Are You A Seagull Manager?
Cleanfax Magazine – March 2014
In many of my leadership and management development programs, I often discuss the term “Seagull Manager.” After some very strange looks and sometimes even stranger remarks, I attempt to clarify what this means.
If you are in business, you are going to have problems, issues, and concerns that pop up not only on a daily and hourly basis but sometimes even minute to minute. When faced with a problem or issue, rather than take the time and effort to think it through first, Seagull Managers fly in, make a lot of noise, dump stuff on someone else (or on the entire team), and fly off, thinking they have solved another problem and feeling really good about themselves. After all, that’s what you pay your employees for, right?
In his book Squawk, Travis Bradberry, Ph.D. warns us that, while this behavior happens in every workplace, it is not a productive way to work. He illustrates important business lessons through the story of Charlie, a seagull who doesn’t understand how his management actions are holding his flock back from success. By showing his readers the issues Charlie creates in his own workplace, Bradberry illustrates how we can all manage more effectively with a little less noise and a lot more productivity.
Robert T. Cancalosi, Chief Learning Officer at G.E. Healthcare, has also discussed this term. He says, “Seagull management practices kill organizational effectiveness. You might get favorable short-term results with swooping, squawking, and dumping behaviors, but in the long run, they will demoralize a strong workforce and destroy the productivity of teams.”
Why is this so? In reality, it all comes down to motivation. In today’s workplace, you cannot force anyone to be motivated. What you can do is create an environment in which your employees feel motivated, included, and appreciated. When this happens, the results are: a recognizable and measureable improvement in quality, customer service, productivity, and profitability, all of which are critical to sustaining and growing successful businesses. Seagull managers do just the opposite, lowering motivation and teamwork and causing normally high-performing employees to leave the nest in search of brighter horizons.
So my questions to you all are very simple: are you a seagull manager or, just as bad, do you allow seagull managers in your companies? If so, how do you stop?
First and foremost, recognize the power of a motivated and engaged workforce. Work toward solving problems cooperatively. Set high expectations for all of your employees, but make sure you are giving them the tools and resources needed to perform their jobs. This includes training, education, development, and the ability to make mistakes but learn from those mistakes. Hold everyone accountable, and always be firm, fair and consistent each and every day.