What to do if your leader is a seagull-manager

I think most of those who read the title of the article immediately thought: “Don’t just work with an asshole, and that’s all business.” But what if you can’t or don’t want to quit, at least right now, and your nerves are not state-owned, can something be done? A similar problem can arise for any person in employment – both for an ordinary specialist and for a top manager.

To begin with, let’s define the term “seagull-management”. Seagull management is a style of management in which the manager, having suddenly “blown in”, raises a lot of noise, and then just as suddenly “flies away”, leaving behind a complete mess that others must deal with. Simply put, if we remove value judgments and emotions, then seagull management is when the manager regularly interferes in the progress of work on the tasks set by him earlier. Seagull management is often confused with micromanagement. Micromanagement is the setting of simple short tasks that turns employees into biorobots. The method is well suited to work with low-skilled and low-motivated personnel, as well as in critical situations that require quick solutions. That is, micromanagement assumes that the leader delegates authority, albeit to a very limited extent, in contrast to seagull management, which is a vivid example of a violation of the principles of delegation.

Why would a leader act like this? There are cultural and historical reasons for this. If you believe Akunin And Prokhorov, then after the Tatar-Mongolian yoke, an authoritarian system of one-man command spread in Russia, as opposed to the European principles of vassalage: “the vassal of my vassal is not my vassal”, which formed the basis of local self-government, and then grew into the rules of delegation in the office. But we are not interested in all the leaders in Russia at once, but in a specific Ivan Ivanovich, who may be a smart man, read smart books on management, but still deals with such garbage.

The main reason to engage in seagull management is the lack of trust in subordinates. If the leader does not trust his subordinates, he will not delegate. He “has to” not just monitor, but constantly intervene in the progress of the tasks being performed, since without him they cannot be completed (from his point of view). The task of the subordinate between such adjustments is to do as he was shown. Thus, for example, the task of delivering a project on time with a certain budget is replaced by the task of being like a leader, acting as his shadow. Even if the result is not achieved, but you showed that you were a good shadow, well done. This puts any responsible employee in front of an insoluble dilemma: to be a professional and solve business problems, or to be a good subordinate and not spoil relations with management. The resulting dissonance creates a neurosis in the subordinate, which is commonly called “burnout”.

So, our task is to gain the trust of the leader. People trust what they understand, therefore, you need to become more transparent, more understandable for him. On the contrary, the boss can interpret the lack of transparency in the work of a subordinate as irresponsibility (what is he doing there ?! again, hey, he’s doing garbage), and seagull management for him is a kind of way to keep the situation under control.

The simplest solution to the problem is to pre-plan your work. Planning allows you to demonstrate the train of thought, and therefore contributes to the growth of the boss’s confidence. The fact is that the seagull-manager criticizes the work when it is already in progress, and he already knows and sees what was unknown and not visible before the start of work. No matter how you are from the past against the boss from the present – this is a one-sided game, whether he does it on purpose or not, but the position of the “seagull” is always winning in such an absentee dispute. Therefore, pre-planning with subsequent approval of the plan is a good idea to reduce the opportunity for the boss to come in already at the time of the task and say that everything is not being done this way (we decided in advance that I would act this way).

“Ivan Ivanovich, I understood the task, I plan to do this and that.” If you don’t know how to do it yet, take time to think. Making a plan for a big task is also a task, it also takes time.

The second thing that you can try to influence is the control points: the seagull-manager arrives at any arbitrary moment, interfering with work, not realizing that he is breaking both his own and other people’s plans for the day. By itself, random, selective control is neither good nor bad, it is one of the management methods. But the “seagull” only uses it. Try implicitly to impose regular control for yourself. “Ivan Ivanovich, this is how I plan to act, the first intermediate result will be ready on Friday. I myself I will come to you and show it so that we can make adjustments to the plan.” If Ivan Ivanovich insists that you need to show something not on Friday, but on Wednesday, ok, agree, but decide what exactly you will show on Wednesday, do not agree to what you definitely cannot show, do not subscribe to the impossible. If Ivan Ivanovich, out of old habit, comes on Tuesday with the question “well, what?”, You can justifiably dryly answer that everything is going according to plan and you will come for control on Wednesday, as you planned before. I think it would be superfluous to say that this promise must be fulfilled, in fact, this is why we refused to take on impossible promises, so we were engaged in preliminary planning of our work.

