Management by walking around


Some of you will recognize this acronym from the great business thinker Tom Peters. It stands for Management By Walking Around. I think it is one of the most essential business ideas ever developed.

Put simply. It means getting out of your chair and spending time with your people. Set aside 20% or more of your schedule for unplanned visits. Get to know everyone. What’s their name? Do they have kids? Do they have a favorite sports team? How long have they been with the credit union? Connect with them on a personal level.

Also, ask them if there is anything you can do to help them with their job. Is there a silly rule that needs to be killed? Is there some resource they need to do their job better? Do they have a question that you can answer for them? Show them that you are approachable, accessible, and happy to assist.

I might also recommend you do the same thing with your members. When visiting a branch to check in with your folks, spend some time talking to members there doing business. What do they like about your credit union? What frustrates them? What can you do to make it easier to do business with you? It’s one of my favorite phrases, “Whoever owns the voice of the customer (member) owns the marketplace.”

Tom and I have been jumping up and down about this idea for 30+ years. Yet, it is mind-boggling how few executives do this. They will claim that they don’t have enough time. I’m going to be blunt. You are running your business poorly if you can’t free up time to do MBWA. Spending time with your folks is job number ONE. There is nothing more important. These are the people who do ALL the work. They’re the ones that keep the credit union running. They ARE the credit union to your members. The single most significant factor in highly engaged, satisfied, and loyal members – is engaged, satisfied, and loyal employees.

I have worked with senior executives that know hundreds of people in their organization. They call them by name, ask them about their kids (also by name), and swing by to congratulate them on their hiring anniversary. I know other senior executives that could not tell you the names of 20 people in the organization. They don’t even know if the people on their executive team have kids. It’s embarrassing. It’s offensive. It’s a clear signal that they don’t care. By the way, want to guess which organization is more successful?

Get out of your office. Visit at least one branch of the week. Yes, at least one branch per week! Try to learn as many people’s names as possible. Take notes. Start a file. Create a spreadsheet. Whatever it takes to help you remember important things about your employees. I’m not saying you have to be their best friend. I am saying that you need to show genuine concern and create a real connection. The most significant factor in retaining top talent is working for a leader they trust, respect, and admire. You don’t make that happen sitting on your butt in your office.

John Spence

John Spence

John Spence is widely regarded as one of the top executive coaches and business experts in the world. Over the past 15 years John has helped several credit unions to ... Web: Details