Posted at 11.21.2018
Management By Wandering Around (MBWA) is an effective technique employed by Hewlett Packard (HP) since 1973 and was popularised by Tom Peters and Robert Waterman in the early 1980's. Generally, MBWA is a kind of soft skill approach where managers are encouraged to leave his safe place, in this case any office, and spend large amount of time to understand and keep direct touch with the activities of jobs through various form of inputs from associates.
In project founded environment, MBWA functions as an complimentary way of managing job team as it requires numerous PMOBOK tools and techniques such as Observation and Dialog, Task Performance Appraisal, Discord Management, Interpersonal Skills, Reputation and Rewards. It offers project manager a holistic methodology in managing task teams through recurrent communication with associates.
The practice of MBWA desires professionals to be bodily noticeable and accessible to team members, so that it eliminates the belief of isolation, rigid and faraway communication. Communication is the key to success of MBWA strategy in managing tasks. Professionals are to have regular conversation with project associates, employees and even stakeholders in order to keep abreast of their work, interest, objectives and problems. The amount of interaction should be informal and unstructured reaching whereby professionals and associates can freely discuss any issues related to their work or even personal lives. In such situation, associates are more likely to discuss problems that will never be raised throughout a formal environment.
There are numerous methods and ways to apply MBWA, especially in job based environment. Firstly, MBWA technique must be prompted and not required upon managers. Managers must show genuine work in promoting such management style to the associates. Be sincere when listening and show earnest involvement in their work and their personal life are the core tactics of MBWA. After the familiarity and trust of both managers and associates are formed, managers can certainly obtain firsthand knowledge of the activities within the project team. Noel W. Hinners (2009) stressed that "the success of MBWA is based wholly on trust, without that you are in reality a spy".
According to Harry K. Jones (Personal Development, 2009), one of the ten approach of MBWA is to remain open and responsive to questions and concerns. In this case, managers must prepare yourself to get both positive and negative comments on various issues related to project jobs and response with constructive suggestion. If immediate response is extremely hard, managers should follow up and give back with a remedy within reasonable amount of time.
MBWA helps bring about spontaneous and unplanned visits. These goes to should be relaxing and casual in character so that team members reciprocate with similar manner. When getting close an associate of the job team, the director is prompted to be open-minded and to have a conversation which hits up a balance between work and employee's personal life. Take time to understand both employees' current work and show curiosity about what's happening in their personal life. On most occasions, output of employees in company has too much to do with their personal life and the problems that they are facing at work.
MBWA technique is simply an alternative solution form of handling project teams through direct communication with job team members. Managers are encouraged to use this approach as a product to existing PMBOK tools and techniques. The followings will illustrate how to place MBWA technique into motion.
i. Phoning every project team member
MBWA is merely effective if project manager establishes strong communication and trust with job associates. Once this is set up, project manager will have first-hand knowledge on potential problems, obstacles, internal & exterior complaints which are not raised during formal meetings.
ii. Perform MBWA normally as possible
MBWA should be considered a continuous form of task team management practice. Once this technique is accustomed among task team members, it'll be a valuable platform for both associates and project administrator to share and discuss various issues via a casual manner.
iii. Don't circumvent subordinate managers
MBWA approach does not mean that project manager is overtaking Functional Professionals' responsibilities. MBWA is also not a platform for employees to complain over their immediate superiors. Issues increased by associates should be first tackled by immediate superiors while Project Manager could keep a bird's eyesight view on the problem.
iv. Watch, Hear and Response
MBWA strategy requires Project Supervisor to own full attention on the actions within the job department. Administrator is to analyse team users' effect through some casual question and answer program. Hear and decipher team customers' views, advice and complaints before giving response.
v. Share Project Goals and Goals
MBWA technique is an excellent program to re-instil task targets and goals among job team members. It is important that all level of project team members fully understand and synchronise with Job Manager's concentrate on.
vi. Acknowledgement of Team Member's Contribution
When making rounds, it is always recommended that manager acknowledges team members who do things the right way and give satisfactory compliments to their contribution. This method will make associates feel that there is a level of importance with their work.
Managers will keep track of each encounter when conducting MBWA technique with a simple register tabulation as shown below. The main element input here is to take note of issues lifted by employees. Other information such as personal interest or love and personalities can be a tremendous value to evaluate and understand team members' working styles and degree of productivity.
Advantages or Management by Wandering Around (MBWA)
The good thing about MBWA approach is noticeable. Through repeated communication via MBWA, managers can mitigate employees' problems, dismiss rumours, predict potential problem and offer first hand way to problems in a far more effective manner (Larson and Gray, 2011, pg. 349). It helps to solve problem quicker and most importantly avoid stagnant job therefore of lengthy methods when escalating issues. Managers who have established strong and creditable romantic relationship using their subordinates are more likely to resolve major issue as a team while avoiding unnecessary tension and finger pointing. It generates synergy within employees and tranquility working environment. Thus, in exchange, employees are usually more willing to response to help and participate in give-and-take discussion.
MBWA is a great tool to discover talented individuals within a task team or in an organisation. When professionals are making rounds and striking up conversation, they'll discover people with hidden characteristics such as command and negotiation skills. To maximise business or task output, managers can use this system to job match, improving employees' morale at the same time.