down to the basic, MBWA is effective because it uses the benefits of spontaneity (if a meeting is planned, people have time to come up with their B.S story of why the work isn't done) why channeling the personal touch of being in relationship (to varying degrees) with each person you manage.
The big DISCLAIMER on this whole post however is that obviously, each situation requires a "made to fit" approach. MBWA works with an informal, yet structured work environments with teams more than 3 but less than 15. If a manager of 100 people tried MBWA, it wouldn't be MBWA...it would be exercise!