In the era of emails and text messages, you probably (hopefully) advocate that staff engage in phone calls and face-to-face meetings with clients as much as possible. The same is true for how you manage them.
Today’s millennial workers want to be managed by communication, collaboration, and interaction. Particularly in an industry like accounting where it is challenging — still — to attract and retain talent.
MBWA – management by wondering/walking around – dates back to In Search of Excellence, the groundbreaking book by Tom Peters and Robert Waterman. It is a concept that works tremendously well when applied appropriately (i.e., be friendly, not friends).
Make it a part of your daily and/or weekly routine to spontaneously walk around, if only for 15 minutes. Take different sections each time, avoiding the offices, so that you are exposed to the non-partner employees including admin, interns, and home office professionals (marketing, HR, IT). Engage the younger staff in conversation. Get to know them. Inquire about trends in their work and ask for ideas in creating better efficiencies.
The lesson here: Those leaders who are viewed more favorably by their younger staff make it a point to talk and interact with them, periodically join firm-sponsored meals, and participate in activities.
Really want your firm to stand out in the way you lead? Make the routine part of your partners’ days as well. Most likely, they already MBWA their teams, but venturing into another area of the firm can help to break down silos of communication and approachability.
Sometimes it’s the small steps that make great firms.