The first time we ever heard about MBWA was a reference by Tom Peters in his ground breaking business book, IN SEARCH OF EXCELLENCE.   Sam Walton of Wal-Mart fame was known to walk stores with a baseball cap on with the initials sewn into the cap. So what’s the big deal? MBWA means Managing by Wandering Around. Peters suggested that most managers only look for employees to be doing something wrong. And most employees are scared to death when they see the boss come down from the ivory tower to walk around. Unfortunately this attitude creates a management culture that can be a destructive issue that can kill a company large or small.

The concept suggests that a great manager will work to reverse the “fear factor” and build and nurture an environment where they are on a mission with a different purpose. Rather than instill an environment of fear upon the mere sighting of the manager, the successful entrepreneurial manager is on a mission to find employees doing the right things, good things. The new mission is to look for reasons to praise employees and team members in public. So now when a team member sees the boss coming they’re excited to see them.

So if you’re an entrepreneurial business owner or manager, it’s time to “practice” MBWA. Here are a few tips on building your “wandering around” skills.

  1. Appear relaxed as you make your rounds. Employees will reflect your feelings and actions.
  2. Remain open and responsive to questions and concerns.
  3. Observe and listen and let everyone see you do it.
  4. Make certain your visits are spontaneous and unplanned.
  5. Talk with employees about their passions — whether family, hobbies, vacations, or sports.
  6. Ask for suggestions to improve operations, products, service, sales, etc.
  7. Try to spend an equal amount of time in all areas of your organization.
  8. Catch your employees doing something right and recognize them publicly.
  9. Convey the image of a coach — not an inspector.
  10. Encourage your employees to show you how the real work of the company gets done.

Try MBWA sometime in your management and leadership position. The investment in time and money that you spend in finding great employees should be equaled in efforts in keeping them. It is always worth the effort. Team members/employees will seldom tolerate spending time in a fearful environment. That particular management tactic is archaic and has no relevance in its applicability and value.

So what do you say, let’s take a walk?

If you need some assistance in management and team skills, let us know. This is what we do at Grow Southwest. We can help and we’re open for business. Give us a call or e-mail today. And as always,


Coach Dan


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