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Management walkarounds 7 steps

The objective of walkarounds is for managers and supervisors to gather information that not only has the potential to make things better and safer but also the potential to divert disaster.

7 steps
1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7.

Be brave Be prepared Be assertive Be focussed Be persistent Be accurate Be reliable


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Step 1

Be brave
Pussyfooting - behaving in a too cautious way because you are not sure what to do and are afraid to commit yourself. Face it. It is a lot easier and more comfortable to sit in your o!ce and talk with people who you know, who you get on with and who you interact with regularly. Besides, you are too busy to get down to the machine room as often as you would like. So, the rst step is to nd the courage. You have to leave your comfort zone. You will need to talk with people you may not know very well, about things you may not know too much about, and gather information that you may not want to hear because it might mean more stress and work for you.

I will not play safe.

Step 2

Be prepared
Prepared - to be willing and able (to do something) Being prepared will help you through step 1. The more you are prepared the more condent and able you will be. A walkaround is not about kissing babies and shaking hands. It is obviously good for a manager to be seen at the coalface but a walkaround is not a PR exercise. It is a specic task that requires planning and skill. Things you should know before you step out your door.

Where will I walk? ________________________________________________________________



________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ What are the processes I will see? Refer to summary documents so that you remind yourself of what should be happening and how. ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ Who will be there? What are their names? What are their jobs? What should they be doing? ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________

Has there been a particular incident or event that I can discuss with them? ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ Do I have a story to tell that will help break the ice?



________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________

Step 3

Be assertive
Assertive - condent in stating your position in a way that respects others and their views. The main objective of walkarounds is to talk directly to employees on the job and to gather information by engaging them in a conversation and asking the right questions. A walkaround is not an interrogation or an audit. A manager needs to be assertive and NOT aggressive. Encouraging sta" to interact is not straightforward. It requires skill. No doubt you have witnessed managers who clearly did not have the skills and the interaction falls at with the only outcome being conict or aggravation. 3 tips on how to be assertive and achieve your objective

Be direct but dont blame

Im concerned that I want to talk about the issue of .


Be specic
We have had issues with this procedure. You may remember

when .
What is the safe range of operation for this ...?

Use facts
The issue I am talking about resulted in three near misses in the past

12 months. Production was up 6% last week what do you think contributed to that?




Repeat yourself (if you must)

I hear what you are saying but can I bring you back to my original

concern. Is this outside the safe working range .? Tips for assertive body language

Do I look people in the eye when I speak with them? Do I slouch, fold my arms or generally look distracted or uninterested? Do I look relaxed and at ease?

Step 4

Be focussed
Focussed - having or showing a clear and denite purpose. Not having a clear picture of your objective means you really are starting your walkaround o" on the wrong foot. So, it is essential to know the objective of your walkaround, that is to walk away with new and valuable information or to exchange valuable information. One manager described their walkarounds like this We didnt just drop in, kick a few tyres, shake hands and say how are you going buddy. We had a specic agenda and task. Tips to stay focussed

I will not stay too long on the general and easy topics.

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I will not talk about my own pet topics, the ones I am interested and comfortable with. I know this may stie any new issues that an employee might have raised. I will not allow the conversation to drift o" track. I will:
Use open questions to raise issues and closed questions to keep the

discussion in check and on track. Example Could you describe that step for me, so I am clear? (open) Okay, I think Ive got that that. Is there anything more to that? (closed)

Step 5

Be persistent
Persistent - continue in a course of action even in the face of di!culty. Some managers have the view walkarounds are not really that useful because they dont reveal anything new. They feel the employees dont like to talk too much about anything and the conversation hits a brick wall. The reason this is often the case is that the manager does not know how to direct a conversation so that it can be an exchange of valuable information. Is this walkaround conversation familiar? Manager
How are things?

Yeah, good.

Any problems?

No, not that I can think of.

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It is a meaningless conversation because the manager is not using the right type of question. A walkaround conversation should be more like this: Manager
This is a really interesting process. What are the key things you watch out for?

The levels.

What do you mean? Can you give me an example?

Tips to direct the conversation with the right question

I will probe to a deeper level. Probing questions uncover deeper issues and obtain more detail. They are especially useful for building on a weak answer because they can get better information. Probing questions can sound like an interrogation and so they should be used in combination with other open questions. Examples might start with How do you know .....?, and How can you be sure that ....? I will challenge people. Challenging questions are used when someones answers contradict previous answers they have given, or observations you have made. Care must be taken to make sure you do not appear argumentative or aggressive. You just want clearer information. Examples might start with In light of the issues you raise are you saying that ....? and I note that there was a similar incident last month. Are you saying youre not too concerned about .....? I will always ask for their view.

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The self evaluation question encourages people to really think deeply and honestly. Try How do you see things? or How do you think things are going? I will not talk and talk and talk. Use silence. A walkaround is not all about the manager and what he has to say. If the conversation stalls, avoid lling the gap and give the employee time to think. Silence can often unearth information that would never have the light of day, if you hadnt kept quiet.

Step 6

Be accurate
Accuracy - Giving a correct or truthful representation of something. Every walkaround should reveal new and valuable information. It should be a learning experience for all involved. But information is only useful if it is accurate and reliable. Tips to make sure of what you are hearing

I will test my (and their) understanding. Reecting questions test understanding. In your own words, you express what has been said without agreeing or disagreeing, to make sure you've understood correctly. They usually start with something like So let me see if Ive got this right? There will be situations where you might be sharing valuable information with an employee. You will want to make sure they have understood what you are telling them. Instead of asking do you understand, try something like How do you think this might apply to your work?

I will make sure we are on the same page.




Summarising at the end of an exchange is an opportunity to list or tie together the main points covered in the conversation. Summarising is a powerful way to show you are interested and that you have been listening. It is also an opportunity to reinforce the important points that have been raised and to test mutual understanding. Try something like The issue seems to be .. and Okay, what I will do is to . How does that sound to you?

Step 7

Be reliable
Reliable - Able to be trusted to do what is expected or promised. Nothing will jeopardise the future success of walkarounds more than a lack of follow through. If the manager has said that further investigation is needed or specic action is to be taken, then this must be done and feedback given to those involved. Tips to make sure of follow through

I will immediately record the ndings and actions. I will ensure all communication regarding the ndings or issue will be consistent with a no blame culture. I will identify others in the organisation who may benet from the ndings and the lessons learned and communicate to these groups. I wont leave loose ends.

Nicholas and Smith DVD training resources include: DVD: Mindful Leadership Communication Skills