seagulls fight over food

To better understand what something is, it can help to understand what it is not. This month we’re sharing ideas about effective management. For a point of reference, let’s define effective management as “any behavior, practice, relational interaction, or character quality by a person in an oversight role that positively affects an employee’s long-term workplace performance”. That is a broad set of factors. Thousands of articles, books, and blogs have already been written about them. A few TedTalks and podcasts too.

For now, let’s take a look at examples of what is not effective management.

  • “Seagull” management, according to Ken Blanchard, is when a supervisor only occasionally flies in, makes a lot of noise, takes what is not theirs, makes a mess, and flies out. There is no relationship. No personalized interest. And no specificity to the direction or feedback given. It’s not helpful; it’s annoying.
  • Micromanaging is a term used somewhat loosely, often by people who want to be left alone but should not be. When it does happen, it’s often because the manager either 1) Has genuine, ego-driven control issues, 2) Failed to provide adequate training or direction, 3) Is in over their heads elsewhere and needs something familiar and comfortable to do, 4) Has placed the wrong person in the wrong role doing the wrong work. True micro-managers often need help in self-management.
  • Empire-building is another ego-centric approach to overseeing the work and development of others. Whether it’s a localized “fiefdom” or an ulterior-motive scheme to slowly build a broader, deeper coalition for some “glorious purpose”, empire-building is not effective management because it lacks integrity. That which lacks integrity will ultimately fail.
  • Isolated focus by a manager is ineffective. When oversight lacks awareness of how a specific issue relates to existing systems, management efforts may cause more problems than they solve. Human organizations are complex at best and complicated at worst. Multiple factors interrelate through myriad systemic connections. There is rarely one single, simple, isolated cause or solution. Ineffective management ignores that reality and expects one declarative statement or action to set things back on course and stay there. Not likely.

It may not be as enjoyable or inspiring to look at only negative examples.

However, the positive side is—they can always serve as valuable lessons in what not to do! To that end, one proven, helpful exercise is to take the above information and make a list of real-life scenarios on the left side of a sheet of paper (physical or digital). Then, on the right side, list effective alternatives and reflect on how you will avoid one and lean into the other. This exercise is most fruitful if repeated and adapted over time.

For a jump-start in learning and applying long-lasting approaches to effective management, contact TurningWest – Your Guide to a Healthy Culture with Relevant Results. 

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