Management by walking about

By Ankita Agarwal on January 29, 2012

The importance of effective communication in corporate scenario has now been widely accepted all across the globe. The traditional autocratic management style is now being replaced by participative management. The organizational hierarchies are getting less visible and the need of the hour is to call for employees’ participation in every sphere of activity including decision-making. The managers today must keep themselves informed of what is happening around in the workplace. But the question arises whether formal systems reveal the true organizational status? Well there is a doubt!

Management experts have provided an answer to this question in the form of ‘Management by Walking About’ or as it is often called, ‘Management by Wandering Around’ (MBWA). While Griffin has established it as an informal communication style, some authors consider it a leadership style. But here it has been discussed as a management style. However all these lead to the accomplishment of same objective, i.e. organizational success. This style requires managers to roam around the workplace and interact with employees at all levels. The interaction takes informally and during this friendly conversation it is ensured that employees share their problems and grievances. In between, the managers can also solve any employees’ task-related problems, thereby mentoring and coaching the employees.

Brounstein has rightly said that management by wandering around is all about managers being visible and getting to know their staff members as people, not as employees. This helps to build trust throughout the organizational hierarchy and develops a friendly working environment. Managers not only get to know the actual feedback but also receive useful inputs from the employees. The importance of MBWA is very well expressed by Edwards Deming in the words, “If you wait for people to come to you, you’ll only get small problems. You must go and find them. The big problems are where people don’t realize they have one in the first place.”

However this management style is not that easy as it seems. This is often disliked by the employees because they find it management’s conspiracy to spy and interfere into their matters unnecessarily. Therefore it is suggested that these activities should be conducted frequently and not on the emergence of some issue. The success of ‘management by walking about’ lies in making correct decisions on when, where and how often to monitor.

References:

  • Griffin, R.W. 6th Edition. Fundamentals of Management. Course Mate.
  • Hindle, T. (2008). The Economist: Guide to Management Ideas and Gurus. Profile Books Limited.
  • Brounstein, M. (2000). Coaching & Mentoring for Dummies. Wiley Publishing, Inc.
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