One problem faced by all those moving into a more senior management position is the potential isolation and so not really understanding what is happening at the sharp end of the business. It is all too easy to become isolated from the problems and issues that, if tackled, would help the company thrive.
A recent television programme tackled this problem by sending Executives undercover to work alongside their employees. Whilst this made excellent television, we do not recommend that you go undercover to achieve the same results. Instead we suggest you practice Management On The Move as this is an excellent method of reducing management isolation to a bare minimum.
Management on the Move means that you keep on going to see people, even if you are received coolly to start with. Some employees can feel intimidated when the boss suddenly turns up and starts asking questions and because of this they can become suspicious and reluctant to communicate.
Do not let this put you off. When your employees realise that your visits are routine, their suspicions will disappear. They may even see you as providing a welcome break from the job!
It is, however, important that you have a good explanation ready for your habit of walking around because your employees may ask you your reasons, as taught on any good management training course. If they do, tell them the truth: that you want to increase personal contact so that when problems arise in individual departments, you will find out in time. One danger of Management on the Move is that employees may try to use your visits to pass over their immediate superiors and escalate problem directly to you. It is important to discourage this inappropriate escalation as their immediate superiors must not get the impression that their authority is being undermined by your visits. Ask an employee first of all whether they have already talked it over with their superior, if not refer the problem back to the line manager to resolve.
How much time should bosses spend walking around? There are some who spend at least thirty minutes or so each day in their employees’ offices and in the works. Other people in charge prefer to talk to the staff during the coffee break. There really is no right or wrong answer. Indeed, you may deliberately choose to vary your routine so as to see as many different people as possible at different times of the day. For example, you could get into the habit of using a different entrance each day thereby talking to different people on your way to the office.
Richard Stone (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a Director for Spearhead Training Limited that specialises in running management and sales training courses. Richard provides consultancy advice for numerous world leading companies.