photo by Sheri Dixon

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Seagull Management

I'm a boss.

I haven't always been a boss- most of my life I've been an employee.

The last 8 years I've managed a clinic for 19 area Veterinarians- the same clinic I was an employee at for 7 years before I became the boss.

Becoming the boss is sort of like becoming a mom. When you hold that new baby in your arms, you think with white-hot conviction "I will not make the same stupid mistakes my own mother made- I will be the Perfect Mother".

By the time your child is 5 years old you hear your mother's words flying out of your own mouth and you look around in horror thinking "Where the hell did SHE come from???"

So when I became the boss, I thought "I will not make the same stupid mistakes all those bosses I have worked for made- I will be the Perfect Boss".

I made sure the clinic was fully stocked and updated.

I made sure there were cokes in the fridge and chocolate on the cabinet shelves.

I made sure there was name-brand shower gel in the bathrooms.

I fought long and hard to institute both performance bonuses and the ability to offer group health insurance.

I allowed the technicians the freedom to choose their own hours and schedules- thinking that since they were all, yanno, adults, that the clinic would be staffed and cared for by people who were cheerful and who wanted to be there- on accounta they chose when they would do so.

I was annoyed when the staff not only did not keep the clinic clean, but seemed to willfully tear it up.

I was dismayed when faced with disputes that made the back seat battles between my offspring siblings look like the ultimate in diplomacy. "He's not cleaning up after himself". "She keeps drinking my water". "HE'S BREATHING MY AIR".

Thoughts entered my head that were depressingly like what I'd heard OTHER bosses utter in frustration and anger.

"What's the matter with these people?"
"Don't they know how hard times are and how good they have it?"
"Employees just can't be trusted- you have to watch them every minute".

But here's the thing-

Those same employees have stepped forward time after time and taken on things that are clearly NOT in their job descriptions- just because I needed them to.

Those same employees have not cursed me because we're not giving out bonuses anymore (and no more will be forthcoming till the economy turns around), but have thanked me that when I needed to cut hours to save our budget I did it without firing anyone outright or canceling the health insurance.

They understand that while they can't say "You don't know how hard this job is" because I've done every icky part of it myself, they can be sure that I will be fighting for them and their rights, because I've done every icky part of it myself.

So while my bosses question the wisdom of my "hands-off management", I refuse to tighten the reins and become a "looking over the shoulder" boss- because that way does not lead to increased production, but to increased resentment.

I refuse to engage in the Seagull Management I've experienced all my working life- the boss who swoops in, makes a lot of noise, shits on everyone and flies out again.

I believe in my employees but am aware that at some point MY bosses may decide to "make an example of someone" since too many of them are of the school that nothing gets staff attention like firing someone and it'll be me saying

"Welcome to Walmart- would you like a buggy?"
"For 49 cents more you could Texas-size that".

And working for the Seagull Manager.


1 comment:

  1. Oh Sheri, you are always right on the mark! I so look forward to reading and visiting with you everyday :D