Friday, 7 August 2009

Start Wandering Around

Tom Peters has always advocated ‘Management By Wandering Around’ as one of the most effective management styles. I never had a name for it – it’s what I did in some of my own management roles. But it was something I learnt. When I started doing a management job and got busy, I spent more and more time sitting at my desk dealing with budgets, proposals, staff appraisal forms, board minutes, meeting agendas, forecasts. But I soon realised this wasn’t spending enough time walking around my team or the operation I managed. So I started wandering around, walking the floors, seeing what was going on. Of course, this got me closer to the business, to the staff and to the customers. It meant I did my job better.

I think more people in management need to get up from their desks and start wandering around. This point was brought home in a documentary I heard on Radio 4’s ‘In Business’ programme about the UK’s Timpsons shoe repair firm. John Timpson manages his 550-shop business by dropping in on them all the time to find out what's going on, day by day. He calls it 'upside-down management'. He and his son James spend 3 or 4 days each week on the road visiting their shops, talking to employees and even serving customers because in James’s words:

‘The business isn’t about what happens at head office, business is about what happens where the money’s taken, and that’s where we need to be’

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