So there I was-  just putting the finishing touches on a new process masterpiece!  I had worked on it for weeks.  I had been given a directive to fix a problem with one of our processes.  (I could go into detail, but it does not matter as my story is really a conglomeration many different times when I have worked to develop a new product or process. )

I was debriefing my boss on the progress of the initiative.  She had no involvement in my planning up to this point despite the multiple emails I sent her detailing our progress.  I had asked for meetings about our status and she replied, “I trust you are getting it done.”  No Meeting….

It was time to begin execution of the process changes.  I began to walk her through the last steps.  We were 2 days out from executing my plan.  That is when I heard the ‘Seagull Call’.

In Ann Rowley’s book, Leadership Therapy: Inside the Mind of Microsoft, she discusses the Seagull Call.  Microsoft management referred to an event where Sr. management would come in at the last minute and swoop down over their project and crap all over it.  Much like a seagull at the beach.  Wow….  I love this analogy.

The call was loud and swift.  I had been pooped on.  My project was ripped apart at the last minute.  I managed to fight off most of the changes, but the damage was done.  I felt like a child and thought my work was lacking in some way.  My project was changed and did not have the impact I had intended it too.

Triumph the Insult Comic Dog

This is a Great Idea.... For Me to POOP ON!

This was not the last time I would be pooped on.   It was not the only time I had been involved in a pooping, either.  I have been guilty of letting a project run too far without my guidance and then jumping in at the last minute to ‘fix’ it.  I have done this out of poor planning on my part and trusting a team member to read my mind.

As a leader, it is our job to provide guidance.  We should be setting goals and giving feedback to our team members regularly.  Our team will only grow if we allow them to execute all the way to the end.  When a project is changed, dumped or micro-managed at the last minute; there is a strong possibility it is the manager’s fault and not the employee’s fault.

When allowing an employee to develop a process, product or project, managers need to:

  • Provide structured guidance and feedback along the way
  • Set clear goals and desired outcomes
  • Create boundaries from the jump
  • Allow your employee to struggle-  difficulty is just as important as success
  • Do NOT come by at the last minute to ‘fix’ the project

By setting your people up from the beginning for success, you eliminate the possibility of having to poop on their ideas at the last minute.

Comments are closed.