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MBWA - Management By Walking Around

Jun 30, 2008
Your employees are your most valuable asset. Not only is it your employees who create your finished product or service but it employees who are the face of your business for your business or organization. Yet many employers feel that employees are easily replaceable - the system led assembly line style replaceable worker style of management. One worker is the same as the other it is reasoned up on the top floor. Replace on number or unit with another it's as simple as that. "That replacement unit will be on the factory floor /order desk / car shortly"

Yet at the end of the day it is these dedicated workers - not upper management who produce the firm's services, products and profits. When employees leave for a new employer the reason is seldom deals with money - salary and benefits, but rather with feelings of not being appreciated, or their talents not recognized and being used to full potential. In the end it all comes down to treating employees with the appreciation and recognition that they rightly deserve.

What are some of the traits and practices that an effective manager can utilize to handle these events and cut them off ahead of time at the pass? The key is pro-action not bolting the door and forming committees after the horse is long out of the barn.

First get out in the real world. Enjoy getting out from behind the desk, or the top floor and practice "MWBA", that is management by walking around. There is nothing more instructive and insightful than actually seeing what transpires in the real world , customer's concerns , the interaction of your employees with your customers and the functioning of your business in the trenches at the "front lines'. You may actually be amazed at how different it all is compared to what is presented to "head office". As such you will have obtained a much better idea of your employee's problems and perceptions and as well have obtained a better vision of the skill sets and attributes of individual employees.

Next in line is the power of appreciation. For jobs well done or events performed it never hurts to send a personal note- as opposed to a form letter. A personal note - especially a handwritten note shows attention to detail and great appreciation.

In addition if positive customer comments arrive - either by phone or letter it's always a wise idea to pass the positive comments along to the relevant party.

Next in line is how you relate as a manager to your employees. Make it a specific point and practice to "practice random acts of kindness". Take time to thank people, you might reward staff by little spiffs like sports events tickets, restaurant vouchers and the like. Often suppliers will pass these along as gifts or trials to their accounts but somehow these spiffs only get to certain groups. Make the point to spread these around. After all they did not cost the firm anything and they are in appreciation for your business to said supplier or vendor wishing you to try out and evaluate their product or products.

Lastly people live to be part of something. They buy Pepsi cola rather than sugar water and thus pay a premium to be part of the "Pepsi Generation". ".It is your responsibility to develop what might be called a "company culture" or a "family environment". Most people and employees want to be involved and be a part of something greater than "just their job". Most major companies such as Disney and Starbucks do this. The employees feel themselves to be part of something greater than just their solitary job. It might be said that they are part of "the team" or alternatively "the family".

In the end this all takes effort on the part of management. However on the other side when you consider the cost of training - finding staff , interviewing , training costs , lost sales and profits from inexperienced staff as well as lost sales due to contacts lost with employee turnover - it all makes a great amount of sense to do everything you can to retain your employees. It may sound difficult; the concepts may be off base to your current management mindset. However in the end it all comes down to common sense and basic appreciation and recognition of your employees as human beings and valuable members of the enterprise. It never hurts to sincerely thank someone. It never hurts to ask.
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