As leaders and managers, we know that walking around the organization and interacting with employees represents an opportunity to gather information and intelligence and keeping in touch with operations. This is what the walk-around can do for you, but if it doesn’t happen, there is always the weekly staff meeting, where much of the same information will be discussed. And increasingly managers are also getting the operational picture from their e-mail and smart phones. As a result, many managers are foregoing their walk-arounds.
But does the real value of the walk-around come from the opportunity to gather data or does it come from the opportunity for personal interaction? Ask employees what is their number one criticism of busy managers and you will inevitably find it is their lack of physical presence. Comments such as “My Director has never even visited our office. I am quite sure he doesn’t even know who I am!”
Beyond the pay cheque and beyond the rewarding work; people have a visceral need to be recognized and valued. As trite an act as it may seem to the manager, a walk-around represents a physical demonstration that the manager and the organization acknowledge the individual employees. It demonstrates a sacrifice of valuable time which is internalized by the individuals as being measurably valuable.
The purpose of the walk-around is not based on what it can do for the manager, but rather what it can do for the employees. Employees who feel valued by their manager and organization are more likely to be loyal, cooperative, engaged, contributing and creative. Considering the organization employs managers for the very purpose of developing these attributes in their employees, the ‘sacrifice of time’ by the manager seems easily justified.