Squawk! book review

I just read a book titled “Squawk – How to stop making noise and start getting results” by Travis Bradberry, Ph.D.

It talks about the qualities of a true successful manager; I enjoyed reading it very much. The book was recommended to me by one of my blog readers, who was even generous enough to send it to me to read and comment on it.

I have to say the book is very well written and I liked very much the idea of presenting the point in the form of a story. The book is about a seagull who failed as the manager of his flock to keep them fed all the time. The story goes on to show us how he solved his problems by learning the three main qualities of a good manager from a turtle, a dolphin, a dog and an otter.

Why did the author choose a seagull in particular to be the hero in his story? Because, I believe, the expression seagull manager is used to describe the manager who does not interact well with his employees. The manager who only shows up when there is a problem and takes hasty decisions and orders people around without really understanding what is going on, then he leaves his employees to deal with the big problems he created and clear up his mess behind him.

The three main qualities of a good manager – or as stated in the book “The three virtues of a superior manager” are:

  1. Creating full-fledged expectations.
  2. Using a communication style that clicks.
  3. Paws on Performance.

Creating full-fledged expectations means that you have to make your employees fully understand what is requested out of them. You should not only tell them what to do but coach them and watch them closely and show them practically what needs to be done. You have to make sure that they understand crystal clear what is expected out of them and what is the expected performance and how will they be evaluated.

Using a communication style that clicks means that you have to choose a method of communicating closely with your team to make sure that they respond to you. You have to stay in touch and resolve any issues and obstacles that might come up. You have to act as a coach and a mentor and not only as a boss.

Paws on performance means you have to acknowledge good work on due time. You have to penalize and reward instantly when it is the right time to do so.

(The three images above are scanned from the book)

As the image above shows, you have to acknowledge good work and balance yourself so as to avoid being a seagull manager and avoid micromanagement at the same time.

In the following lines I will list some quotations from the book. These are lines from the book that I liked very much because they are really the bottom line. If any manager reads those lines only, he should be able to understand what he needs to do to get his job done the right way:

“You see, that’s your problem. You can’t manage anyone, or anything really with vague goals. Telling your flock to go find food and eat it and then waiting to see if they do it isn’t managing at all”

“Your job title is manager. Your sole purpose is to help them perform”

“the herd responds to me because they know I’m not going to nip at their heels or chase them around aimlessly; they know I’m there to help them get back on track.”

I see this book as a must read for every manager whether newly posted or has been for some time. If you really want to increase your productivity and achieve your goals, read this book. It explains in a very simple manner what needs to be done.

I want to conclude by saying that from my experience I saw two types of managers: the ones who love to micro-manage and the seagull manager. Micromanagement suffocates employees and kills their skills. When you micromanage you are actually creating a flock of followers, who cannot think or act without getting back to you. This of course ends up in a disaster for any company. On the other end is the seagull manager, who pretends to be very busy all the time and rushes into taking decisions and setting rules without understanding. This style of management creates big problems and in many cases causes high turn-over rates because employees cannot last long in such an environment. If you really want to excel as a manager you have to avoid these two management styles and follow the recipe in the book above.

One very important thing to do also is to support employee development. Bad managers are always afraid of their employees’ improvement and development. This is because they are insecure and do not have self confidence. They are afraid if their employees develop, they would become a threat to them.

Good Managers should be leaders and coaches, they should create leaders. If you have a flock of followers, know that you have failed.

The open-book revolution!

I read an interesting article that talks about “the open-book revolution”.  It is a style of management that says that if you want to compete and grow, you have to be open with all your employees, do not hide any business details from them and let them feel that they are part of the wheel.  It is a way of management that says employees have to be involved in the figures to be able to suggest and adopt ways of cutting costs and solving problems. 

I personally like the idea of making everyone responsible.  The old fashion way of “I am the boss” does not work anymore.  When you as an employee feel that you are a decision maker and that you take responsibilities higher than your title, you become energized and you innovate.  You will not imagine the number of ideas and ways of tackling problems that could come up from this way of managing people.

the quotation below from the article summarizes it all:


“chain-of-command style of management is out; today’s boss is supposed to walk around, involve the troops, and encourage participation. Gone, too, is the notion that employees are no more than tiny cogs in a machine. Workers are now supposed to take on big responsibilities — to solve problems, cut costs, and reduce defects. The language of business reflects the new ideas. Trendy companies don’t have employees, they have associates. They don’t have managers, they have coaches.”

Is there a risk involved?

Yes, there is! when all employees (even juniors) know all the business details (including the details of your books) they could use it against you, especially if it goes to your competitors. But when we really think it over, anyone who has the bad intention will be able to harm your business anyway.  Even if you do not tell him yourself, he will figure out a way to sneak in and get the information he needs to use it against you.

So, I believe that the new open-book revolution is the right way to manage.  I like the part where they say that companies no longer have managers, they have “coaches”…..this is the best way I think to generate effective output; to be a coach not just a manager.

There are still some managers who micro-manage.  The image on the left demonstrates what happens when people do that, you just create stupid followers!!

You need to trust your staff, delegate intelligently and give them the full authority and you will see the vast benefits that you will reap.