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MANAGEMENT BY WALKING AROUND and LISTENING (MBWAL) is a management technique that is closely linked to the Open Door and other positive employee relations processes.

MBWAL is simply a means of promoting effective two-way communication between employees and managers. Two-way channels of communication provide for fruitful, immediate exchange between two or more parties, thus filling the gaps left open by other communications techniques. They enable employees to express concerns, make suggestions, or obtain answers to questions, while also providing management with a practical means to become informed about workers’ feelings or attitudes toward organizational issues–information that can be used to minimize misunderstandings and avoid serious employee relations problems.


Two-way communication programs are designed to maintain a flow of information between employees and management. For such programs to be effective, however, a number of conditions must be met:

  • Honest, frank, open communication is viewed as a means to accomplish company goals, and not to undermine authority or control.
  • Managers recognize that employees can offer insights into day-to-day activities that can help them make better decisions.
  • Managers go out and talk with employees, and work to establish a rapport that will encourage workers to share information that managers need.
  • When employees are asked for input, management listens to, carefully considers, and acts on what the workers have to say.
  • Every question is answered promptly.
  • Workers do not feel threatened if they speak with their supervisor’s superiors.


Essentially, MBWAL is a simple process with tremendous business benefit when done correctly and consistently. There are also serious adverse consequences when MBWAL is done badly or not at all. The following are guidelines for the COMPANY NAME process:

  • Get out and WALK (all spaces / every day).
  • LISTEN (know the difference between the mechanics of hearing and the intellectual aspects of “active listening”.
  • PROCESS INFORMATION (trends / recurring themes, immediate response issues, “get back to you” commitments, etc.)
  • COMMUNICATE (vertically and horizontally — information is only good if those who need to know get the information.)
  • FEEDBACK (provide indicators throughout the organization that communication is working; some tangible items on a consistent basis like process and policy change at the working level that were initiated there.)
  • NEVER QUIT (it’s a self-replenishing system — the catalyst is that MBWAL is absolutely the right thing to do)



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