Managing From Behind The Desk Can Be Very Risky

Managing From Behind The Desk Can Be Very Risky

Many managers do not want to walk around and get the insight into what happens in the workplace. They instead choose to barricade themselves behind piles of reports, meetings, and a heavy workload. They instead decide to barricade themselves behind heaps of reports, meetings, and a heavy workload.  But managers need to know that managing from behind the desk can be very risky and dangerous. 

Why Managing From Behind the Desk Can Be Very Risky? 

You cannot manage behind the desk and expect to be on top of issues unless you pretend that everything is just excellent and prepared for the consequence.  

Many of us become experts at hiding our ignorance of details and quickly flick the responsibility to others whenever we get exposed.  We find it easier and more comfortable to manage behind the desk because that gives us a sense of safety and false control.  

Whatever company or department you are managing, you must learn how it functions on all levels.  Sitting in the office reading and writing emails, attending meetings and presentations and analyzing the reports is necessary.   But you have little chance of knowing what exactly is going on in detail.   

There are tons of benefits to you and the business when you get out of the office. Going on a routine, structured walkabout will uncover many negative things sooner.  That will allow you to act as quickly as necessary.  And your presence will be known daily.      

Regular Walkabouts will put you in direct contact with all employees.  You will know who is who, what they do and listen to what they have to say. It will also be a great time to do some high-level coaching and training.  And a great way to discover new improvement opportunities for the business.

Try these steps below as a guide for your first structured walkabout;

1. Make a Weekly Plan

Have a weekly plan and ensure that it is on your calendar (focus on one area each day, for example; Sales on Monday, Finance on Tuesday, Logistics on Wednesday).

 A productive, structured walkabout should take about one hour.  But you can always extend it depending on your needs.  However, self-discipline and consistency are needed to have an effective walkabout.

2. Plan Your Walk Around Route

When you plan your walkabout route, ensure that include all employees in your focus area.  Make sure you are well prepared and start your walkabout with a purpose in mind.

3. Listen Actively

You must pay your total attention and listen unconditionally to what employees have to say. Also, avoid any temptations to distract, judge or contradict. 

Make sure you do not interrupt when they are talking.  If you miss something, paraphrase what has been said to confirm your understanding.  When you paraphrase, you are restating the issues to confirm that your knowledge of what they say.

4. Encourage Questions

You must open up yourself for questioning first.  Wait until someone comes to a natural stop and then ask your questions.

5. Take Notes

You must create a walkabout action log sheet.  On this log sheet, write down any issues and concerns picked up during your walkabout that may require attention.  

The log sheet is your walkabout visibility tool – use it to trigger actions and follow-up to ensure all issues and concerns get solved in time. 

6. Watch Your Actions

Do not try to micromanage, criticize, or blame, try to catch people out or pick on individuals during your walkabout.  People will react defensively by hiding important information from you.  

You need to maintain people trust, respect, and good reputation. But your reputation can only be gained through your actions and reinforced by you being a manager of integrity.

7. Praise and Give Feedback  

Make sure you thank people for their effort and good work, so they understand they are valued.  Giving feedback is essential for employee morale and job satisfaction

Going on a walkabout is like going on a fact-finding exercise to understand the level of peoples’ morale and job satisfaction.  You’ll determine all perceptions that people may have about you, their job, the company or department, and others.  

In other words, you’ll know all kinds of details about a range of issues you cannot get from reading what’s on your desk.

More reading; How Do Great Managers Release People’s Potential?

Do you manage from behind the desk? Leave your thoughts in the comments box below

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1 Comment

  1. For those of us in operations management, carrying out Structured walk about is exceptionally critically and non-negotiable. Indeed, it reveals alot and opens one up to improvement opportunities. If you can get to a point where you conduct regular and structured walkabouts effortlessly, it surely would be a real feather in your cap.

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