How a relatively simple practice helped build one of the world’s most successful companies
Dec 2, 2013
How a relatively simple practice helped build one of the world’s most successful companies
Dec 2, 2013

A practice first coined at Hewlett Packard in the 1940’s and subsequently embraced by Steve Jobs, even in the current technological age, Managing By Wandering Around or MBWA has been proved to deliver far greater dividends than computer processing or watching the pennies.

It is all too easy to get embroiled in worrying if your company is doing well and forgetting about the people on the ground that make it happen and why those people chose to work for you.

How often do you say ‘hello’ to employees on a regular basis?  Do you let them know how important they are to the success of the company?  Do you know every employee by name?

You may be aware of the Hawthorne effect – the increase in productivity in the workplace when people feel that they are cared for.  This doesn’t mean spending hours, chatting aimlessly about their weekend, or their holiday plans, but simply remembering to take the time to ask “how are you?”  When employees are happy, loyal and engaged they miss less work, perform better, are more supportive of change and this results in profits being higher.

As managers and directors, we achieve success by leading a group of individuals to meet goals.  A recent study by the Institute of Leadership and Management revealed that 82% of managers said that their teams knew exactly what was expected of them.  However, employees were not so sure with only 58% knowing what they are supposed to do.

MBWA is a smart approach to making sure that these goals are being communicated and helps you lead a team by keeping your ear to the ground on developments and issues, as well as ideas.  Identify individuals as Human Beings, not Human Resources and identify those who are living the values and making a difference and let them know it isn’t going unnoticed.  At a time of intense competition and rapid change, it is vital to maintain close connections with your team to make change happen.

Most days in the office can be seen as simply routine by employees, but enjoyment has been sited as the single most effective motivator, with 59% rating it as one of the top 3 in the ILM study, it is more important than ever to ensure that you not only have a productive, driven workforce but also a happy one.

You may have been among the thousands that watched the recent BBC2 fly-on-the-wall documentary into Iceland.  The series trained the lens on everyday life at the HQ, with singing, dancing and all sorts of high-jinks.  Even though fun can be seen by some as an odd concept within the office environment, Iceland boast impressive staff retention figures and are regularly named among the best employers in the country so they must be doing something right.

Your people are your business – a happy work environment attracts good people and helps the people who work for you do the best for the company.  And remember, company culture doesn’t just happen, it is something that is earned.  Now, where’s that gorilla costume?

Written by Lucy Rawes, Operations Director


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