How To Get The Best ROI On Your MBWA

As a leader, how do you think your team feels when they see you walk in? Do they think, "Great! I'm so glad she's here. I want to share an idea." Or do they groan, "Great. I wonder what he wants now." If you're a fan of management by walking around—MBWA—you know how important it can be. Done well, MBWA can build trust, reinforce priorities and give you insight into what's in the hearts and minds of your people. Unfortunately, though, MBWA can have the opposite effect and sabotage a leader's influence and impact.

Leadership experts Karin Hurt and David Dye say there are some steps you can take to ensure the best ROI on your MBWA. We discuss their thoughts in this issue of Promotional Consultant Today.

Be clear about your most important message. Before you arrive for your walking tour, know the main purpose of your visit. If you want to provide clarity, strive to talk to as many employees as possible about your biggest goal and why it's important. Hurt and Dye say strategic storytelling works wonderfully for a visit like this. Share your personal or customer stories connecting what you're asking people to do and the "why" for that action. Celebrate the employees who have made a difference. If you want to uncover issues and best practices on your MBWA, head out on a curiosity tour where you listen and learn rather than speak.

Talk behaviors, not numbers. Leaders spend lots of time reviewing numbers and trends. You might be tempted to give your team a numerical challenge, such as "Improve by 10 percent by the time I return." Some will find this motivating, but you'll achieve a better result when you focus on one or two behaviors that will get them there. Hurt and Dye recommend that leaders offer ways to measure the behaviors and challenge the team to focus on that.

Celebrate what's working. Don't overlook the importance of a human connection. Aim to build a genuine and transparent relationship with your team. You can't develop trust or reliability if you dive right into the work. Make time during every MBWA to truly connect and notice what's good. If you're new to your role as a manager, Hurt and Dye suggest focusing exclusively on recognition the first few weeks. Your people will feel the love and feel encouraged to keep up the good work.

Ask great questions. If you want to really know what's going on, ask your employees about the most difficult part of their day or a metric that's particularly hard to move.

Encourage the sharing of practices. If you're out and about, chances are you see people in other offices or locations implementing some great best practices. Leverage these observations for some cross-pollination. You could say something like, "You know who's doing this well? Laura in Poughkeepsie. You should give her a call. Tell her I sent you." This way, you've just got yourself a two-for-one: Laura gets recognized and you've spread her best practices contribution, which makes everyone more productive.

If you want people to be excited when you walk in the door, use the advice above to maximize the power of your MBWA. You can make a huge difference with small interactions.

Source: Karin Hurt and David Dye are leadership experts, keynote speakers and the award-winning authors of Winning Well: A Manager's Guide to Getting Results Without Losing Your Soul. They are the founders of Let's Grow Leaders, an international leadership consulting firm.

filed under May 2019
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