Management By Wandering Around (MBWA), that HP innovation later popularised by Tom Peters, is under a new level of scrutiny today with our Working From Home environment.
There are, of course, the detractors who believe it has always been too time-consuming, interrupts people at work, and can even constitute spying by management.
However, done properly it really is a great way for the leadership to keep in touch with their teams, understand what’s going on and generally promote an open, interactive culture – something so important to business success.
And this is the key thing to remember – regardless of how we work, or where, we need to keep this openness going, and we need to understand the challenges at the proverbial coal-face.
In today’s virtual work-world, we need to make time for one-on-one (video) sessions with team members and customers, have virtual sessions with different departmental groups and be our own ‘mystery shoppers’ to experience first-hand what it’s like to deal with the business.
It’s too easy to fill the calendar with scheduled weekly meetings, looking at endless dashboards and spreadsheets.
Keep these to a minimum and have blocks in which anyone can take a short (10-minute?) slot – a virtual ‘open-door’ approach. Encourage virtual water-cooler sessions over video, too, where you are available to field any/all questions, leading the discussion by asking about challenges. But, don’t forget to also block time for your own planning, etc., too – your virtual ‘closed door.’
So, although MBWA might seem difficult with everyone so spread out, recognise how much travel time you’re saving nowadays, so you have even more time to interact with your business and really keep on top of things by listening to your team, your customers and your suppliers.