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23 Aug 2012

Change Management – Tactic #8: Management by Walking Around

This entry is part 8 of 9 in the series Change Management Tips

Change Management & Effecting ChangeNo matter how detailed and passionate someone describes his vacation to you, nothing compares to being there. The same holds true for assessing change and moving it forward: nothing compares to being there . . . there meaning with the people who are actually implementing the change.

Following up, repeating instructions, goals and reasons and allowing employees to experience us are vital techniques in moving our change effort forward. We can summarize all of these under “management by walking around” (MBWA – [detailed PDF]). As the analogy above implies, we cannot delegate ourselves to others.

Erwin Rommel, a World War II German general, was famous for touring and operating near the front lines so he could see the success and pace of his orders. As Rommel said:

A man must observe and learn for himself, since reports from second-hand sources cannot be relied upon as a base for important military decisions.

This becomes even more important if we personify the change, if employees view us as the initiators of the change. This means, via MBWA, employees will think change merely when seeing us; we need no words.

For example, at one presentation, a community banker said her President was visiting newly acquired branches in an acquisition about an hour’s drive away, but they were still experiencing problems changing the culture. By questioning her definition of visiting, I discovered he was only visiting once a quarter. He needed to be there at least every two to three weeks. How can employees change when they don’t even see their new leader?

MBWA requires patience but results will follow if we apply relentlessly, tap our full personal power and employ the other tactics in this series. Change does not move forward from our offices but rather from the front lines.
Checklist for a successful change initiative.

Series Navigation<< Setting The Mood For Change As A Change Management TacticHow to Succeed at Culture Change Management >>

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