In my career leading teams has involved me in “out of comfort zone” challenges. These include working as an interim dropped into a new team, establishing a new presence in an established market, working in highly regulated industries and developing innovative solutions to customers’ needs.
In all these, the prevailing need has been to build a strong, connected team, to enable spontaneity, aid communication and to manage stakeholders. This is where MBWA has worked for me.
Managing By Wandering Around (MBWA) can be traced back to 1982 “In Search of Excellence – Peters & Waterman”. Just being present isn’t what makes this invaluable to me. It’s engaging, listening, being able to coach the team and debating the “art of the possible”.
With the proliferation of email in the 90’s and 00’s, as a project leader, I found the propensity for people to “fire and forget” frustrating. Once the email was sent, the task was marked as complete, no two-way street on confirmation, just a tick for completion. My role became focussed on making sure engagement and resolution to issues was complete, not just left in the ether.
Now we are deeply engaged in the “Working from home”, and “Hybrid working” debate. I agree there are huge benefits in saved commuting time, potentially improved work/life balance and possibly better impact on mental health.
But I feel we are moving to another challenge to MBWA, engagement and the loss of interaction that so often proves invaluable in resolving problems, adding value, forming teams, and connecting.
I believe that the ability to be yourself and engage in a relaxed way, listen to views, celebrate successes, however small, and learn from the conversations is essential. Don’t overdo it though and end up with everyone watching their back. This isn’t about checking up on people, it’s there to bring about a cohesive team.
What do you think will be the future of MBWA?
Can a technical solution (Zoom/Teams) be a substitute?
Does the office still have a place for meeting, greeting, and sharing?