Years ago, people were told the key to being a successful manager was to “walk around”. The idea was managers should get out of their offices, wander around, chat with employees, and make their presence known. In fact, the idea was so popular it was given the catchy title of “management by walking around” and nicknamed MBWA.
Fast forward to today’s business environment. We have virtual teams, telecommuting and flextime. Work involves new technologies. Recently, I was having breakfast with one of my former bosses. She said something that really stuck with me. “I spend all my time in my office. I’m so busy working on spreadsheets. There’s no time to walk around anymore.”
Spreadsheets and reports are important. Businesses aren’t going to ditch them. But somehow, managers have to find time to connect with their teams. If they don’t, that disconnect will impact the bottom-line. Those kinds of disconnects manifest themselves in poor communications, sacrifices in quality, decreased morale and sloppy customer service.
How can managers “wander around” in today’s competitive work environment?
Take the walk. Stepping away from your desk can be a good thing. It’s exercise. Use some of those moments when you need to take a break to visit employees.
Wander around virtually. Really can’t get away? Is your team thousands of miles away? Check in using email or the social collaboration tools your company provides.
There’s a reason Management by Walking Around became so popular. It works. Managers building relationships with their employees is essential for business. Now, I will admit, technology innovation may have changed the “walking around” concept. But the idea is still the same.
Companies shouldn’t put managers in the position where they have to choose between reports and employees. Managers should be able to do both. And managers shouldn’t use reports as an excuse not to spend time with their employees. It’s time to rediscover the lost art of walking around.0