Is there a difference between a manager and a manager, which people should not be appointed to the position of a manager, how Western managers differ from Russian—speaking ones - on these and other topics, the editors of App2Top talked with Evgeny Sudak, author of the course "Ethical Management".

Alexander Semenov, App2Top: Zhenya, hello! Today we will talk about management. Let's start with the base: who is a manager and what should we understand by the word "management"?

Evgeny Sudak

Evgeny Sudak: Hello! In my understanding, a manager is a person who coordinates the efforts of others. This is its primary and most important function.

Among other functions for which it may be responsible are the following:

  • setting and holding the vector;
  • provision and maintenance of processes;
  • functional management, etc.

However, the root difference between a manager and a specialist is precisely the coordination of efforts to achieve a result.

Accordingly, management is a discipline dedicated to how a team can achieve a common goal.

I started with the terms, because it seems to me that not everyone understands what management is. Because of this, prejudices are born. I myself have repeatedly encountered a position in the spirit of "They recruited effective managers to the factory who do not understand anything and only take away salaries from honest hard workers." Have you met with a similar assessment? How should I work with her?

Evgeny: Of course, I have met. Like all prejudices, it is caused primarily by the peculiarities of our psyche. When something collides, the nature of which we do not understand, there is a reduction, simplification of this phenomenon to an understandable one.

This is not necessarily a bad thing. It is, in general, designed to save resources. But it must be kept in mind when building communication.

In the situation you described, the task of the head is to explain to the hard workers in understandable language why they need this effective manager.

A little more about terminology. Against the background of anecdotes that have arisen among the older generation that an ordinary cleaner has become a "cleaning manager", can we put an equal between the concepts of "management" and "management" so that such confusion does not arise?

Evgeny: Personnel management is a relatively understandable process for the layman, we often observe this.

It seems to me that a misunderstanding arises at the moment when we introduce the concept of "functional management".

I'll try to explain with an example.

If our specialist just comes and cleans at the appointed time, he is a cleaner.

But let's imagine that he:

  • I did the preparatory work (I found out when there are the least people in the office, so as not to interfere, clarified the data on allergies among the staff for choosing detergents, tracked the points where more garbage accumulates and installed larger baskets in them);
  • I found a counterparty with cheaper tools;
  • I took up cleaning, taking into account all the knowledge I had gained.

In this case, he is already a functional manager.

The fact is that within his area of responsibility, he not only performs the tasks assigned, but is also responsible for the development of this area as a whole.

Doesn't that contradict your definition of a manager? After all, our cleaning manager does not coordinate the efforts of others. He did the research, took everything into account and went to work. Doesn't any competent specialist interested in development do the same?

Evgeny: Of course it does not contradict. After all, this is only one of the tasks. Yes, the main one, but in its absence it is quite possible to limit yourself to secondary ones.

Can a team consist of one person? I think so. And in case of expansion of the team, it is our cleaning manager who will be responsible for maintaining the standard. Just like a startup's service station lays down certain standards of work, architecture, even at a time when he is, in fact, the only programmer in the team.

Conducting research is just one part. The second is to change the existing procedure and take responsibility for these changes.

Well, about "any competent specialist" — I can hear recruiters and hiring managers crying in this place. Because this (data not from research, but from experience) is typical for about 30% of "seniors" at best, and about 7-10% of "juniors". Most people want to get instructions from us, preferably step-by-step and linear, and just follow it.

Listen, where do managers come from anyway?

Evgeny: The answer "from everywhere" will be absolutely correct, but at the same time completely uninformative.

Therefore, I will try to look at it from the other side: they are taken from the vision of problems of coordination of efforts and the desire to solve these problems.

What type of personnel make the best managers? Are there any criteria by which you can immediately evaluate and understand that such and such a person will be an excellent leader? And if so, what are these criteria?

Evgeny: There are no criteria by which you can understand whether a person will be an excellent manager. An excellent leader is 20% basic data and 80% daily work. And there is no guarantee that it will be done.

Yes, the initial 20% can be estimated in principle. And here I would look at who from the team is happy to help others, comes to the rescue not only within the framework of direct duties.

You can come to any team and ask everyone personally "who will you go to for help from your department, in the absence of a supervisor?". As a rule, most will point to one or two people.

So a good manager is someone who is always ready to help everyone?

Evgeny: A good manager is one who, through his active participation, reduces the stress of subordinates, superiors, and business. Ideally, for everyone, but this happens infrequently. Therefore, I believe that reducing stress in two out of three aspects is already a good option, and then you can learn.

Is it possible then to formulate a management philosophy as help and stress reduction?

EUGENE: This is already a simplification. Moreover, as we figured out a couple of minutes ago, management and management are still worth spreading at the conceptual level.

I would formulate that the main philosophy of management is to make difficult decisions in conditions of lack of information, and eliminate obstacles, both external and internal.

