The surfers

Hahahahahahahaha …it’s not laughter therapy but just thinking of the number of times I was fooled by the “surfers” makes me laugh. No I don’t mean the real “surfers” who use a surfboard and ride the waves – those guys are doing what they love, are having fun and are sportspeople. I am talking of the “surfers” at work. The ones who escape every task, every rap, every accountability, just skim the surface and manage to have long careers and even grow to senior roles. Unfortunately most organizations use tenure as a surrogate for competency and fitment for the role. That’s how a “surfer” gets to the top.

Think of someone in your team or peer group or support teams whom you just can pin down, they just squirm or slither out of situations. Let’s say they are responsible for a project, nothing has got done on it and you suddenly ask for a status update. There would be an awesome presentation on how every component of the project is dependent on someone else and how those people have just not got their piece done. Hahahahahaha, sorry folks, I am not able to stop laughing, because I have received many of these presentations and maybe went with it sometimes. Usually I smell the surfer from a distance but not always.

Staying on the same project, if the “surfer” had a specific task assigned to him or her and obviously didn’t deliver on it, he or she would immediately find a stakeholder they could deflect the blame on. Let’s say the “surfer” is in operations, they will find someone in sales to blame, if the “surfer” is in sales, they will find someone in the product team to blame and so on. If the “surfer” doesn’t find a specific stakeholder to blame they will blame the culture, weather, language, anything and everything except themselves :).

Not to say the corporate “surfers” have no capability, they are very good in their domain but just don’t want to put in the hardwork. In certain cases they have low capability and don’t want to work hard either but these kind of “surfers” are caught out sooner.

The other kind of “surfer” is the type that takes credit for work done by somebody else, many times it’s their own team member. The “surfer” doesn’t work hard, just puts his or her name on the work done by the team member. This comes out in the open when you move the “doer” out of the team … The “surfer”‘s results will suddenly dip, lower sales, lower KPIs, complaints etc and the classic “surfer” will immediately start apportioning the blame. Blame the culture, product, mother, father, uncle …anyone or anything :).

I have also seen that “surfers” are usually sycophants and have a sweet demeanour, they say nice things to your face and many managers fall for it. Hahahahaha I love watching the “surfers” ride the waves, that is a skill I don’t have, I would either stand my ground or try and swim or “do” something, I don’t know how to surf and skim the surface. I find it amusing when am watching these folks on other teams, as I don’t encourage these folks on my team. I like people who have an opinion and preferably a different one from mine, I like people who work hard, and jump from the fence on any issue, the surfers and fence sitters usually join hands and walk out of my team :):). Have had some over the years, and missed spotting them, but usually the “surfers” struggle with me and my team.

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