It’s harder than ever to avoid becoming a “seagull manager” these days. That’s when you fly in, make a lot of noise, dump on everyone, and then fly away again. It’s a hit-and-run management behavior that’s easy to fall into when you find yourself with too much on your plate and too little time to accomplish it.
How are you doing with the double challenge of accomplishing your own work while still managing the work performance of others? If you’re afraid you’re seeing a little seagull behavior in yourself lately, here are three ways to get back on track with a more helpful approach:
- Make sure you know what your people are working on. Manager’s shouldn’t be surprised at what their people are working on but this often happens because goals are unclear, or are not in alignment with overall department objectives. Make sure that everyone in your group has a clear set of 3-5 objectives and that they are mapped to a specific organizational objective.
- Identify everyone’s development level for their specific tasks. A good group of goals will include tasks that are familiar and routine to an employee plus one or two stretch goals that will require some growth on their part. Review each of your direct report’s goals. Which tasks can they easily accomplish on their own—and which tasks will they need help with? Their development level on each task will determine the proper amount of input you’ll need to provide.
- Schedule regular meeting time. A weekly check-in for 20-30 minutes can do wonders for putting out all of the small daily brush fires that occur before they turn into raging infernos. A little bit of structured time to review how your people are doing in each of their key areas is a great way to get started. Don’t turn this into a weekly evaluation though. Let the employee guide the conversation. The idea here is to create a safe space for employee’s to ask for help when needed.
Even when people work together in the same building, it is still surprising to see how little conversation can occur between managers and their direct reports. With today’s increased workload, it is often easier to keep your head down and your door closed. Don’t let that happen to you and your people. Schedule some time to meet with your direct reports on a regular basis. It can save a lot of screeching and wing-flapping later on.