Manage By Walking Around
If you want a pulse on what is happening with your staff, walk around, talk to them and connect with each one. You don’t need to speak to every person when you take a break and stroll around, yet it’s good to check in regularly with each person. To manage employees effectively, it’s important to build a relationship with them.
What can you accomplish by walking around?
- You are sending a message to your employees that you are interested in them. In managing people, your interest in their wellbeing will increase their motivation immensely.
- You can observe how your employees interact with clients and with each other.
- Ask questions for better clarity around the work that each person is performing. This is not the time to correct performance or behavior.
- A perfect time to share new direction for the department or the company. Listen to their questions or maybe non-questions.
- Share good news about sales, new product, industry news…share your excitement.
- Share a box of cookies while you walk around. Food is a great icebreaker. You can also inject some fun into the interaction.
- If you see them doing something right…for example, if you hear they did a great job interacting with a customer, let them know. If you see someone helping another person with a work problem, comment on it and thank him or her for being a help. In other words, this is a great time to let your employees know you appreciate them.
- An opportunity to connect spontaneously with your team members….you never know they may be working on something that is frustrating or exciting and are ready to engage you with this information.
- If they are reluctant to interact with you, that is also powerful information. If an employee is apprehensive they will not perform as well because they are giving part of their focus over to fear.
What not to do when walking around
- If you see they are doing something wrong, don’t make a comment in public, but rather have their manager or you call them in.
- If they have a supervisor who is under you, don’t circumvent the supervisor. If the employee has a problem, thanked them and mention they should follow up with the supervisor. You can always speak with the supervisor later. Never over ride your direct report when visiting with his/her staff.
- Email is not walking around and connecting with your employees. Face-to-face interaction is important to building trust with employees.
What about a virtual employee?
If you are working in a virtual environment, how do you walk around there? Have a virtual walk around, call people and set a timer for a 5-10 minute “just checking in” chat. Let them know you are interested and they are not in their own little silo, but rather an important part of the team. Make it important to meet face-to-face each quarter with virtual employees.
How comfortable are you?
When you first start walking around, it’s new so many of us feel uncomfortable with the process. That is the nature of doing something new – not sure how to do it. Your employees will probably react, wondering if you are looking for something wrong. Just share with them that you need to get out of the office more often in order to understand how the business is working and what you can do to help each member of your team. Depending on your environment, they may or may not trust your intention right away. That’s ok because as you practice this new behavior they will grow to depend on your presence.
If you are the type to micromanage, this can be a challenge for you. You may be tempted to make corrections and be critical of an employee’s performance. It’s your job to set direction and provide a strong working environment for your employees. It’s their job to handle the details and execute. You can take note and make any corrections at another time….not at the walk around time.
Walking around is finding the pulse of your team, what works and doesn’t work, to be present for your employees and your business. Stay positive and don’t expect results right away. Change takes time but is definitely worth the 15 – 30 minutes of your time to consistently walk around and talk with the employees.
Make a decision to spend a dedicated amount of time on the floor walking around, talking, asking questions, listening, listening, and listening. Start with 15 minutes and work you way up to 30 minutes at a time. You want you employees to know that this is important to you not just something nice to do.
Create a vision of what you want to accomplish is your walk around. Is it to watch them interact with their work and with each other? Do you want to see where there are problems in the processing of the work? What do you want to learn about your employees and the work environment?
In order to increase the effectiveness of your business, you do need to understand where your employees are at…set an intention to walk around regularly. Start small with once a week and pick a day…keep walking and you will learn a lot about what is happening in your business.
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