The oriole and the window

Every spring, Baltimore orioles migrate through this area.Photo of a Baltimore Oriole on a hand-blown hummingbird feeder (taken through a window screen)

Usually they land on the hummingbird feeder, as you can see in the photo. (Taken through a window-screen, so slightly fuzzy.)

For some reason, last Friday there was a very – and I do mean very – determined female oriole who was absolutely certain that if she just tried hard enough, she could come into the house.

She was pecking at the bay window in the dining room. Over . and . over for over . an . hour.

Drove the cat crazy.

Drove me crazy.

I tried pulling the shade down. That helped, but only because the clack-clack-clack sounds were now muffled.

I tried cracking the window open. (Hot outside. Air conditioner on. Ugh.) Nope, she just blatted herself against the screen.

I tried opening the door and going out to wave my arms wildly and scare her off.

Nope. Back again. Clack-clack-clack.

I finally tried turning on the bright light over the dining-room table. That worked.

What has this got to do with my usual topics of leadership and support for first-line managers?

Well. I may be reaching a wee bit, but that oriole reminded me of how first-line managers so often just keep banging their heads against their new responsibilities (so very different from being an individual team member). And how they tend to keep doing the same things over . and . over, even when those things aren’t working.

And my actions? Well, I kept trying things to make the oriole go away, but I wasn’t changing anything about why she was doing what she was doing. Looking at the window from outside, with the mid-morning light the way it was, I could absolutely see why she was trying to fly into the house: the reflections of trees and sunlight on the window made it look a lot like there was something there that a bird would want to fly into.

It wasn’t until I – forgive me, now I’m really stretching my story to the limit! – turned on the light and changed what she could see that she finally went away. (The cat went to sleep in his basket on my desk.)

We look at our fledgling first-line managers and wonder, from our perspective of knowing what they should do, why they’re not doing it. Why are they continuing to micro-manage, communicate so poorly, fail to delegate, and blunder on strategic thinking – and all the other things we’ve seen fledgling managers do?

Well, because the only things they can see are the things they’ve always done, and possibly the things a few other fledgling managers have done.

And so we have managers who develop bad habits, struggle to lead effectively, and either give up, blow up, or somehow grow up enough to get promoted. At which point, because of said bad habits, we hire executive coaches to help them.

When we could have just turned on the light to show them that what they thought they were seeing wasn’t actually there. And then helped them learn how to be the manager and leader they want to be, and their teams and companies deserve.

Which means everyone’s more successful, right from the start.

Teaching leadership skills to fledgling managers doesn’t have to be expensive, time-consuming, or “just up to them” to learn. Stop letting them bang their heads against the window! Click here to learn more.