As a leader in his company, Bud used what he called “Management by Wandering Around” (MBWA), where he’d stop into offices and ask the opinions of employees, clients, and others to gather insights about his organization and clients. He made it comfortable for people to give him contradictory advice and bad news. In doing so, he discovered major flaws in the company that called for radical change. One such issue was years of growing discord between himself and his partner, Marv Abelson, and its divisive impact on the organization.
Now, yes, this is one manager in one organization, and it doesn’t necessarily work for everyone. People are different, and I understand that. But there’s a growing amount of literature that simply walking around more — and sharing credit — can be huge reflections on your leadership.
It makes sense: the essence of “employee engagement,” whether or not you actually ‘get it,’ isn’t about pool tables and free ceral at 6pm. (That stuff is nice, though.) It’s about human-to-human connection, which most middle managers and bosses have kind of given up on over the last 30-40 years. (Here’s but one example of that.)
This is why it’s hard for me to believe you can solve engagement issues with software tools, because that just adds another layer of monitoring and work (which managers won’t want to do), and it puts another layer between the employer and employee.
Rather, just go walk around a bit more. It could make all the difference.