You Might Be a Seagull Manager If…
Jeff Foxworthy has enjoyed tremendous success in the comedy industry. One of his many popular bits is, “You Might Be a Redneck If…” series. He exclaims on his web’s front page, “You might be a redneck if…the stock market crashes and it doesn’t affect you one bit.” He has also said, “If you have a complete set of salad bowls and they all say Cool Whip on the side, you might be a redneck.” The bit goes on and on, each joke funnier than the other. His definition of a Redneck is, “a glorious absence of sophistication.” I’ll let him be the judge when it comes to classifying these folks. Where I will begin to judge is when this definition starts to fit our managerial styles.
I had just starting managing a new group of sales reps in Central Florida. I was eager to get going and put together plans that would help them and our company succeed beyond our wildest dreams. I can remember the day I first visited them all in Tampa. Seems like it was yesterday. It was, in fact, almost fifteen years ago. As I was wrapping up my inaugural visit and finalizing our to-do lists, one of my new senior reps asks me, “You’re not going to be one of those Seagull Managers, are you?” I was taken aback. At the time, I was, what I thought, a hot shot new manager that knew just about everything that needed to be known about managing people. This was a new saying for me. I had to ask what he meant. “You’re not just going to fly in here, #%@! everywhere and leave, are you?” he said very seriously. My answer was short and on point, “That’s not my style.” Fairly proud of my insecure answer, I finished our two day meeting and flew back to New York.
While landing at LaGuardia Airport, eager to get home knowing my family had a big weekend planned, I had this rush of anxiety. What did my rep really mean, a Seagull Manager? Was it a joke, a warning or a premonition. I had to know more. I called him as soon as I got off the plane. He explained in greater depth along with some very detailed examples of many failed managers. Then it hit me, this management thing is going to be a little bit more difficult than I thought. What I quickly realized, I had a glorious absence of “managerial” sophistication. This didn’t make me a Redneck. It made me a potential “Seagull Manager”.
You might be a Seagull Manager… If you don’t Know Your People. This encompasses more than just the pleasantries and skill sets. It goes beyond knowing their spouse, their children, where they went to school or even where they grew up. This is deeper. It’s more about the why behind their being. We need to know the way and why they act, their behaviors and their motivations. How do they take in the world? Do they see it, hear it or feel it? If I’ve lost you and you’re a manager in any shape or form, quit today. Go do something else. You’ll be happier. If you’re still here, there’s a ton to know and work to do. On top of this, you better know the same about yourself. How can you ever begin to think about managing people if you don’t know these things about you? It can be daunting without help or a proven process. What’s your process?
You might be a Seagull Manager… If you don’t have Individual Growth Plans. SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) is overplayed in these threads and probably old thinking. Well, I don’t care. It’s a great process and something that should be done for every facet of your business including your people. We need to know who our top performers are and get them resources. We need to know who our steady’s are and get them the proper motivation. We need to identify those that need additional training to help them along their way. Finally and while it’s a tough subject, we need to know who no longer fits with our goals and aspirations. The Tail must be trimmed. If this is done properly, it’s typically a mutual decision. How can a business succeed if it does not have a measurable Individual Growth Plan for each of its people? Let me know, I’m dying to learn the secret.
You might be a Seagull Manager… If you don’t have a System of Accountability. I will admit accountability makes me uncomfortable. Not the system, the word. It connotes a sense of immaturity and something a Juvenile Court Magistrate might say to a young offender at sentencing. It needs to be something else, like Ways of Achieving or Action Plans to Success. Make it an Achievement Plan. I know it’s just semantics, but we live in a crazy new marketing world that’s all about massaging the messaging. Our people would benefit from this deliberate, thought out approach. Have you ever tried to have your top sales people fill out a new accountability sheet. How’d that go? As always, if you cannot figure out what’s in it for them, you’ll be speaking on deaf ears. It really doesn’t matter if you’re using a fancy CRM Tool, an Excel Spreadsheet or a piece of paper. If you’re not measuring what’s important to your business and getting 99% buy in from your people on the plan, you’re failing.
You might be a Seagull Manager… If you are not Present. This may sound ominous and even a little too vague. I’ll make it simple. This is the part where you have to give a #%@! You need to truly care about your people. This doesn’t mean you have to be best friends. It does mean you have to value them as human beings and realize the true gift they are to you and your organization. We need to spend scheduled, committed time with our folks. This time is custom to each person based on the “Individual Growth Plan”. We need to be available when they need us most. We need to know that our goals and success depends on these people. This goes beyond performance. Performance really shouldn’t have an impact here. We should be present for all equally. We’re all humans with a proven, documented hierarchy of needs. Let the Individual Growth Plans and Achievement Plans help lead the way on performance. If you see your folks as tools or a means to an end and not as human beings, you should be ashamed of yourself.
Just like with any craft, skill or behavior, they’re all pretty much learned. Being a Great Manager is no different. This has to be a learned skill, based on a replicable system. I sometimes wish we were born this way. But then again, if this were so, I’d be out of a job. If you think you might be a Seagull Manager, it’s never too late to change. If you work for one, either send them this link or connect with us to vent. Trust me, they have no idea they’re doing it wrong.
As always, Make It Make SenseTM
Great supporting read: The Platinum Rule, by Ron Finklestein
Comment or email me to continue the dialog: firstname.lastname@example.org
Posted by: Todd Shannon – The Business Growth Experience