Translate The Website




  • Run A Better Marina. Take a Walkabout.

    The key to improving your marina really might be as simple as taking a purposeful walk. We have a few hints and tips to make it a productive use of your time.


    Management by walking around (also known as management by wandering around) is not a new concept. First proposed in the 1982 book by Tom Peters and Robert H. Waterman, “In Search of Excellence: Lessons from America’s Best Run Companies,” the authors found that a common factor among successful companies was that managers spent much of their time in the field instead of the office. The book found that managers using MBWA were more aware of their company’s operations and were better able to solve problems. This idea was given further legitimacy when the founders of Hewlett Packard also mentioned this practice as part of the “HP Way”.


    Connect Managers and Employees
    At its heart, MBWA is a tool used to connect managers to their employees and business. For a majority of marina owners, this probably describes their everyday routine. An unstructured walk through various parts of the marina, talking to employees and opening up lines of communications.

    Make Managers Accessible
    This makes a manager more approachable and more likely that employees will communicate issues before they become problems. By spotting issues before they can become big problems, the manager will be in a better position to guide his team through a solution.

    Gain Greater Understanding
    Being on the front line will also improve the manager’s overall understanding of the day-to-day operations, functions, and processes at work.

    Increase Morale, Accountability, and Productivity
    Team members will feel motivated when informal conversations allow them to express their opinions. This connectedness often leads to better morale and accountability and increased productivity, not only for the team members, but for the manager as well, as MBWA often help reduce interruptions by addressing important issues in person rather than through emails.

    Though it’s easy to just wander around and to make a presence, if you don’t follow up properly, you may find yourself in a worse situation.

    MWBA only works when a manager is truly inspired to want to know team members and processes. Feeling an obligation without the passion to do the MBWA defeats the purpose. The manager must be committed to gathering feedback, even when on face value it may seem negative.

    A significant factor of why MBWA works is the trust factor. If the manager is perceived as spying or interfering, employees will not offer up their trust. It’s important to consider how you approach your team members so they are willing to offer suggestions for improvements.


    Be Casual and Spontaneous
    If the manager comes off as being formal, he will only get formal and rigid responses.

    • Foster unstructured conversations. This will put the team at ease and promote a relaxed and neutral environment for feedback.
    • Watch body language. You can tell when someone is feeling uncomfortable or hesitant to share.
    • Dress appropriately. For instance, wearing a three-piece suit to a production meeting will come off as overly formal for the setting.
    • Vary the times and locations. Keep an element of randomness and spontaneity, regular but random.

    Listen More, Talk Less
    The manager should show interest and ask questions in a curious and meaningful manner.

    • Ask what they are working on, how they feel about their jobs, or what they find difficult.
    • Do they understand how their work adds to the big picture?
    • Also ask for ideas how to make things better.
    • Don’t shoot down ideas or come off as judgmental or negative.
    • Gather information now and act later.

    Be Comprehensive
    To be effective, the MBWA needs to apply evenly to all departments and facets of the marina business.

    • Avoid the appearance of favoritism.
    • Don’t spend more time with one department over others.

    Accolades and Approvals
    Managers should be on the watch for successes instead of failures.

    • Give compliments freely. This goes a long way to improving morale as well as showing gratitude by management. If there is good news, let everyone know about it. Use your wanderings as an opportunity to share positive information.

    Embrace Genuine Dialogue
    The workplace isn’t always about work.

    • Foster a work environment that employees look forward to. This can be accomplished with genuine dialogue.
    • Build relationships by chatting with team members, sharing jokes, and showing interest in their personal lives. Don’t overdo it – strike a balance. They’re still employees, not friends.

    Follow Up
    The most common point of failure in MBWA is not following up on your observations.

    • Schedule time to develop a post-walk action plan, or a Plan-Do-Check-Act cycle.
    • Delegate appropriately. This is an opportunity to make sure your management staff isn’t circumvented. This is a chance for them not only to learn about potential problems in their department but to be a part of the solution as well.
    • Translate ideas into actual and significant change.

    If you’d like more information, here are a few additional resources::

    MBWA – The Essential Guide

    Why MBWA Could be Your Best Management Strategy