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Seagull managers: How to regain control of your team


Seagull managers allow situations to spiral out of control before swooping in with superficial or thoughtless solutions and flying off again, leaving the team to clear up the mess.

It’s a management style that causes stress and confusion – and it’s on the increase. Here’s how to regain control by focusing on what should be your number-one priority: your people.


Global competition forces firms to flatten hierarchies and streamline management teams, leaving leaders to achieve more with less. Writing for Forbes, Travis Bradberry explains that under these circumstances, even the best of us can become seagull managers.

When you’re already run off your feet and a difficult situation arises, it’s all too easy to rush in with little knowledge of the issue, to act the hero or to collect evidence of accountability for a future post mortem.

But according to Bradberry, “no one influences an employee’s morale and productivity more than his or her supervisor”. And there’s a direct correlation between the prevalence of the seagull management approach and the number of people who say they actively want to leave their jobs.

Seagull management frustrates colleagues and can lead to a catastrophic dip in their performance levels and job satisfaction.


Conquering the seagull’s bad management habits is critical to leading a productive and satisfied team.

Bradberry highlights three techniques that successful managers employ to avoid exhibiting bird-brained behaviours:

1) Transparent expectations. Staff who understand what is being asked of them and how to achieve it will need less direction further down the line and are more likely to succeed. Be clear about your expectations and set well-defined goals from the outset.

2) Regular communication. Don’t confine yourself to dealing with problems. Constant dialogue enables the free flow of ideas and discussion that’s so vital to getting the job done and maintaining good team morale. Always be available and approachable to your team. Effective communication is timely, factual and, ideally, face-to-face.

3) Constructive feedback. Pay close attention to individual team members’ performance so you can provide useful, tailored and constructive feedback later on. Positive reinforcement is key to a healthy working relationship with your team. It also lends you more authority and respect in critical situations.


Maintaining a focus on the people in your company is imperative to achieving success; as a manager, you have the power to influence culture, behaviour and performance. Seagull management will only hold you back.

Eliminate seagull management behaviours and your staff will be happier, more efficient and more productive.

Source Article: Are You A Seagull Manager?
Author(s): Travis Bradberry
Publisher: Forbes