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The Benefits of Management By Wandering Around (MBWA) in Retail Workplaces


“Every company has two organizational structures: The formal one is written on the charts; the other is the everyday relationship of the men and women in the organization.” – Harold S. Geneen.

Management by Wandering Around (MBWA) is a popular management technique in retail workplaces. It involves managers walking around the store, observing, conversing, and engaging with customers and employees. This method has been proven to be beneficial for both employer-employee relations and business operations.

MBWA helps managers stay in touch with their staff, identify problems quickly, and provide feedback that can help improve organizational performance and employee morale. What’s more, it allows staff to feel more connected to leadership and communicate better with them.

Management by walking around encourages open dialogue between the two parties, which helps create a positive work environment. This blog discusses how MBWA is an effective way for retail workplaces to foster a better relationship between managers and employees while improving job performance.

What is Management by Walking Around?

Management by wandering around (MBWA), also referred to as management by walking around, is a style of leadership wherein managers wander around the workplace randomly to engage employees, customers, and to gain first-hand knowledge of employee productivity.

MBWA was developed by David Packard in the 1940s and later popularized by Tom Peters, a management consultant and business leader. MBWA is a relatively simple concept but, effective approach to managerial success that emphasizes “wandering within a work environment in an unplanned, unscheduled and unstructured manner. Further, MBWA is particularly effective in medium-to-large retail outlets, as it allows open access to decision-makers by employees and shoppers. The overall impact is flatter organizations that are more receptive to frontline challenges. 

What is the flattening of an organization?

The flattening of organizations means fewer levels of management between employees and organizational leadership. The objective is to bridge the gap between upper management and frontline employees by increasing mutual exposure and collaboration.

What is the purpose of MBWA?

MBWA aims to unite managers and employees, break down barriers, improve communication, and give leaders a realistic picture of productivity, frontline issues and operational status. In addition, this management style facilitates better-informed decision-making, receptive leadership, and higher organizational morale.

Benefits of Management by Wandering Around

Five Benefits of Management by Wandering Around

Management By Walking Around builds trust, strengthens relationships, and motivates staff by suggesting that management takes an active interest in frontline duties. Further, MBWA encourages managers to encourage staff to combine and achieve individual and company goals concurrently. The following are some of the benefits that facilitate the success of this management style: 

Informed Decision-Making

Management by wandering around is a practical way for decision-makers to keep up with what’s happening within the organization in real time. Also, when leaders actively develop relationships with their people, this can pay off significantly with the information they gather and the trust they build. 

Improved Employer-Employee Relations

MBWA encourages company leaders to learn to communicate directly with employees and develop personalized relationships through natural, relaxed, and informal conversations. And MBWA motivates managers to expand their inter-organizational network and learn new leadership skills, such as active listening, that help to develop and maintain strong employee-employer relations. 

Improved Productivity

Management by walking around emphasizes the importance of interpersonal contact, genuine appreciation, and recognition of employee accomplishments. It is one of the most important ways to build synergy and enhance workplace performance. By visiting different departments and talking to the employees, the manager can identify any areas of inefficiency and develop strategies to improve them. This can increase efficiency and productivity throughout the organization. 

Faster problem solving

Face-to-face interactions help solve issues quickly rather than going through time-consuming procedures. For instance, when an employee experiences challenges with a piece of equipment while performing their duties, management is available and on-site to lend support. Managers who adopt this MBWA can quickly assess the extent of a problem, offer practical solutions and access to resources. 

Improved Organizational morale

When leaders engage with team members and employees, synergy is the natural result. Thus, MBWA has the effect of making people feel like a part of the company, generating engagement, and improving morale. In addition, listening to their experiences and perspectives demonstrates that you value and care about their opinions. This can help you reduce turnover and retain valuable employees. 

“You can’t forget that organizational success flows from the hearts and minds of the men and women you lead. Rather than treating your people as you’d like to be treated, treat them as they would like to be treated. Small gestures like opting for face-to-face meetings or sending personal notes can have an enormous impact on teams and their morale.” – Marillyn Hewson.

In conclusion, Management By Wandering Around (MBWA) is an invaluable tool for retail stores. It encourages managers to take a hands-on approach when interacting with customers and staff, leading to improved customer service, better operational procedures, and increased employee engagement. Additionally, MBWA allows managers to identify issues quickly and take corrective action before they become unmanageable problems. When used correctly, this management style can help retail stores increase their profitability by providing customers with exceptional service and giving employees the support they need to succeed.

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