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How to Tell if You're a Seagull Manager

Posted by Kate Seat on 7/8/16 8:09 AM
Topics: retail management

If you find yourself frequently reacting to situations in your store in panic mode, you might have a seagull manager tendency. The good news is that while most of us may have our moments occasionally, it's rare for anyone to only operate in that mode — and it's easy to kick the seagull habit and learn to work more proactively with your employees.

Travis Bradberry points out how to tell where your management style falls (and what to do about it) in this excerpt from Inc.:

Retail management and employee morale

Seagull managers only interact with their employees when there's a fire to put out. Even then, they move in and out so hastily--and put so little thought into their approach--that they make bad situations worse by frustrating and alienating those who need them the most.

Here are some hard truths we have to face every day at work:

  • Employees whose manager often uses seagull-type behaviors are 30% more likely to develop coronary heart disease than employees of a manager who rarely uses these behaviors.
  • More than 2/3 of North Americans are actively considering leaving their current job, with their employers suffering annual losses in excess of $360 billion from this employee dissatisfaction.

Some facts remind us that it's not easy being the one in charge:

  • Just 21% of people would be willing to take their boss' job.
  • When asked where they are supposed to focus, managers overwhelmingly say, "Bringing in the numbers" yet they are most often fired for poor people skills.

But the real question is not are you a seagull manager, but when are you a seagull manager? It would be wonderfully simple--albeit frightening--if we could each be categorized as the "right" or "wrong" kind of manager. It's just not that black and white.

The Virtues of Superior Managers

Clear expectations. Managers who set clear expectations ensure that employee efforts are spent doing the right things the right way. This means thoroughly exploring what will be required of the employee, how their performance will be evaluated in the future, and getting agreement and commitment to work towards established goals. There is a big difference between telling someone what's expected of them and making sure that what they'll be doing is completely understood.

Consistent communication. Consistent communication requires diligently observing what employees say and do, and speaking openly with them about their work. A manager's interaction with his or her employees delivers the resources, guidance, and recognition they need to succeed.

Powerful feedback. You can only provide powerful feedback when you pay careful attention to each employee's performance, while offering praise as frequently and emphatically as you do constructive feedback.

— Travis Bradberry, Inc.
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