Overview – Walkabouts
Walkabouts are often referred to as ‘Management by Walking About’. They provide inter-personal, individually targeted, face-to-face communication by a leader at an employee’s workstation to build understanding and rapport. Walkabouts are an effective communication tactic because they provide leaders with a coal-face view of the organisation and employees. This expands the leader’s knowledge-base enabling balanced decision-making founded on what is directly seen and experienced.
In the absence of walkabouts, a leader’s decisions are largely based on information that has been filtered through others’ perceptions and agendas. Effective walkabouts require a leader’s ongoing commitment and time to foster employee engagement and deliver organisational benefits.
This tactic is useful for:
✓ Finding out what’s really going on in the workplace.
✓ Discussing issues of concern directly with employees.
✓ Building rapport with employees.
✓ Cultivating commitment and trust.
✓ Raising leaders’ visibility.
Things to consider:
⇒ Arrive when employees will be at their workstations.
⇒ Watch your body language. Employees may interpret crossed arms, a grim expression and an aggressive stance as ‘bad news on the way’. Whereas an open demeanour and engaging manner show employees you enjoy meeting them and value what they have to say.
⇒ Keep your communications real and authentic.
⇒ Hold genuine conversations by taking the time to ask employees relevant questions.
⇒ Be approachable and a good listener. Listen actively to employees’ responses and concerns. Listen more than you speak because your goal is to learn as much as possible as quickly as possible.
⇒ Observe and take notes.
⇒ Follow-up on any verbal commitments made.
⇒ Visit remote locations to let those employees know they are valued.
Schedule a regular time in your communication calendar or business diary to ensure walkabouts become a fixed element of your leadership program. When interacting with employees, choose your messages, words and actions wisely. One employee may relay the details of your interaction with them to all their colleagues. In this way, leaders cast very long shadows.
Category: Face to Face