Last night on the plane, I read Travis Bradberry, Ph.D.'s book, "Squawk! How To Stop Making Noise and Start Getting Results." A reader of this blog was kind enough to send me her extra copy of the book a couple of weeks ago (thanks, Ashley), and I dropped it in my bag. This was a quick read, and a quaint way of dealing with a serious management topic.
You may have heard about seagull managers before - the legend goes that they fly in, dump undesirable stuff on you, then fly away and leave you with a mess. You may have had a seagull manager -- or maybe you are one. In either case, you'll probably enjoy this book and might learn a few things.
The book is presented as a fable about Charlie, a seagull who is managing his flock but encounters a mutiny when they begin to go hungry. They blame Charlie for miserable situation and plan to leave a month later, right after their new chicks are born. That means Charlie has 30 days to convince them he can change for the better and convince them to stay.
What follows is a series of coaching sessions from other animals (I mentioned it was quaint, didn't I?) to teach him 3 foundational lessons:
- Set full fledged expectations. Make sure the employee's efforts are spent doing the right things the right way. Let them know what is expected and how they will be evaluated in the future. Be sure to get agreement and commitment to work toward established goals.
- Establish Communication that clicks. Too often managers do not communicate enough and only communicate when things go wrong. Observe what employees say and do and speak openly with them about their work. Communication clicks when it is frequent and in a langauge everyone understands.
- Keep your Paws on Performance. Pay attention to each employee's performance - offer praise as often as constructive feedback.
The essence of these lessons ring true to me, and they reminded me of some of the great lessons I picked up from Rosa Say's book, "Managing with Aloha!." In particular, this approach fit well with the "Daily Five Minutes" model Rosa evangelizes, and brings about methods that can help you really connect with your employees and interact in a way that meets them where they are (in terms of needs, maturity, etc.) and helps you connect with them at a more meaningful level.
I recommend this book for managers who feel they need to take on lots of tasks because their team is "not ready," for managers who think they may be a bit seagull-like in their management style, and particularly for new managers.