If you know what MBWA is, you got it. It stands for Management By Walking Around. Particularly true for service industry, the approach would be invaluable for managers in any sector involving team work. The idea proposes that managers can bond teams better and find problems and solutions by wandering around in the workplace, interacting with employees, finding out problems and talking about its solution. Such informal visits may happen without any pre-notified arrangement, in a friendly and cooperative manner. It is about “random sampling” by managers of what is going on in the organization.
The idea was proposed and practiced by the founders of Hewlette-Packerd. Later, the practice was adopted by Steve Jobs, where he applied this approach not only to employees, but also to customers whose questions or comments were personally answered by him.
Notwithstanding the fact that it has been a popular practice in the 80’s, the importance of this practice cannot be overstated in a technology driven work environment today. In a tech environment where e-memos and mobile messages are dominating the internal communication, the face of an employee is missing during this virtual communication. The importance of person to person interaction in a non-wired method still carries significant emotional value for employees. Who does want to open up his/her mind in emails and talk about issues that bug the organization? Who does want to complain about under-funded maintenance department that barely takes care of the repeatedly broken photocopier in the office? Once managers walk in the scene, many issues may become easier to notice and solve, which may ultimately improve the work environment and service quality.
If you are in a managerial position, start experimenting with the approach. Most likely, Steve Jobs was not wrong.