In the past, people served machines. Today, machines free people to do what technology can’t: sell, service, and lead. As we explore this global shift from the industrial to the digital age, we cordially invite your voice in Developing the 21st Century Workforce™.
By Andrew Calvert
In one of my roles at a large US-based manufacturing company, I spent a portion of my week wandering around the office and plant. There were over 300 people in my building – tech support, finance, marketing, purchasing, material handlers, DTP operators and customer service. Quite a mix: Baby boomers, Nation builders, Gen X, Gen Y ...
As I wandered around I would stop and chat to people. Often I would have a joke to tell, a story to share, or a question to ask. And that last point is most important ... a question to ask.
You see, by wandering about I learned about the people I worked with, their challenges, victories, hopes, and fears. I found out whose daughter just got into medical school, whose parents were visiting (or driving them mad). I also found out who had a proposal into a ministry or was dealing with a troublesome vendor. And it is this information that allowed me to ask questions the next time I saw the person, to build a relationship that I could leverage into meaningful results when I needed to.
There were many managers in the building – more than a dozen I can recall. But only two of us used the principal of MBWA. The other managers were ill-informed about employee morale and opinion. People didn’t share ideas with them – even when they were encouraged to. The reason was that speaking to those managers was strange and unusual. By MBWA, my colleague and I were making it normal and safe to speak with us.
Fast forward to this economy, where fewer have to do more than ever before. Engaging EVERY employee as fully is possible is critical to getting results.
So the next time you have the chance, get out of your seat and take a walk.