Managing People In A Growth Company Can’t Be Done From Your Office.
Insights On How To Develop Your Management Style By Walking Around
Managing people in a startup or small company in the early days is easy. It’s just you and perhaps co-founders, maybe a few freelancers. But what happens when the company starts to grow rapidly and day-to-day management is needed? Do you create layers of management or keep the company lean? Do you manage your employees from an office via online technology? Do you focus all your efforts on sales and never really see or communicate with key employees regularly? And yet we know that communications between team members is critical.
We live in a world where communication is easier than ever, yet face-to-face conversations seem not to be the communication vehicle of choice with Millennials and Gen Z. Human interaction is becoming increasingly digitalized, with most of us sending an e-mail or a text then arranging a meeting. But one management method, is perhaps, the methodology of choice for rapidly growing companies who have a culture of believing that people come first. Management By Walking Around (MBWA) can be critical to growing your company well.
Management by walking around has been around for a while, but most new startups and managers in the past 20 years might not be familiar with this management philosophy. You’ve probably encountered plenty of management theories and you might have your own ideas about an effective management style. Or perhaps, you never really managed people before so employee management is new to you. A key part of being a good manager is being in touch with your employees. In order for management to work, you need to be aware of exactly what is going on around you and this is, essentially, what management by walking around is about.
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Although the concept of having management walk amongst employees and talk to them face-to-face, has been used by managers and organizations for decades, the term ‘Management by Walking Around’ was popularized in the 1980s. In 1982, management consultants Tom Peters and Robert H. Waterman proposed the concept in their book In Search of Excellence: Lessons from America’s Best Run Companies. In the book, Peters and Waterman examined the successful companies, realizing a common denominator between the most successful. According to them, the most successful companies had CEOs and managers who spent much of their time in among employees instead of being confined to their office. Peters and Waterman noticed these managers were more aware of the operations and in general, had a better ability to solve problems.
The idea gained further attention when William Hewlett and David Packard, the founders of Hewlett Packard mentioned the theory to be part of the “HP Way”. This up-close-and-personal style of management became a popular option for organizations and other big companies soon followed the teachings of Peter and Waterman. Soon after, Disney implemented management by walking, having its managers work alongside employees. Apple’s Steve Jobs was another big believer in the style, putting himself in situations where he dealt directly with his product designers, marketers and customers.
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Today, companies like Netflix and Pixar have structured their culture and values to encourage MBWA so that senior leaders and managers really know what is going on and can lead more effectively. Even the senior leaders of Costco try to spend more time in their retail warehouse locations than at their corporate offices in Seattle. There is no substitute for understand the operations of a business than seeing the operations of a business, especially if it involves customers. Zappos has every new employee, even directors and vice presidents, spend 30 days in their customer call center to understand the business.
There are three main components behind successfully implementing or crafting a MBWA strategy in your management style:
Learn to listen: You can’t just walk around and talk, but you have to listen to what employees and customers are telling you. As a leader or manager, you have to become good at reading the subtle signs people are communicating. Your employees might not feel comfortable being very honest with you, especially right at the start of implementing the new method. So be empathetic and show you care more about serving customers than the company pecking order.
Solidify company values and mission: By walking around and creating discussions with employees, it provides you the opportunity to strengthen the employees understanding of core values and mission of the company. You can gather insights and at the same time reinforce the overall mission.
Assist and get involved: If your employees require help, you must be willing to lead by example and provide support on the spot. The method has a sense of urgency to it and it isn’t about “looking into it”, but helping to get problems fixed quickly. It also sends a message that the company rewards problem solving and everyone owns the problem, not just the responsible employee but also the leaders and managers of the company.
(Bernhard Schroeder, Contributor. Small Business Strategy. I write about branding, trends, culture, creativity and disruptive businesses).
Por: Bernhard Schroeder
Fonte: Forbes, em 25 de Novembro de 2019