Why do seagulls always get the bums rush?
There are upwards of 70 breeds of gulls out there in North America alone and it doesn’t seem to matter what type they are or where you are they always seem to be the albatross of the waterfront bird. Cursed. Is the gull so hated because of their sheer numbers or is it just because they are so damn pesky? Are they the avian version of the rat?
It certainly seems so.
We go to this place in Florida every year (or so) where my wife’s family has a vacation property that is inhabited by another type of bird altogether; the blue jay. The sports type. There are birds that resemble gulls there too but these ones are somewhat cool looking. They are white, have a black mohawk and bright orange beaks. Yep, the regular run of the mill gull is hanging around but these cool cats don’t usually mingle. Well, that’s probably because they are actually terns; the Least Tern or some variety thereof. Hey, I’m no Ornithologist. To me, they look the same as the gulls that hang around; only different.
No matter where you go if there is anything nearby that resembles a coastline there will be the oh-so-dreaded gull; the seagull. Those Floridian mohwaked orange beaked numbers , the Least Terns, are not really rare, they’re just regional and just like the common gull that exists among us there is another altogether different breed of seagull that hangs around that is also, and unfortunately, not so rare; the seagull manager.
C’mon, you know one don’t you?
Can you recognize the markings? Like gulls they come in many forms but they all have easy to spot characteristics just like our black mohawked orange beaked friends.
- Have you ever experienced management that never asks questions? Look out! Seagull. They’ll crap right on your jacket. Damn.
- Or what about management that has all the answers? Boom! You’ve been hit again.
- Or how about when no matter how hard you try your ideas are never good enough? Ever. Blammo! Now you’ll have to get that suit cleaned, for sure.
These tell-tale signs are as common as our coastal friends and just like the dreaded seagull you can most definitely see them coming.
No, not the lovable Daffy kind of duck but the get the heck out of the way because it’s coming your way type of duck.
So, what’s an avian lover to do?
Well, if you can’t change them then you can set some traps. Some simple netting and a few tasty left over morsels will do. They are not usually fussy and take whatever they can get. After all it’s eat or be eaten out there is the wilds of cubicle land.
Here are some tips for some good traps:
- Attitude: Display an awesome attitude toward your work. Engage your manager in it. Go see them. Discuss. Ask for some constructive feedback. It will help them see who you are and how you operate.
- Active participation: That’ll shut them up. Most people will clam up in the face of adversity. If you remain calm and ask a relevant intelligent question or offer a realistic tangible point of view you may be amazed. The caw will clamp shut and they may even take notice. If they don’t get the heck out of there before you have to make another trip to the dry cleaner. It’s worth the effort though so keep trying.
- Communicate: What happens when something goes wrong? You talk about it. You sort it out. But what happens when things go right? The same? Hardly ever. The baseline expectation is that things will go according to plan and that’s what should be expected. Why not acknowledge good things as often as the bad? It builds rapport and because it went well likely you and your manager will be smiling. It’s good. Do it more. Go talk to your manager about the good things that happened to you.
- Be visible: If you are part of a big team and you’re busy then there is the propensity for your manager to forget who you are. A monthly all team meeting or a quarterly review or yearly performance review is not going to cut it. You don’t have to be in their face but it’s a good idea to say hi. If the mood is right make some small talk or show an interest in their life. You’d be amazed what a little friendly banter can get you in the visibility department. You won’t be Joe Schmoe over there doing that job you’ll be Joe that guy who took an interest and will be more visible the next time there is a group hug.
So there you go my fellow employee.
But wait, I thought this was about the seagull manager?
Yes, we wrote those tips as traps for the employee but they were really meant a guise for the manager. As a manager, leader or boss (yuk, such an old school term) these ideas apply to you as much if not more than your team. Why? Because as the awesome manager you really are you naturally lead by example. So, go ahead and use the MBWA method but please, for all of our sakes, avoid the trappings of the seagull manager by trying the following techniques:
- Have the right attitude. Ask how you can help. What? How YOU can help? Yes sir! That is your job my friend. Helping your team is why you exist.
- Actively participate in a discussion. Listen and learn about what is going on and avoid swooping in and judging everything before you know the full story.
- Communicate with your team. Make sure they know what the plan is and find out what they think, how they can improve it and what obstacles they face. Find out about those small wins. Celebrate them with a positive word or a smile or a laugh. Why not? You will be happier for it. It will make you feel good too.
- Get away from your office or desk. Look up from your PC or your smartphone and go see your people. Politicians have been doing it for centuries. It’s the best way to get known and even build some rapport. It shows you care. Yes, there is work to be done. We get it. A big part of your job is to make your team productive and when they feel included they will worry much less about themselves and focus more on their work.
There are your inclusionary avoidance traps to get rid of that oh-so-nasty seagull management breed that we dislike so much.
Spontaneous involvement. Gone.
Let me leave you with this little tidbit.
“Most managers believe their focus should be about bringing in the numbers but most get fired because of poor people skills.”
Enjoy you team and celebrate them. Often.
- What can you do to help your team?
- Do you challenge your methods regularly?
- What can you do to become more approachable?