Management By Walking Around (MBWA)

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Are you an accessible leader?  The most effective leaders don't focus only on the immediate responsibilities of their positions and remain invisible to their employees.  Instead, effective leaders strive to be visible and approachable.  They encourage comments, suggestions, and even critical feedback from staff at many levels.

Of course there is more to MBWA than just being seen.  Your primary responsibility as a leader is to develop more leaders.  And that won't happen by magic, no matter how much time you spend among your teammates.  There are three characteristics that define and shape effective MBWA.

A personable, walking around style is simply not possible when it's forced or hurried.  Remember, the goal is to foster relationships, and that's something that just can't be done if it is obvious that you are rushing to your next appointment.  Your team members will pick up on any lack of sincerity, and that will make your team building efforts much more difficult.

Rather than just spending time with those who report directly to you, get out and visit with the front-line workers as well.  Make sure that this becomes a regular process.  Lack of consistency is likely to be seen as lack of commitment on your part.  Management by walking around allows you to be perceived as actively interested in team members as people.

Through engagement, you can gain valuable information as you encourage impromptu discussions with individual workers or small groups.  Use your walking around time to ask important questions and observe your front-line team members in action.  Provide good news and information as well, by sharing success stories and your personal vision.  And, don't forget to offer your sincere thanks and appreciation for the meaningful contributions that they make.

MBWA, properly implemented, sends a positive message to those responsible for your organization's success--your team members.  It demonstrates your interest in them as individuals and in the work they do.  And, it also permits you to stay in touch with the pulse of your organization while conveying a positive example of leadership.