I’d like to suggest that we bring back management by walking around. MBWA was originally introduced as a technique used by effective managers who use proactive listening as a way to hear unfiltered, real-time information that is often not offered through traditional communication channels. By walking around, the manager gets an idea of the level of morale and can offer proactive help.
However, as organizations have been flattened and expands of control broadened, a manager’s time has gone to fighting fires and facing the demands of a competitive marketplace and sluggish economy. Unfortunately, time for managers to walk around has been the casualty.
I have a friend who says she probably wouldn’t recognize the division leader that she works under if she saw him. He spends all of his time in meetings and behind closed doors.
Never underestimate the power of leadership visibility. People interview with leaders and often join a company because of that particular interview. They love the leader, they’re excited about their ideas, so they join the company and then fail to see the leader grace their doorstep for months – if they ever do again.
Suddenly their communication comes from an immediate supervisor who sees the leader about as often as they do. A team’s productivity is directly related to feeling like they matter, that they are working towards an exciting goal, and that their leader sees the value they add. If they are working in a vacuum, all of their energy is going to be sucked out of them.
Would you play on a football team where the coach is never seen on the sidelines? Would you stay engaged in a classroom where the teacher is in meetings with the Principal all day?
Probably not. So, even if it’s only for ten minutes a day, a leader should:
The one moment when a leader acknowledges an employee could keep them motivated for a month.
So, no matter what your level of leadership, go on a managerial walk-about, and see what you learn. The value you will derive from stepping into the day-to-day could be incredibly valuable to you as well.
The times that are toughest are the very times you should be visible and accessible, even if for only a few minutes each day.