MBWA – Management By Walking Around

Most leaders would agree that staying in touch with their volunteer base is important. This leader-volunteer connection typically takes on the structured forms of town hall meetings, video broadcasts and planning sessions. But there are informal ways to stay in touch as well, often called “Management By Walking Around” (MBWA), a phrase coined in the 1980’s in the book In Search of Excellence. MBWA, the theory goes, helps senior leadership break down barriers that can often stall effective communication across an organization.

A time-stressed Leader may be tempted to skip the Walking Around part and only focus on the Management part of the MBWA equation, but that would be a mistake. Wise organizational leaders make use of both formal and informal communications channels.

Here could be a few ideas to take advantage of your MBWA with your team.

1. Revisit the structured ways that you interact with volunteers and or employees. Has attendance dipped, or conversation been stale at the last few meetings? Maybe it’s time to change things up a bit.

2. Wander virtually. Learn to use, and become comfortable with, social media. It’s the new water cooler. See Ten things you must know before using twitter or click over to Must knows about twittering . Really depending how long this post of mine has been out when you go to look for info on twitter, just Google it because you would be surprised how many are out there sharing how to use twitter.

3. Ask a trusted advisor how you can be more approachable. Oftentimes, executives are unaware of how imposing they are.

What would some of your ways not mentioned here be?

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  • Excellent post! I don’t think anything will ever replace being visible and accessible in person. People are always surprised by it and appreciate it! And you learn things you’d never learn any other way. Even running a website now, I surf it as a customer would and find things daily that I’d never discover that need changing/correcting/improving that I’d never find buried in management tasks.

    Great post!

  • A big part of MBWA for me is also making sure I am catching my leaders doing it right. I love to praise them in front of their peers and create for them a big high five type experience. I completely agree, their is no substitute for MBWA and this is one of those duties/privileges that every leader must do and can not delegate it out. This must make our 20% because it will be a major part of the 80% of results we get.

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