Managing Your Blog By Walking Around (MYBBWA)
Have you heard of the management term, Management by Walking Around (MBWA)? The concept was introduced by business gurus Tom Peters and Bob Waterman in their bestselling book “In Search of Excellence: Lessons from America's Best-Run Companies.” The idea is that to be a good manager you need to get out of the corner office and mingle with the people you’re leading.
I think these same concepts of MBWA can be applied to running a blog. Let me explain.
First of all, it’s important to note that MBWA requires honing two very important leadership skills: 1) the ability to be present and listen and 2) authentic personal involvement. MBWA suggests that managers can’t expect greater connection with their staff by face-time alone.
Similarly, bloggers can’t expect that publishing daily posts will lead to hoards of traffic and engaged readers. Below are some of the main principles of MBWA, followed by ways you can apply them to connecting with your readers.
Take a walk. The main principle of MBWA is fairly straightforward. You need to walk around. Managers have a tendency to hole themselves up in their office because they’re busy, or they’re running from meeting to meeting. MBWA suggests that being out and around the people who work for you is important.
Be relaxed. MBWA recognizes that the mere presence of a manager can cause stress in the people who work for him or her. Managers are encouraged to minimize this reaction by staying relaxed themselves.
- Blog Impact: When was the last time you took “a walk” around your own blog? Do you know what your readers go through when trying to post a comment? Take a minute to stroll through your blog but be sure you’re logged out so you can see it through the eyes of someone arriving at your site for the first time. Are there any barriers to comments that you need to address? Take regular strolls through your blog (particularly after launching a new plug-in) so you stay in front of issues.
Encourage Sharing. MBWA suggests encouraging your staff to share good news about what’s working well in their departments.
- Blog Impact: The famous food blogger, David Lebovitz says this about his blog, “the site is my personal space, I don’t have copyeditors hovering, as I do with my books. The site is a casual, fun place to report on things I find, places I go, and things I’m eating.” Although we all agree it’s important to keep an eye on the details, blogs are a great of example of the famous saying, "don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good."
Be Yourself. MBWA encourages managers to talk to people about their families, hobbies, and sports.
- Blog Impact: It’s tempting when preparing blog posts to use the tried-and-true beginning, middle and end approach to writing. I do this too, but sometimes it’s good to leave space for your readers to fill in the blanks. For example, I write a lot about names on my site (names are my passion!) and I recently wrote a post about pop songs with personal names in the title. I had a huge list of songs I was ready to publish, but then I realized that if I covered the gambit, what would be left for my readers to contribute? I quickly honed the list down to my top 20. Just as I had hoped, readers contributed their own ideas to the list, which was exactly what we want as bloggers! It’s ok to leave your posts a little open-ended, especially if that encourages your readers to share their comments.
Ask for Feedback. MBWA suggests that managers ask their staff to give opinions about ways to make improvements.
- Blog Impact: One great way of getting people to share about their families and hobbies is to talk about your own. I love going to the La Mia Vita Dolce site because not only does Grace share wonderful recipes and pictures, but she also talks about what’s going on in her family. I sometimes feel like a member of her family (if only I could have some of those desserts that she writes about!). People are looking for a sense of community and you can be a part of that by sharing with them about your life. Hopefully in return, they’ll share about theirs as well.
Give Recognition. Another MBWA principle is to notice when people do things right and be sure to recognize them for it in one way or another – maybe it’s through a personal note or a mention in a staff meeting.
- Blog Impact: Have you ever checked in with your readers to see what they do or don’t like about your blog? This can be done through a survey or you can pick one or two readers and contact them directly. Darren Rowse at ProBloggers even encourages bloggers to find someone who hasn’t already seen the site (I know, that will be hard) and walk through it with them to see what they like and don’t like and be prepared for honest feedback. Translation? Don’t be defensive; just listen and take notes. This is the opinion of just one person. Take it for what it’s worth.
Shared Vision. MBWA means that managers should talk about the mission and shared vision of the departments, projects, and the company as a whole. Continued on the next page
- Blog Impact: Take time to recognize others on your blog. If there’s another site you really enjoy reading, mention them with a link in one of your posts. If it’s a blog you go to regularly, why not put them on your blogroll list? You can also consider writing profiles about your readers. The NeverHomemaker's Reader Spotlight is a great example of this. My personal philosophy is that a rising tide lifts all ships. Be the rising tide and lift other ships (blogs and readers) when you can.