I love to watch Undercover Boss. If you have not watched it, the premise of this show is about CEOs who feel they have lost touch with the rest of their companies, so they disguise themselves and go undercover. While it makes for good TV, every leader can have a similar effect on his teams (without having to wear a disguise) by regularly practicing MBWA.
Over 40 years ago, Tom Peters introduced us to the key concept of MBWA (Management By Wandering Around). MBWA is simply leaders getting away from their desks and starting to talk to individual employees.
Here are a few tips to assist you in that same pursuit as you Manage By Wandering Around.
- Make it a relaxed experience when you are visiting.
- Don’t go with an agenda other than to learn.
- Ask questions and be open and responsive to questions and concerns.
- If you don’t know an answer to a question that you are asked, admit it and promise to follow-up.
- Follow up. If you fail to follow-up you lose trust.
- Listen and observe.
- Talk with employees about not only their jobs, but their lives, passions and aspirations.
- Balance you time in all areas of your organization.
- Catch your employees doing something right and recognize them publicly.
- Do not be an inspector. If you see something that you feel should be changed, make a note and take care of it later.
- Never criticize publicly.
- Encourage your employees to show you how the real work of the company is done.
- If you can, jump in and help them.
- Try to remember what you talked to them about next time.
- Repeat regularly.
“Leaders must touch a heart before they ask for a hand.”
MBWA works best when you are genuinely interested in employees and in their success. If you want engaged, passionate people, go where they are and passionately engage them.
Contact me to find out more about how I can work with you and your team to develop a culture of excellent service.