THE ADVANTAGES OF ‘MANAGEMENT BY WALKING AROUND’
I heard a term at the Technology & Maintenance Council meetings several years cited by truck maintenance guru Darry Stuart, which really stuck with me. He was promoting the MBWA: Management by Walking Around. Fleet maintenance managers shouldn’t be holed up in their office, they need to get out on the floor to see what the technicians are doing. Are they busy? Are the opportunities to improve processes? These things can often only be identified by getting out there with them on the shop floor.
Interviewing this year’s Volvo Trucks Canada Fleet Maintenance Manager of the Year, Lloyd De Merchant, he referred several times to the same style of management, one that he too, endorses. I asked why he’s such a believer in MBWA. And be sure to check out the August issue of Truck News for a lengthy profile on Lloyd. But for now, here’s a snippet from our hour-long conversation. Over to you, Lloyd…
“Growing up in the industry, the boss would come to me and say ‘This is how it’s done,’ but he would never explain why this is how it’s done,” Lloyd told me. “And if you’re not walking the floor, how can you pat them on the back? When I was coming up through the industry before Penske, there was not a lot of patting on the back. You called a technician in when he did something wrong. When I went to Penske it was an eye-opener because I had people coming over and telling me I did a good job.”
“I can tell my people my door’s always open, but do you think they’re going to come up here?” he continues. “When I’m in the shop, they’ll talk to me. It helps me understand my technicians and the emotions in the shop. If they’re stressed or they’re tired or they have something going wrong at home – that’s what I care about.”
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I have to agree with Lloyd 100%. Getting out there is key. Another one of my management skills is to pat them on the back for ONE MINUTE or reprimand them for ONE MINUTE. When patting them on the back for a minute the employee feels good about what they are doing. Going over the one minute may give a sense of false gratification. As well, reprimanding for more than one minute will leave a bad taste in the employee’s mouth and he/she may feel that you are treating them like a child and leave thinking of the reprimand rather than the reason for the reprimand.