One of the CEOs I coach starts his day by walking the floor of his extended facility and checking in with managers and employees of the various departments, especially the call center. He tries to feel the pulse of the company by the intensity of motion, the metrics of backlog, and the stated problems brought to him as he asks.
Is he a relic of bygone times, when employees worked in a single facility, managed directly by people who could see and speak to them in person? In this age of remote work forces, self–managed contractors and employees, outsourced call centers and development, is this a dying art?
And does the presence of a caring CEO taking the time to check in personally change anything after the waves of his or her presence pass in the calm of departure?
[Email readers, continue here…] Everyone knows when the CEO or senior manager stays in their personal office, especially when closing the door, that “something must be wrong” or “the person doesn’t care enough” or “what does he or she do all day?”
It is more than showing the flag when a manager or CEO spends time focusing upon the immediate issues of subordinates and offers resources to solve problems without the need for formal meetings. It is a mark of corporate culture when everyone knows that those above are serving them in very visible ways by taking the time to hear and react.
But there is something more. A good manager can feel the mood and the level of business activity, but not easily from behind a desk or on the other end of a phone call.
It is one of the reasons that senior managers who travel to the workplace from afar and show their presence only several days each week are not as effective as companies grow and span of control increases.
Does management by walking around still work? Is it as valuable as it once was before our communications systems became so complex and well defined?
Yes. Yes. And yes.