Dollars and Sense: Hands-on management style proves best

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 8, 2006

In days gone by, the term &8220;managing by walking around&8221; was the standard in many organizations.

This term simply implies that an excellent way for management to stay in touch with employees is to get out of their offices and out on the factory floor or in the operations center or wherever employees are working.

This approach gives managers the best opportunity to engage employees in informal conversations and to learn firsthand about what is happening in the plant or department. It also helps management stay visible and approachable.

In many organizations, management by walking around has unfortunately become obsolete. Technology has made it easy to whip out a quick e-mail message or issue a mass voicemail.

Technology has provided an artificial crutch that has made management at many organizations less accessible and often disconnected with their workers.

In reality, no form of communication can take the place of good old fashion face-to-face communication. My own experiences as a manager and executive confirm that the majority of employees strongly prefer to get information directly from their immediate supervisor and not from the latest broadcast e-mail.

For managers that need to get reacquainted with the &8220;managing by walking around&8221; process, here are a few tips.

u Use your weekly calendar to plan some specific walking around time. If you plan it, it will happen.

u Be receptive to all employee ideas and comments. Make sure you engage in two-way communication. Spend most of your time listening and less of it talking.

u Keep your commitments. If a question from an employee requires you to follow-up with a response at a later time, follow-up quickly.

u Thank each employee that takes the time to speak with you.

u Effective leaders learn by asking great questions. Prepare for a &8220;walk about&8221; by thinking about questions that you want to ask that relate to current happening in the business.

In today&8217;s mile-a-minute business world, effectively communicating with employees is critical.

&8220;Managing by walking around&8221; is a very effective management practice that every leader should utilize and master