If you’ve heard how the Tesco boss Dave Lewis is now sending thousands of his staff, including senior executives, back to the supermarket shop floor as part of plan to woo back the disgruntled customers, what was your response?

In an article in the Guardian on 01.10.14, by Sarah Butler and Zoe Wood, “Lewis emailed 4,000 staff on Tuesday asking them to work one day a fortnight in stores in the run-up to Christmas in an initiative dubbed Feet on the Floor. Lewis and the new finance director, Alan Stewart, will be among those spending alternate Thursdays and Fridays in stores for the next three months. The idea is an acceleration of Tesco’s annual “helping hands” effort in which head office staff commit to stack shelves or work the tills for two days of the final week before Christmas.” 

In their statement about it, Tesco said: “Understanding customers even better is critical to our future success and there is no better opportunity for office colleagues than by supporting our stores in the run-up to Christmas.”

There may be lots of reasons as to why this tactic is being used by Tesco beyond just managing the Christmas retail surge. Whatever they are, the 'Managing By Walking Around' (MBWA) strategy, can be a super effective way for managers to get and stay connected with their team and stay abreast of operational developments and issues. Done well, it delivers a sense of management approachability, trust, morale, accountability and business awareness. It also suggests an effort by managers and senior staff, as the Kuntar retail analyst Bryan Roberts says in that Guardian story, to 'get (their) hands dirty.'

Here are 5 Top Tips to effectively use the MBWA approach in the workplace from Creativedge:-

1. Wander around equally

Don’t spend more time in one department of section than another. You shouldn’t talk to the same people or to people with certain jobs, you need to be seen as approachable by everyone, regardless of their role.

2. Get ideas and feedback

Let everyone know that you want to hear their ideas for improvement. As their manager, people may think that your opinions and ideas are the ‘right’ ones. Hold back from simply saying what you are thinking: the goal in MBWA is to find out what others want to say. Ask your teams for feedback on things like:-

– How am I doing this week?

– How did you rate the briefing on ‘X’ matter this week on a scale of 1 to 10?

– What are this week’s successes/issues?

Then keep quiet, listen, and thank them for their feedback. Don’t get all aggressive!

3. Meet ‘Out and About’

Why have all the meetings in the office? Meet you staff in work areas or on their turf. This will set them at ease and help you to clearly and calmly communicate your expectations and needs with everyone so they know what you value.

4. No judging!

That’s not how MBWA works. Don’t use the MBWA as a chance to judge or critique. This will make people nervous. Remember, the aim of the MBWA is to connect and get close to staff NOT to check up on them or catch them out. If you do see something of concern, then you should talk to the person about it. Just do it later and in private.

5. Don’t overdo it!

Never, ever leave you people feeling that you are always looking over their shoulders. You should aim to wander around often enough to get a good feel for what’s going on, but not so often that your presence feels like you are snooping or checking up on them.

Do you or your company practise the MBWA method? If so, do share any outcomes with me and reader of our blog.

And if want more useful tips about how to effectively include MBWA in your business or for any other useful management tips from experts at Creativedge, visit the new, free, Creativedge ‘Top 10 Tips’ App available for iPhone, Android and Windows smartphones:-