Management by Involvement

Jul 26, 2013

Stocking Shelves in Grocery Store

Another business that I had the opportunity to observe up close and personal was Wal Mart. They also hired a number of local police officers to work security there during the over night shift. They are open 24 hours and were having a lot of thefts late at night. Wal Mart is the largest retailer in the world. It was interesting to see how they “did” management.

What impressed me right away was how visible and approachable the managers were. This included the store manager, as well as all the assistant managers. They did not hide in their offices. Other than the store manager, I am not even sure the assistants had offices. They were almost always on the floor, working with and alongside their subordinates.

One night, a large shipment of goods came in and needed to be put out on the shelves. Big boxes were blocking the aisles. A number of employees were standing around, talking, laughing, and cutting up. There wasn’t much work getting done. The night manager walked up. Instead of telling them to get to work, he said, “Hey guys. We need to get this stuff put away. Can you help me?” He then started working, opening the boxes and putting items on shelves. Everyone else joined in. The manager worked alongside his subordinates for about ten minutes. He then said, “I have to go check on the rest of the store but I will be back later and see how you are doing. Let me know if you need anything.” He then left and the subordinates kept working until the job was finished.

This Wal Mart manager did three things that I think are worth mentioning. First of all, he told the subordinates what needed to be done. He did it, however, by requesting their help. Secondly, he showed them by example that he expected them to work. He didn’t just tell them what to do and leave. He worked alongside the workers for a few minutes. The last thing that he did was to let them know that he expected the job to be completed. This was done very subtly. He merely said as he left that he would be back to check on them later.

What do you think of the Wal Mart manager that I just described? Do you think that he was an effective manager? Would you like to work for someone like that?

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