How To ‘Manage By Wandering Around’ as a Butler

A Butler needs to know a lot about the household he or she is working in.

The Butler needs to know the entire house; from the household maintenance programmes, through to the daily duties of the house and domestic staff working within its walls.

Many UHNW households have an estate manager or household manager who oversees the smooth running of the property, the Butler typically takes care of the ‘human side’. Still, there are basic supervisory tasks a Butler can be involved in, this is why a daily Management By Wandering Around strategy – MBWA, is a part of a Butler’s mantra.

Doing a daily house walk helps the butler to secure all daily routines, it can also help prevent negative surprises in many ways as well as creating a good routine for seeing the finer details.

A typical Butler MBWA includes

  • Noting down faults and defects, and keeping track of ongoing/to be arranged repairs. This should also be noted in the household manual.
  • Controlling and logging on all maintenance within the household.
  • Controlling and checking house hygiene and cleanliness.
  • Checking the kitchen, kitchen amenities, cups and plates, silver and glassware.
  • Maintaining flower arrangements. Cutting, watering, arranging and re-arrranging is a Butler know-how.
  • Controlling and checking temperatures in all of the property rooms according to the principal’s wishes.
  • Visually checking the wine-cellar and controlling temperature.
  • Checking all furniture, curtains, lamps, chandeliers.
  • Ensuring the security system is working efficiently. This is something a butler should test on regular basis.
  • Monitor battery power which works certain equipment and devices such as entertainment remote controls, HVAC remotes
  • Checking the fire alarms. Ensure you test them regularly and have a battery-log.
  • Talk to the household staff, see them, hear them. Quick domestic team meetings are a perfect way to do this.
  • If no there is Estate manager around, check the exterior of the property, this includes the gardens, and the garage which contains all automobiles.
  • Control cleaning practices and keep track of the household cleaning schedule.

Basically, the butler needs to see the little things as the big things and see that everything is in order on behalf of the principal or household manager.

Systematic MBWA is said to be inherited by Hewlett-Packard executives in the 80`s, it has been used actively in the Scandinavian Airline System and their legendary CEO Mr Jan Carlzon. History also claims that Mr Abraham Lincoln used it when inspecting his troops.

To see your people, check the facilities, talk, listen, watch and observe. The routine of MBWA is the little-kept secret for many leaders, managers and owners out there, and it is also a helpful act for a Butler. Use the time it takes, do not stress, use your vision, see results, look for faults and appreciate the walk itself.

Manage by doing, manage by helping and manage by wandering – MBWA

Mr Abraham Lincoln called his routine “Walking The Job”. He had some rules for a good wandering: Do not bring an entourage – Visit everybody – Ask for suggestions – Follow up – Never criticize anybody during the walk. If the President can do it, so can the Butler, and in the end, it may take time and effort, but it can yield excellent results.

«The truth of the story lies in the details – MBWA.»

Written by Tore Berger: F&B Consultant & Professional Butler founder of Berger Consulting 

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