Tag Archives: communication

MBWA–For Managing in Troubled Times

I have always been a strong proponent of “Managing By Walking Around” (MBWA). I have studied the concept, and written about it, but, more importantly, I have practiced it for several decades. I have experienced the benefits…and there is no downside. For me, informally talking with my employees frequently, whether individually or in small groups, is the single best way I found to build cohesive teams that can fulfill a common purpose.

Never has this been more important than it is today. Employees are constantly bombarded by the negativity of mainstream media sources (we all know bad news sells best), and consequently, rumors abound. That is why it is up to each small business owner to spend as much time as possible communicating with the people who make their business run. Sadly, big business has lost site of the power of this simple act. HP was probably the last big corporation to formally practice MBWA, and that was many years ago.

Of course, just walking or wandering around, by itself, won’t do it, you also have to talk to people—everyone—and make sure your message is consistent, or you will quickly be disregarded. Keep your employees informed about the realities of your business, both the good and the bad. Nothing dispels rumors and fear like the unvarnished truth. Nothing builds trust and respect like factual, frequent information—the sharing of everything that is going on.

Just as important, you have to listen to your employees. All employees talk amongst themselves about the business, and usually they know things about your business that you do not…so, ask them what they think. Ask them what the business can do better. Ask them what you can do to help them do their jobs better. Be sure to really listen to what they have to say, and then thank them. Of course, you do regularly thank them for their contributions anyway—don’t you?

The same holds true for people outside your organization…your customers, suppliers, creditors, bankers, investors, board members, etc. Pick up the phone and call them from time to time. Where appropriate, ask how you can help them. Everyone connected with your business needs to hear from you—everyone is anxious about what is happening, and when they are fully informed and connected they also can help you, and your business, in ways you may never have thought of.

Frequent and consistent communication not only makes for an informed organization, but it provides the basis for meaningful communication between everyone. This is what fosters innovation.

Doesn’t all this MBWA stuff take a lot of time? Well, it does take a dedication of time consistently spent out in your workplace, but not as much as you might think. If you make it part of your daily routine, and your overall management style, MBWA will become second nature and a part of your business culture—and it definitely beats the hell out of “meetings.”

Do you MBWA? If not, give it a sincere try—spend more time with the people who make your business successful. You can make everyone in your organization feel they are a real part of your business. This is what can give you a better chance of winning during the recession…and beyond.

Do You Have “Trigger Thumb”?

With all of the mini-keypad devices in our arsenal of technical gadgets, many users are experiencing a new form of tendonitis and joint disease currently referred to as “trigger thumb.” Loggers have experienced a similar problem for decades, as they aggravate their forefinger by operating the “trigger” on a chainsaw. Constant use of their forefinger results in a painful condition long known as “trigger finger.” I assume this is where the term “trigger thumb” came from.

Regardless of the origin of the term, “trigger thumb” is no laughing matter. It can develop into a very painful condition. More and more doctors are seeing patients with this condition. If the problem is not addressed early enough, it can develop into a degenerative condition with possible long-term disability.

So, how can we avoid “trigger thumb” and still get the benefits from our electronic gadgets? Here are some suggestions that a few of us might benefit from:

  • Determine how important each use is. Do you really need to have that text conversation with a friend while shopping in a store—or driving?
  • If you have to send a message, make it as short as possible. Don’t participate in long texting conversations.
  • When you start to feel any pain or discomfort, stop using your device and rest as long as possible.
  • If you already have a joint condition, like arthritis, don’t use your keypad any more than absolutely necessary.
  • When all else fails, see your doctor. They may prescribe anything from rest to surgery, but, hopefully, the problem can be corrected.
  • This last suggestion is the best of all—take a holiday! Put your devices in a drawer for a few days and do something out of the ordinary…like reading a book, going for long walks, or having face-to-face-conversations, and the like. This is not only good for your thumbs, but for your mind and your whole body as well.

I can’t imagine anyone giving up their electronic gadgets…we’ve come to rely on them too much…so we’ll just have to face the consequences. Maybe voice-recognition Blackberrys are just around the corner—of course that probably wouldn’t work while you’re texting during your boss’s staff meeting.