It is a technique applied by managers and leaders of organizations with the aim of taking “the pulse” to their employees. Basically, it is about directing taking into account information (problems, ideas, etc. of the staff) first hand and collected in an informal way.

It is difficult to determine the origin of the concept although Mark McCormack and Tom Peters helped its dissemination. The work done by the executives in the 1970s of Hewlett-Packard.

The theory is tremendously simple. In order not to isolate and “dilute” the contact with our staff and their daily routines, the leaders of the organizations must leave their offices and make trips through the organization: factory, store, plants, offices, coffee rooms, etc. ., listening to your employees and observing in the front line everything that happens *. It should be borne in mind that the ultimate goal is that managers participate in solving the real problems of the organization (communication must go both ways, this is one of the advantages of the MBWA).

Observation*. In many cases the MBWA technique is accompanied by an open-door management policy in the organization through which accessing the offices of the different leaders and managers of the organization is quite easy.

Although this technique has much common sense even today, in the second decade of the 21st century, you can see executives encastillados in their offices that filter their information through their secretarial staff and manage their worlds through memoranda or edicts and whose relationship with the organization, it is based on reports and / or meetings that are kept only with the following ones in the organizational hierarchy.

Tom Peters * called MBWA “the technology of the obvious” in his book “The passion for excellence” and believes that wandering leaders should: listen to what workers say, take advantage of their walks to convey the values ​​of the company and they must be prepared to support their staff in the field.

Note*. Peters and Waterman gathered that excellent companies believed in the MBWA as a management line and Drucker determined the need to integrate workers in the generation of initiatives in “The Great Power of Small Ideas”.

The concept or the practical idea of ​​MBWA is the active listening on the part of the Management under a series of informal and unforeseen meetings, delimiting a series of points that must be taken into account to guarantee their effectiveness: the entire organization must be reviewed (throughout of the different “walks”), it is advisable to make these “walks” as many times as possible, logically it must be done by oneself (it is not worth delegating), it is very important not to question the chain of command of the organization (informal meetings do not they should become a criticism to managers or supervisors or a threat to their work) and of course one should be prepared to ask and observe as well as receive surprising opinions or with which, perhaps, one does not agree *.

*Observation. This “work” technique is not only applicable to managers. Those of us who work in consultancy often commit the same sin by doing our work only in an “administrative” way without observing and feeling the way the work is done by the staff. It is not the first time that we help generate documents and protocols without taking into account the true methodology of action of the different areas and the true development of the processes of the organization.

The following premises should be considered in the realization of the MBWA:

– Leaders should identify and focus on a goal for each trip (check the progress of a new process, check the resolution of a problem, perceive the mood of the staff, etc.).

– The goal of the manager is to listen and to gather information. The workers should be asked about their views and opinions (losing a few minutes talking about sports, the fashion series or some current news – even time – can help to relax the environment).

– Care must be taken in the solutions provided because the promises of a leader will be sacred to his staff: you should never compromise solutions that later can not be put into practice because we would be undermining our credibility.

– A recommendation at the conclusion of the trip is to write down or record what has been ascertained, delimiting three categories: priority matters (they require rapid action), information of medium relevance (which should be considered in future actions) and information of low relevance but unknown to date.

– The data collected should be used for the continuous improvement of the processes and practices of the company as well as a point of support in strategic decisions that they are defined (it is a very important point to define strategies based on the own resources and capacities) .

MBWA or Directing by walking IIL correct execution of the Management by Walking About raises the confidence of the workers as well as their understanding of the work they do, for another side improves and deepens the knowledge of the managers of your organization, structure, processes and products and / or services

The MBWA may seem a very simple technique but nothing further from reality, the “routes” must be planned and their objectives must be clear. In addition, its realization demands a series of skills such as active listening, observation and recognition of details. The search for information in an informal way and the appreciation of comments with which we disagree (and in many cases totally valid) there is an important “left hand”.

The MBWA gives leaders a good opportunity to involve the employees of the mission, vision and objectives of the organization, it is also a good tool to build trust. It also improves the “connection” with the employees by observing their resources and the real sequence of their work and taking advantage to value

Management by Walking About (MBWA)

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