South-Western - Management  
Get Out of Your Office
Topic Communication
Key Words Management by walking around, communication channels
News Story

Most managers are surprised to receive the news from 360-degree feedback or employee surveys that their employees consider them to be out of touch. Managers need to realize that they are the most significant communication channel that their employees have access to. When done right, communication between a manger and his or her associates can create a connection between the associate and the company. When not done correctly, it can also create a great divide. Employees prefer to get communication from their direct manger or supervisor over any other source. The most effective way to share communication is through an informal “walk-around.” One aerospace company had fared so poorly in an employee engagement survey that they asked employees what could be done to improve. The walk-around technique was cited as the most powerful way for management to reach out and bridge the trust problem with employees. A focus group formed to address the problems at the company recommended a weekly, informal walk-around for all managers at the director level and higher. Employees wanted their managers to come to their work places, not when something was wrong, as was currently the case, but so that they could get to know each other and spend some time listening to each other and sharing ideas. Walking around and talking sounds like it should be an easy technique, but it really isn’t. Many managers don’t know where to begin. The following action plan can offer some tips to get started:

  1. Get out of the office
  2. Leave behind the cell phone
  3. Start slow
  4. Ask questions
  5. Drive involvement
  6. Listen
  7. Make eye contact
  8. Make it two-way communication
  9. Be honest
  10. Process information
  11. Show appreciation
  12. Never quit
Supervisors need to build trusting relationships with employees. The best type of supervisor-employee relationships are partnerships, in which feedback is given and received without fear. By taking the time to get to know people, managers will gather information that can help them to make better decisions, gain a better appreciation of what folks want to hear about, and learn new things. Getting to know people at work will also help to gain their trust and respect, which is invaluable.


Do some research in your textbook or online on the “management by walking around” technique. What are the goals of this management technique?


Walking around and talking to employees seems like the easiest technique ever invented for increasing employees satisfaction and trust. If this is true, why do you think the author of the article feels that many managers need advice in how to accomplish this?


The method explained in this article is not only designed to help with communications, it supposedly builds trust as well. Why?

Source “Get Out of Your Office,” HR Magazine, July, 2006, pp.99-101.
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