I had a boss once who was told by his boss to get out from behind his desk and walk around. His boss believed strongly in managing by walking around. My boss asked me what I thought. Should he give it a try?
I said, “Sir, if you do that, start just walking around, you are going to scare people. They’re going to wonder what they are doing wrong. They’ll think, ‘Why is he here?’ No, sir, you’d just cause more problems and you don’t need more problems.
He smiled, almost a smile of relief, and said, “Thank you.”
The good leaders want honesty. My boss was a task-oriented manager to the “nth degree.” He drove his organization but people respected him. He had risen to a high leadership position probably because of his analytical and decision-making acumen, but he did not have strong people skills.
The utility of MBWA depends on several factors, such as:
- The likeability or people skills of the leader, especially the ability to actively listen.
- The level of trust in the organization’s culture.
- The nature of the enterprise.
- The effectiveness of the workplace being visited.
Tucker, A. L., & Singer, S. J. (2014). The effectiveness of management-by-walking-around: A randomized field study. Production and Operations Management, 24 (2), 253-271.
Image by geralt obtained from https://pixabay.com/illustrations/man-businessmen-woman-economy-162951/
© John Ballard, PhD, 2021. All rights reserved.
Decoding the Workplace “Is this a must-have for managers and would-be managers? Yes.” Academy of Management Learning & Education, June, 2018. Available as ebook, hardback, paperback, audiobook, and audio CD. The best-selling audiobook and CD are narrated by Timothy Andrés Pabon.