Management by Walking


What Managers Learn from Walking Around

Management by walking depicts a management strategy characterized by managers directly observing frontline work. Management by walking is hailed as a strategy that enables the manager to be more visible, interact with the employees to share ideas, invite suggestions and build frequent, natural and trusting communication with the employees. Important skills such as listening, observation, recognition, and appraisal are essential for management by walking strategy.

When managers walk around and establish daily contacts with the employees, they can learn a wide range of the things. Through natural and trusting communication, the manager can spot big problems before they happen and work with the staff to prevent the problem. Through constant interactions, observations and communication with the employees the manager are able to see a problem in context, understand its causes, negative impacts on employees and aid in problem solution (AL-Qeed, 2015).  By seeing the problem in context, the manager can learn what is impeding employees’ morale and take the right measures to increase employees’ motivation. Additionally, the manager can learn and implore ideas about development prospects and take essential procedures to actualize the opportunities. 

How it Feels Knowing the Supervisor Interacts with employees

Knowing that the supervisor regularly spent time with employees, I would feel the supervisor is more approachable and ready to learn and act on employees concerns on a timely basis. The interactions would serve as a basis for creating a foundation for strong relationships that would be beneficial to the organization (Tucker, & Singer, 2015)

Effects of Executive Interacting with the Employees

When the executive increase interactions with the employees, I would feel more valued and increase my motivation and loyalty to the organization.  Employee executive interactions contribute to the psychological stability and social environment that supports positive behaviors (Omilion-Hodges, & Baker, 2017). Subsequently, employee’s motivation and productivity increases. 

Other Ways Managers Can Learn About Daily Operations

Other than going undercover, the manager can learn about what is going on in the organization by holding retreats. The retreats would give the employees an opportunity to have fun with the executives and discuss freely issues affecting them in the organization. Other than retreat, a company can organize sports day and other interactive events that would create an environment that employees would feel free to give feedback about their concerns. Employees admire an environment where they don’t feel questioned or interrogated to give useful feedback. 

Dangers of the Approach

While walking around is an essential management strategy, it poses management risk as time spent in walking around deny the manager ample time to conduct planning and coordination tasks in the organization Tucker, & Singer, 2015). The manager’s time is limited, and he requires sufficient time to establish an overall strategy for the organization and achieve organizational goals.

The employees are likely to feel that they are spied on and perceive the walking around as an intrusion into their environment. They are likely to feel intimidated and perceive that the manager lacks trust in their job.  The approach also may make employees feel as if they are being demeaned thus lowering productivity. 

How to Mitigate the Dangers

Communication is an essential element in promoting the effectiveness of the walking management strategy. The manager should communicate his intention to defuse tension among the employees (Omilion-Hodges, & Baker, 2017). The employees should be informed that negative feedback would not have any negative implication on them. 

In conclusion, management by walking plays an important role in enabling the manager to understand a problem in context. A manager is able to receive suggestions, information, and opinion that promote improvements in production. It is essential to strike a balance between management by walking and other management functions such as planning and coordination to ensure success. 

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  1. AL-Qeed, M. A. (2015). The effect of practices of management by wandering on learning organization” A Study on World Islamic Sciences and Education University.” Journal of Management Research, 7(4), 247-266.
  2. Omilion-Hodges, L. M., & Baker, C. R. (2017). Communicating leader-member relationship quality: The development of leader communication exchange scales to measure relationship building and maintenance through the exchange of communication-based goods. International Journal of Business Communication, 54(2), 115-145.
  3. Tucker, A. L., & Singer, S. J. (2015). The effectiveness of management‐by‐walking‐around: a randomized field study. Production and Operations Management, 24(2), 253-271.
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