Holding the glass statue up to my mouth I let out a hot breath. With my shirt sleeve I rubbed away the condensation leaving the glass shinier than before. Setting it back down on the desk I beamed at the statue.
It was a glass hummingbird, roughly six inches high. There was an engraved plaque on the wooden base it was set on. “The Hummingbird Award” it said in bold letters. Below that, in smaller letters, it said “For your skill in always showing up when things are bad.”
My mood was so high even the shambling entrance of my personal gorilla could do nothing to lower it. “Look at this, Hogarth!” I held up the statue for him to see. “What do you think of that.”
Hogarth looked at the statue for a moment then let out a long, sad sigh. “Wow, I’m so sorry. I thought we’d been making progress.”
“What?” I set the statue back down, careful not to get fingerprints on it. “What’s to be sorry about? My team gave me this award, isn’t it great?”
Hogarth settled into a chair and gave me a long puzzled look.
“What?!?” I said.
Hogarth sighed, again. This was getting repetitive. “I thought you knew about the Hummingbird award.” He shook his head. “I’m really sorry. Look I can help you get your resume cleaned up.”
“What on earth are you talking about!” I snapped.
Leaning forward he clasped his massive hands together on the desk. “What does a hummingbird do all day?”
I shrugged “It flies around from place to place quickly and it eats.” I looked down at my body, “I’m not exactly a candidate for weight loss if you hadn’t noticed. They didn’t give this to me because I eat all the time.”
Another sigh. What was with his sighs? “Maybe it would help if you knew the real name of the prize is the ‘Pigeon Manager’ award.”
“Why on earth would they call it that? Pigeon’s aren’t exactly fast and they don’t even fly all that often. You have to shoo them to get them to move.”
Hogarth nodded. “What else?”
I rolled my eyes. I hated when he played this game. “Okay, they don’t fly much. They aren’t fast and I darn well wouldn’t want to be a statue with them around. They poop on everything.”
Hogarth nodded. “Uh huh…”
“Wait a minute!” I stared at the award. “If I’m the pigeon, then that makes the team the statue?”
Hogarth just nodded. Even he couldn’t bring himself to kick me when I was this far down.
SUPPORT THE TEAM, DON’T BURDEN THE TEAM
Trust me, even if it were really the hummingbird award, you don’t want to win it.
Sure hummingbirds are cute. They dart around the sky here and there. They hover by a sweet flower and suck up the nectar and, whoosh, they’re off to another place in the blink of an eye. Thing is, that’s not exactly the makings of a good manager.
The hummingbird manager rarely stays focused on any one thing long enough to make a lasting change. Like some hyper-caffeinated cheerleader, they rush around from place to place with uplifting words and a big smile. And in their wake is a team that wishes they would have stayed long enough to find out what was really going on and done something to help. Sure you look busy, what matters though is does your team see value in what you are doing?
And do I really need to explain why you don’t want to be the pigeon manager?
The hummingbird manager is at least has a nice smile and is trying to cheer people up. The pigeon manager swoops in, poops all over what you’re doing and then swoops off the minute things get hot. “You’re doing it wrong!” “Well tell us how to do it right.” “I don’t have time for that, just fix it.” Like the caped anti-hero they swoop in to ruin your day and rush off before you can say “thanks for nothing.”
Being a good manager is about putting yourself second and the team first. Do they have what they need? Is there something you can specifically do for them? Are you just getting in the way and what they really need if for you to leave them alone?
It takes time to be a good manager. You have to build relationships (like with Manager Tools “One on Ones” or Internal Customer Interviews). Building relationships builds trust. Building that trust means they will come to you when there is a problem. It also means they know you will help them when they need it, not criticize them, or give empty words of encouragement.
Management is about building relationships, not about being everywhere at once. Especially if you leave droppings behind.
So don’t be a bird brain.