Kelvinwright's Blog

postmodern thoughts

The MD Walk About

listening I read most days about employee engagement, workplace surveys, motivational indicators, etc. Postmodern Directors, company Presidents, Managing Directors and Senior HR staff have a wealth of data at their disposal now to measure how their staff are. From the comfort of their office, company leaders and HR Managers hope to get a feel for the organisation by studying statistics. Or they hope that an all-employee once a month/quarter meeting will make everybody feel “engaged”. Whilst important, for me one important change is required: Senior corporate leaders and HR staff need to start leaving their offices to go walk about. They should look for a face they don’t know and introduce themselves.


Representatives of the company’s mission and strategy

HR Managers and company leaders are the best people to reinforce a company’s mission, values and objectives. When talking one-to-one with employees, they have the opportunity to discuss where the organisation is going, to hear what issues are worrying staff, as well as getting to know the very people who work to achieve the company’s mission and objectives.


Listen to views from the shop floor

Every single employee has a unique opinion on the company.  When company leaders and HR staff go out and listen to their employees, ask them their opinion about what’s going on, they’ll begin to understand this. Very few employees have an opportunity to give their point of view one-to-one to the organisation’s senior leadership team. To give employees the opportunity to hear a strategic, senior-level point of view on the company, the sector, the competition, or the clients, will help them see that they are part of something much bigger than their individual department and think beyond their day-to-day job. It would also give each employee the chance to see the much bigger picture and to discuss the company from more than their own normally isolated perspective.



MDs, HR Managers, company leaders – we all have to make some difficult decisions in our day-to-day. The rhythm of work is ever faster, corporations grow and change at rates not seen before. HR staff and company leaders are often accused of not understanding their employees. A walk about allows them to listen first hand to what concerns and worries are beyond the walls of their office. It shows empathy with staff and allows them to engage (that word).


A Barometer

Most organisations where I have worked have gone through at least one major restructure during the time I’ve been there. These changes are announced (or not, in some cases) via email, all employee meetings, video conferences, etc. However, after a major change is implemented, it’s just assumed that the new org structure will simply function as hoped. By walking about and speaking to the staff affected by the change, leaders and HR staff can gage the sense of employee morale and how their employees are coping with the change.


A break from routine

When we sit at our desk all day long, we get tired from inactivity. When I go walk about, when I listen to staff, the blood gets moving around my body so that when I return, I feel refreshed, and the issue or problem that was staring at me from the monitor on my desk is now viewed with fresh eyes.


Of course, HR staff and company leaders could just stay in their offices, say they don’t have time to go walk about because there is a company to run and a job to do. They’ll miss all of the above opportunities. They can stay studying their workforce motivational indicators, the results of the latest employee survey, and the odd email sent in to the “Mail the boss” email address. But it’s not the same as speaking one-to-one with employees.



* Image from:


November 2, 2013 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , ,

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