Wednesday, October 15, 2008

National Boss’s Day

I have no idea why I received this, but information is power, and maybe somebody can use this information:

When Patricia Bays Haroski registered "National Boss's Day" with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in 1958, she wasn’t playing a practical joke, or even sucking up. She was working as her father’s secretary in a State Farm Insurance office in Deerfield, Illinois. Haroski wanted to let her father know she appreciated his willingness to always go the extra mile and provide the attention and support his employees needed, even when a host of other priorities competed for his attention. Haroski chose her father’s birthday, October 16th, for the holiday because she believed a great boss should be celebrated with the same positive regard and enthusiasm typically reserved for his or her birthday.

Let’s hope the previous paragraph isn’t read by too many people at once, otherwise the collective roll of their eyes might tilt the earth off its axis. Most Americans just don’t have much to celebrate on National Boss’s Day. According to a recent study published in Human Resource Executive magazine, a third of US workers spend a minimum of twenty hours per month in the office complaining about their boss.

The Gallup Poll estimates US corporations lose 360 billion dollars annually due to lost productivity from employees who are dissatisfied with--you guessed it--their boss. And if there’s but one hard truth the Gallup Polls have taught US Corporations in the last decade, it’s that people may join companies, but they will leave bosses.

In the days of a strong dollar, bulging tech bubble and robust housing market, people working for a bad boss had options. Careers were mobile and talent was in short supply. It was a snap to pack up and leave. But nowadays, things are decidedly different. Jobs are scarce and workers are staying put, even those stuck under what I like to call “the seagull manager.”

Instead of taking the time to get the facts straight and work alongside their staff to realize a viable solution, seagull managers swoop in at the last minute, squawk at everybody, and deposit steaming piles of formulaic advice before abruptly taking off and leaving behind an even bigger mess than when they started. Seagulls interact with their employees only 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.

Today, seagull managers are breeding like wildfire. As companies flatten in response to the struggling economy, they are gutting management layers and leaving behind managers with more autonomy, greater responsibility, and more people to manage. That means they have less time and less accountability for managing people. It’s easy to spot a seagull manager when you’re on the receiving end of the airborne dumps, but the manager doing the swooping, squawking, and dumping is often unaware of the negative impact of his or her behavior.

If “seagull manager” doesn’t describe your boss, you are one of the lucky ones who actually have something to celebrate on National Boss’s Day. Of course, if you think you might have succumbed to some seagull behaviors in the last year, give the following five strategies a try, and you just might get a gift next year on National Boss’s Day:

1. Don’t Pass the Buck: When you set expectations for your staff, make sure you’re the one explaining what will be expected of them--don’t pass the buck to someone else.
2. Check In Everyday: Make your communication with your team frequent and sincere. You can’t help people get results if you don’t know how they’re doing.
3. Block Time to do Your Real Job: Schedule time in your calendar each day where you can be up and out of your desk, focusing solely on the needs of your team. Remember, as a manager, the primary purpose of your job is managing people.
4. Leave Your Door Open: Seagull managers lose touch partially because they’re not approachable.
5. Show Them the Way: When it comes to managing performance, balance praise with constructive criticism. Your team needs you to show them when they’re doing things right, as well as when they’re off track.

About the author:
Dr. Travis Bradberry is the president of think tank and consultancy TalentSmart. His new book, "Squawk! How to Stop Making Noise and Start Getting Results," addresses the problem of seagull managers in the workplace and is published by HarperCollins.

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At 3:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A boss can be your greatest confidant or your greatest pain in the ass. You just need to let him know which one he is and what he can do about it. Squawk! is a good place to start.

-Bruce Seigmor


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