In my book, How Dare You Manage? Seven Principles to Close the CEO Skill Gap, I talk about Cormorant Management and its pitfalls.
What is “cormorant management”? We’ve all experienced it: it occurs when managers of managers dive down and interfere with the sacred manager-direct report relationship. For example, let’s say a vice president strolls through a call centre and notices that the plants need watering. He or she will then task one of the customer representatives, who would be otherwise answering client calls, to take care of the plants.
This action, however well-intended, is wrong. How can a manager be held to account for the output of their employees when a manager, several times removed, swoops in and changes priorities?
The idea of accountability is to delegate work by defining the end state and then allowing employees the necessary space and authority to get it done without interference.
If you think that cormorant management occurs only in the workplace, think again! In the recent federal throne speech, our present government has indicated it will take action against raising cable costs; the Ontario provincial government is occupying itself with school nutrition programs; and the mayor of Toronto is in a lather over a parks and recreation employee who was allegedly caught napping at his desk.
Cormorant management is misdirected. Instead of devoting themselves to the work they were employed to do, senior managers take the easy way out and waste their time and efforts in doing someone else’s job.
Don’t let this happen in your workplace. Creating an accountability culture means that everyone is clear on the work they are expected to do, the authorities they have to get it done, and who their manager is.