Ways to Avoid Hovering Over Employees

Regardless of the industry, entrepreneurs vary when it comes to leadership styles. Some employers prefer the traditional top-down approach, while others treat their employees like equals who can IM them throughout the day and grab drinks with them once that day is over. But altogether, teams are formulated at startups to create things, to get things done — without micromanaging.

The approach of “MBWA” or “management by walking around” might sound like an outdated technique, but for some business owners, it still works—if not in a new way. To do so without micromanaging your employees—or even being in the same office space—impacts both a startup’s deadlines and the company culture as well.

We asked members of the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invitation-only nonprofit organization comprised of the country’s most promising young entrepreneurs, the following question to find out their advice for staying on top of their startup’s projects:

“”MBWA” or management by walking around: do you use it and if so, what’s your best tip to know what’s going on without micromanaging?”

Here’s what YEC community members had to say:

1. They’re the Boss Now

“If you’ve hired well, every key employee is more talented than you in their domain. So your value in an MBWA session is to listen, and help untangle challenges. At LabDoor, I’ll usually pull up a chair and sit quietly until I’m up to speed, offer a few pieces of helpful advice, and then let my teammate get back to work.”
~ Neil Thanedar, LabDoor

2. Gen Y Likes Frequent Check-Ins

“Micromanaging gets a bad rap because keeping close tabs on your employees requires a lot of time and effort on the part of the CEO or manager. Gen Y likes to have a lot of feedback, as long as you are allowing employees enough freedom to make mistakes and grow. I think frequently checking in can be a really great thing.”
~ Caitlin McCabe, Real Bullets Branding

3. Virtual Teams Tracking Time

“With my virtual team, the primary way I review my team’s time is by asking them to log in to track their time reporting. We use oDesk, and when logged in, the program screen captures every few minutes so I can see what my team has done when they log time. This helps ensure that a VA isn’t on Facebook when time is logged for article marketing and provides extra accountability.”
~ Kelly Azevedo, She’s Got Systems

4. Integrate Inquiries into Conversations

“I have used MBWA, and I’ve found that it really helps to strengthen one-on-one relationships with the people with whom I work. Once we start talking, it eventually becomes natural to bring up what they’re working on and get a status%2

The Young Entrepreneur Council The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.