Take a Listening Tour

Two of the most important factors in keeping millennials engaged at work is authenticity and feedback. They want to be in an environment where they are not only heard, but can be who they actually are, learn new skills, and celebrate their unique talents.

Unfortunately, as a manager, you are not going to discover who your employees are and be in a position to celebrate their talents if you limit contact to emails, text messages, tweets or voicemail. To do so effectively takes one on one interaction.

An update on the tried and true Management by Walking Around method is Transformational Management by Walking Around developed by Ian Pratt from What Makes a Good Leader.  TMBWA is a leadership tool that gets you into the minds of your employees and engages your entire workforce in the visions and goals of your company. TMBWA is more than the simple walk and chat of traditional Management by Walking Around: It is a planned, organized interaction (a process) that provides you with insight into your business, your employees, and their processes, cultures, and attitudes. Successful leadership thrives on this valuable information. It is essential for shifting the focus of conversations to your priorities, building company spirit, exceeding your targets, and driving change.

Below is the simple process you can use to implement this method, which in turn will improve your culture and business results:


Preparation is the key to a conversation that yields insights and change. Take a few minutes each day to educate yourself about each employee’s performance, improvements (or lack of), ideas, suggestions, training, and targets. Decide on a goal for your conversations. This planning is what elevates traditional management by walking around to the transformational tool it is.


Time your approach so that your employees are open to a chat. You want them to be free to engage and therefore at ease and without distractions. Don’t interrupt them at busy times, when they are with customers, or when on a break. You may need to try several different times until you discover what works best for you and your employees.


You can and should be open to talking with every one of your employees. Tell them when you notice something positive. Offer praise. Ask how they achieved their accomplishments or what struggles have contributed to their lack of success. Ask about concerns and ideas. And most importantly, listen more than you talk.


You may find that during your first walks, employees aren’t offering ideas or communicating freely. Don’t be discouraged. Repetitive visits and discussions will eventually encourage employees to bring their ideas forward. Frequent TMBWA will also improve results because you’ll reach employees as issues arise and are fresh in their minds.

This method – or process – is one of the keys to a successful talent management strategy, designed to improve culture, employee engagement, performance and business results.

Source: What is Transformational Management by Walking Around?, What Makes a Good Leader, Ian Pratt, Director

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Jackie Messersmith is President and CEO of Talent Management LLC. Talent Management provides consulting services to small to mid-size businesses to put a top performing culture and talent strategy in place, and is the developer of Talent Snapshot®, an integrated, competency based, online talent management solutions. Jackie can be reached at 513-528-9700 or jackie@talentmanagementllc.com.