A typical task of a seagull manager sounds something like this: the children want milk, go milk the cow. And it is not clear, but if it is possible to solve the problem “children want milk” without a cow at all, but by going to the store? And if the cow is old and her milking does not allow watering the children or there is not enough milk for everyone, what should be done? So the third thing to think about is: what exactly are you taking responsibility for?

Any good task describes either what should happen as a result, or how to achieve the result. But one thing. A bad task is a task that says both what and how at the same time. If the manager himself does not fully know what should be in the end, he tries to fill in the gaps with advice on how to do it. If the manager paints a plan to achieve the goal, but the knowledge of the details is not enough, he adds stories about what will happen in the end. In both cases, the task turns into a rebus.

If you have been given a task that immediately includes both the goal and the algorithm, then it is worth assuming that the point is not that your manager is unsuitable, but simply there was a misunderstanding, so you need to clarify. “Ivan Ivanovich, do I understand correctly that my goal is to give the children milk to drink? Ok, if so, I need time to explore options for where and how much milk can be obtained. I will also study the option using our cow. I undertake to do this no later than X. I will tell you about chosen by me way to get milk and why I chose that way.” Suppose he replies that the method is obvious, it is necessary to milk it and our cow. This means that the risk that the cow died, that there is not enough milk for everyone, remains with the boss, but your task is solely to correctly perform the milking procedure. However, this approach does not mean that from now on you do not care about the result. This means that the leader is responsible for the result, not you. “Ivan Ivanovich, I’ll start milking right now, if I understand that your the plan won’t work, there’s not enough milk for everyone, I’ll let you know right away.”

It’s a different story if your boss sets you a task that you don’t know how to do, or you don’t have the resources or expertise to do it. If you have set a task that you are not sure about, then being a professional, you are obliged to report about it. For a professional, achieving a result is a natural result, not luck. The boss wants to launch a rocket to Mars tomorrow. Perhaps he has erroneous ideas about your resources, knowledge. This should be reported right away.

Any subordinate, receiving a task, has the right to ask the question “how?”. Just say so: “Ivan Ivanovich, I don’t know How achieve the result you want. What I should do?”

Possible responses of the leader to this question:

  1. Answer the question How. You do this, then this and this. Everything is simple. Now the manager himself is responsible for the result, the algorithm is his. And the subordinate is responsible for the accuracy of the algorithm.

  2. Admit he doesn’t know either Howremove the task from the subordinate and find someone who knows.

  3. Recognize that the algorithm is really not obvious. Temporarily remove the task and give a research task, in which the subordinate must find / develop an algorithm and find out how.

  4. Surprised that the subordinate does not know How, because he believed that he appointed a person who knows. Admit your staffing error. Remove task. Give to another artist. Correct your staffing error.

The matter is that it is possible to delegate powers or resources. Responsibility cannot be transferred at all, the employee can only take it himself, the manager needs to make sure that this happened and take action if not. Therefore, if you are not ready to be responsible for completing the task formulated by the boss, do not take responsibility. Just say it to your boss that you are not ready to work on this task. It may sound harsh, but it is transparent and professional. To do this, of course, you need to have a certain level of inner freedom and understanding of your own goals. The ability to clearly separate the tasks for which you can be responsible from those for which you cannot is generally one of the most obvious signs of a professional who earns respect from any manager at the core, and therefore, at least in theory, allows you to break the frame “boss – the educator and subordinates are lazy children, ”which actually underlies seagull management.

I regularly write to the Telegram channel Toxic manager about management and everything connected with it. Come in.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *