How to Manage/Identify a Unique Workplace Species: The Chicken Hawk Boss

The Chicken Hawk

Dads who have lives outside of work, which is every father, bring a unique perspective to the office. Unlike those who are single, recently engaged or divorced without kids, every second outside of sleep is filled with household duties, changing diapers, roughhousing or entertaining toddlers and a spouse.

A father’s perspective is broader and when we cross paths with unique office coworkers it can be extremely entertaining. When that person is your boss, it can have a negative impact unless you know how to identify the species with whom you are dealing.

One of the more unique ones in the workplace jungle is known as the Chicken Hawk. His plumage (attire) is always in vogue and he makes great efforts to espouse a larger than life presence. However, when he is viewed through an independent prism, it’s only his words that carry the day, not his charisma, mannerisms and certainly not his physical presence.

For the dad who has to report into a manager who is a Chicken Hawk, the first step is identifying said species. Here’s how:

  • Height / Weight / Color / Gender: Average height but not vertically challenged, he’s usually a ‘skinny fat’ person and consumes a variety of vegetables and lean meats. Thus, he can spend more hours working and less time in the gym. These creatures come in all colors and are fashionable to a fault: his gender is obvious but irrelevant. Chicken Hawks can be either male or female.
  • Corporate Pecking Order: He represents an entitled and entrenched figure who has not been promoted into the executive ranks. He won’t be anytime soon because everyone in more senior roles knows he is best suited to work in middle management. Chicken Hawks can indeed fly but not much higher than the tree line.
  • Use of Language: They are extremely careful with their choice of words and they never curse. They have survived in their position by offending no one, which they know full well would prompt their termination.
  • Answers are Optional: He won’t answer a question clearly when he knows he won’t like the response he provides. He’ll spin things around, change the subject and place the person asking the question on the defensive. “I’m not sure your question is relevant, what is more relevant is how you appear to be coming in under budget this quarter.”
  • Forwarding Email: Whenever an executive issues an email with direction, the Chicken Hawk immediately responds to reemphasize the points made in the initial email. This happens within 30 minutes to ensure he’s clearly associated with higher authorities (it makes himself feel bigger).
  • Super-Sized Storytelling: The Chicken Hawk’s storytelling will add flair, adjectives and seem to hold gravitas, but the frame in which they are presented are bigger than the described image. It will appear like a paint-by-numbers portrait, well drawn but the picture frame that the image is presented within is six times larger than the picture itself. When one leaves a meeting and the employee boils the words down into next steps, it’s just another task that is presented in an overinflated manner.

The Chicken Hawk’s words and mannerisms imply the employee whom he is dealing with will always respect him, but he’s not as charismatic as he or she thinks they are. Unfortunately, his friends and family have not shared this fact with the Chicken Hawk because the person in question usually does most of the talking and rarely listens.

Here’s How to Deal:

There are two things a dad can do to manage the situation. First, stand up for yourself and if necessary be louder and more outspoken than the Chicken Hawk. If he’s ranting about something that fails and is outside your control, but you’re being held accountable, you have to come over the top. Don’t stop speaking and lay out your case at a heightened voice to ensure you’re heard. This is a chicken-hawk like response to the Chicken Hawk but it works; they respond on a more equal basis when they engage with someone who’s acting like him/herself.

The second thing to do, outside of standing up for yourself, is put everything in writing. Emails and the written word represent a paper trail and if you are forced to hold the Chicken Hawk accountable, email is a great way to do it. It’s hard for him to ignore because he knows if he messed up it will come back to bite him on the ass.

The upside to all this is these kinds of corporate birds rarely bite, sting or scream. It’s better than the alternative office worker I mentioned in a previous post: a boss with a Napoleonic complex, which you can read here.

On a parting note, I’ll leave you with highlights from the cult-classic, Office Space, a must watch for any dad who needs a good laugh.

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