Tom Peters, alumnus of the management consulting firm of McKinsey & Company and one of today's best known and highest paid management gurus, first came to prominence in 1982 as he "knocked our socks off" with his eye-opening best-seller In Search of Excellence. This thought-provoking classic provided us with many valuable lessons from America's Best-Run Companies. Today, 20 years and ten best sellers later, Peters is still on the cutting edge of the on-going business revolution that never seems to end.
In his first book, Peters introduced us to the key concept of MBWA (Management By Wandering Around). After a brief definition of this powerful strategy, he shared a number of MBWA examples from such notable organizations as Hewlett-Packard, GE, PepsiCo, LucasFilm, Corning Glass, 3M, Disney and Wal-Mart. This unique approach obviously worked well for these and other companies in the early 80's. However, has it stood the test of time?
Tom Peters believes it has… as does a great number of leaders and organizations who continue the pursuit of excellence in today's competitive marketplace.
MBWA does not mean leaving your responsibilities behind as you stroll through the nearest shopping mall. Even wandering through your organization can do more harm than good if it isn't executed properly.
Here are a few tips to assist you in that same pursuit as you Manage By Wandering Around.
- Appear relaxed as you make your rounds. Employees will reflect your feelings and actions.
- Remain open and responsive to questions and concerns.
- Observe and listen and let everyone see you do it.
- Make certain your visits are spontaneous and unplanned.
- Talk with employees about their passions -- whether family, hobbies, vacations, or sports.
- Ask for suggestions to improve operations, products, service, sales, etc.
- Try to spend an equal amount of time in all areas of your organization.
- Catch your employees doing something right and recognize them publicly.
- Convey the image of a coach -- not an inspector.
- Encourage your employees to show you how the real work of the company gets done.
MBWA works best when you are genuinely interested in employees and in their work and when they see you as there to listen. It sometimes requires follow-up. When you can't answer an employee's questions on the spot, get back to them with an answer within 48 hours.
Harry K. Jones is a professional speaker and consultant for AchieveMax®, Inc., a firm specializing in custom-designed keynote presentations, seminars, and consulting services. Harry has made presentations ranging from leadership to employee retention and time management to stress management for a number of industries, including education, financial, government, healthcare, hospitality, and manufacturing. He can be reached at 800-886-2MAX or by visiting http://www.AchieveMax.com.
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