Most small business/ small organization managers interact regularly with their staff members—assigning and coordinating work, answering questions and approving decisions, coaching on skills or techniques, “putting out fires,” and inquiring about progress and status of tasks you assigned.

This is an effective management technique, once dubbed “Management by Wandering Around” by Tom Peters and even given its own acronym MBWA.

The benefits:

Employees appreciate the wandering manager for her accessibility and just in time responses, and managers keep busy and deploy people and resources quickly.

How to improve:
However, MBWA tends to focus a manager’s time and staff’s attention on the daily tasks that consume the day—reacting and getting the job done. This often prevents managers from “getting to my list of projects”—our wish list of projects to improve our operations, customer care, revenue, and costs.

The solution:
In addition to ongoing feedback and coordination, also take time to debrief last year and plan for this one with each employee. Reviewing successes and planning for the coming year involves employees involves employees in creating a challenging and rewarding work plan that will increase their commitment and engagement.

There are several benefits of an annual review meeting with employees:

  1. Employees expect some type of “formal” review (in a sit down meeting, with written document to review)
  2. Builds trust and rapport with employees
  3. Allows employees an outlet to discuss accomplishments and concerns (last year) and job/ career goals (this year)
  4. Provides opportunity to recognize (and therefore reward with praise) an employee’s accomplishments
  5. Allows manager to find out what additional responsibilities and work would be challenging and interesting for an employee
  6. Discuss future department goals and how an employee’s job fits in
  7. Identify individual action plan items — items from manager’s project list that can be delegated and mutually decide a timeline and plan to accomplish

What should you discuss at this meeting? — here is a short list:

  • What are the important achievements of the past year?
  • What can be improved in your job to help you be more effective?
  • How can I as your supervisor assist you?
  • What skills or knowledge do you want to develop in the next year? How can this be accomplished?

So go ahead and schedule a sit down with everyone this month
it can be lunch in your office, or off site for coffee, or what works with your style.

Your employees will appreciate your time and attention.

As an added benefit- you can delegate some of your “to do’s” to finally get to that wish list this year.

If you finished half your wish list — what could you celebrate at next year’s meeting?

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