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How to Apply Management by Wandering Around (MBWA)

If you are a business owner or a manager, you need to have a connection with the team you are leading. Being connected to your team allows you to understand your team members, stay informed about what is happening and find solutions for pertinent needs. This will eventually have an impact on the success of your organization.

Management by Wandering Around (MBWA) is a management technique which enables business owners and managers to get connected to their staff. It involves literally walking around, interacting with people, asking questions and offering help where necessary. Here are some of the potential outcomes of MBWA:

  • Trust – Trust will be enhanced as your team gets more comfortable around you. As a result, you are likely to share more information with them, thus eliminating barriers of communication
  • Approachability – When people start seeing you as one of them, they are more likely to approach you with their issues. This way, you will get to know about problems before they get worse
  • Accountability – As you interact more freely with your staff, it will be easier to hold them accountable to their commitments
  • Business knowledge – Getting regular information and feedback from your team will give you a better idea of how to run your business. This is likely to result in higher productivity
  • Morale – When people know that their ideas and opinions are valued, they are likely to have a higher morale

However, MBWA is not just simply about walking through your factory, warehouse or office. It should involve a sincere desire to understand your staff, their roles and what can be done to enhance their effectiveness. Here are some suggestions for applying MBWA in your organization:

  • Practice ‘active listening’ – When it comes to MBWA, listening is a very important skill. However, to become a better listener, you need to apply active listening. Pay attention to the speaker and watch their body language. This way, you will understand what is being said beyond the words. Avoid the temptation of interrupting the speaker before they are done. After listening, you can then give a respectful and sincere response to what was said.  
  • Relax – Having overly formal conversations with your staff will only result in rigid responses. Therefore, be sure to lighten up when interacting with your team. When people sense your relaxed disposition, they are likely to respond accordingly
  • Allocate your time equally – Avoid the temptation of spending more time in some departments than others. This is likely to give an impression of favouritism. In addition, don’t only talk to people of a particular job rank. Everyone should have equal access to you, regardless of their job position
  • Hold meetings ‘on location’ – While out and about, you can actually have meetings with staff at their work stations. When in familiar surroundings, they are likely to be more relaxed and willing to open up
  • Offer spontaneous recognition – Look out for employees who are doing a great job and compliment them on the spot. Public recognition of their efforts will go a long way in boosting their morale. However, mistakes should be addressed in private
  • Chat casually – Don’t limit your conversations to only work matters. Have casual chats with your workers. Ask them what their hobbies are. Find out the names of their children. Relating at a personal level will greatly enhance relationships with your team

As much as MBWA can be an effective management strategy, it should not be overdone. People don’t appreciate having someone perpetually looking over their shoulders.

Image: Flickr, Startup Stock Photos

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