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Seagull Management

Seagull management is a term derived from the behavior of seagulls. Seagulls are known to flock only for a while, and then leave a mess behind. And that is what seagull managers do. This type of managers only appears when there is a problem, and then usually bluffs their way to a meeting, often heaping blame on someone else. And then they leave the mess behind for someone else to clean up.

Common Traits Among Seagull Managers

There are several identifying markers common to all seagull managers. Unfortunately, some of these traits are also found in good managers, so be careful and do not make hasty generalizations.

  • Seagull management is a way of managing people that is sorely lacking in leadership. The relationship here between manager and employee is purely transactional. As long as the work proceeds without a hitch, seagull managers are nowhere to be seen. But the moment a problem arises, they are there, putting the blame on someone else.

  • Another trait unique to seagull management is that when this kind of managers put the blame on someone else, there is no convincing them that they are wrong. These managers are always right, and all efforts to correct them will be in vain. It is usually difficult to speak with them because they prefer to do all the talking.

  • And since this type of manager is present only when there is a problem, any employee under them is hungry for the smallest bit of praise when work is done properly, or when the work yields great results. Positive effects of work are ignored by the seagull manager because everything is as it should be, and praises have no place in the workplace.

And that is how seagull managers roll. The analysis is that this type of manager knows how little they know about their job, and the only way to keep asserting their authority is by their positional superiority. This is why when there is a problem, the seagull manager will be there to impose a semblance of a solution, even if their solution is actually wrong because they know little about the job anyway. The other traits are simply the effects of wanting to assert their authority.

Understanding Why There Are Seagull Managers

Seagull managers abound simply because of poor training and preparation for management. Management is a skill, like any other. When a manager without these people skills are assigned to you, all they know about the job is the work, and not any interpersonal relationships at play.

Another reason seagull management has become more common recently is the changing trends in business. The corporate hierarchy has flattened in the recent years, due to economic constraints and the increasing need for a global presence in business. Because of these factors, more and more people have been promoted to managerial positions, which they have yet to deserve, as well as more and more previously higher-ranking managers being reassigned to positions with more direct contact to employees. Without the buffers in between the manager and employee, the friction made by having a seagull manager flourishes.

How to Be Certain You Have a Seagull Manager

The first sign of a seagull manager is that he or she is new in the position. It has been theorized that in the evolution of management, the seagull manager is the first protozoa. So the first qualification of seagull management is that the person has just been hired to fill that position.

The absences and appearances of managers may tell you that you have a seagull manager, but that is no assurance that you have one. It may actually be true that your manager is really busy, and too many tasks and responsibilities demand his or her time, leaving you very little opportunity to interact with your boss.

The definitive characteristic of a seagull manager is that the person in question knows almost nothing about the work you do. This can be easily checked by pointed questions about the job, under an innocent cloak of an employee seeking guidance on what to do and what not to do. Choose a task you are most familiar with, and then ask your manager for guidance. If you are able to wangle a satisfactory answer, you do not have a seagull manager, and you can treat him like you would any other boss.

However, should the case be that the answer is a form of evasion or simply not even intelligible, you have a problem at your hands.

How to Handle Seagull Managers

Like all solutions, it is actually the application of the solution that determines its effectiveness. This is also true in the case of handling a seagull manager, and since he is the boss, the situation should be handled with a lot of care.

Treating your boss as a non-persona does not fly as a solution. While it may solve any ill will you might have against your boss, you still have a seagull manager in your hands. In fact, the good work you do will only be credited to his good management skills, which he will be sure to claim.

Confronting your boss about his management style is also not an option. Since the desire of seagull managers is authority, you are opposing his claim to authority with the confrontation. No matter how you phrase the confrontation, it will always be in opposition to his authority.

If, however, you have maintained the problem you have with your seagull manager using these two solutions, the best solution for you is to either apply to the exact same position as your seagull manger in your own company or in a competitor company. If you can handle an unreliable boss, imagine what you can do with reliable people under you.

And that is the solution. Learn from the mistakes of your seagull manager, especially if you can do the job so much better than he ever could. If he can do it with the little skills that he has, you should be able to do it better.