All right, then let's go back from management to management. Who should not be appointed managers in any case? What kind of people/specialists are they?

EUGENE: This is a very important question. But I've never been a holivar-avoiding person, so to hell with it.

In no case should people who seek power for the sake of power be appointed managers. If a person revels in his power in small things, then most likely this will not change when the scale changes.

Managers are, as a rule, former line employees. But there is a downside to this phenomenon. I am sure that there is a common story when a specialist becomes a manager not at the behest of his heart, but because this was the only opportunity for growth (including salary). Is this a problem and how solvable is it?

EUGENE: This story is really very common. And, unfortunately, not all companies can afford to deal with it in various ways — parallel careers, grades, promotions within the specialization, etc.

Nevertheless, this problem can be solved, but it requires the understanding and political will of the company's management.

A continuation of the previous question, but this time I will ask it from a slightly different angle. I have come across the practice of "awarding positions". This is a situation where the appointment to the position of the head is a recognition of previous achievements. What do you think about it?

Evgeny: As in all other cases, when I come across a similar situation, I ask myself the question "To what?".

What are we promoting a person for? Does the business need it? Does the company need this? Is it necessary for the person himself? Is there a task for this person in a new position? Does he have a tendency to solve these problems in principle?

If the answer to at least one of the questions is "no", then I would recommend considering other motivation options. A position is not a reward. This is a new responsibility. Despite the fact that I sincerely believe that "The reward for a job well done is the opportunity to work more" (C).

There is another funny practice — "distribution of posts". It usually concerns very small companies with low salaries. The owner tries to compensate for the latter with sonorous and verbally responsible positions. Do you think that such a practice harms the industry and, in fact, the employees themselves, who, in fact, performing linear tasks, are called directors for something?

Evgeny: This often happens in startups.

Yes, yes. There are three employees in the company: CEO, CTO and CMO.

EUGENE:Exactly. But it is important to understand that the issue here is not about salary, but about the level of responsibility.

If a person is personally responsible for the entire marketing of a company, then he is the marketing director, regardless of whether he has a hundred subordinates or none.

It's another matter when it's exactly what a good position is on paper. But here a logical question arises: how can an external observer separate one from the other? How to distinguish a cofounder from a sinecure?

Unfortunately, only by personal contact. And if you are personally convinced of the professionalism of a person, then it does not matter at all what his position is called on paper.

We have discussed the basic concepts with you, as well as the main problems. It's time to discuss your topic. The one by which you are well known in the industry. Let's talk about "ethical management". What's it?

Evgeny: If I were calling it now, I would probably stop at the term "ethics-aware management". On the other hand, it is even more difficult to perceive as a concept.

For me, ethical management is an alternative point of view on the management process.

A huge number of techniques have been developed that prioritize efficiency. At the same time, ethics is very often not something that is deliberately ignored, but rather simply not taken into account.

From this paradigm, mechanistic managers often grow up, perceiving subordinates (and themselves, of course) as purely functional details.

The consequences of this approach are usually sad. My approach is designed to expose people to the ethical side of management. At the very least, this will allow us to make more informed decisions.

I know that in the context of "ethical management" you often say that it is important for managers, quote, "not to be assholes." What's wrong with assholes? Many business icons were and are not the most pleasant people. And this, it seems, does not prevent them from building corporations.

Evgeny: Frequent misunderstandings of my words.

In the context of ethical management, I say that it is important to be aware of what our actions are likely to be perceived as asshole. This does not mean that you need to sit on your hands and do nothing. Sometimes you have to make difficult decisions. Therefore, literally in the first lesson of my course, I talk about an important construct called "I am an asshole".

As for business icons, we cannot know whether their corporations were built because of or in spite of their behavior. Moreover, there are enough examples of equally successful managers who are not assholes.

Again, from the point of view of Kant's categorical imperative, there are no questions about ethical management. Great practice. However, the pyramids were built with the help of a whip. What does ethical management give, apart from moral restrictions, to those who use it?

Evgeny: Speaking from a purely applied point of view, it gives an understanding of social mechanics that can be used to reduce stress, to improve the quality of life in the workplace.

Unlike the pyramids, which were built in the era of slavery by physical labor, we have a different era and a completely different type of work. It would be nice to keep this in mind.

Another important point is the transfer of the task from existential to engineering. If you don't understand ethos as a phenomenon in principle, then it will be a black box for you.

Understanding nature makes it possible to influence him, to realize the limits of this influence. That is, it turns the task from "find something, I don't know what" into "to achieve the result, we need to perform the following actions."

Wait, but you said yourself that ethical management is a departure from the mechanistic approach. Now you are talking about a transfer from the existential plane to the engineering one.

Evgeny: When I say "mechanistic approach", I mean first of all the attitude towards oneself and subordinates from a functional point of view, putting aside all personal factors and qualities.

Literally: "My middle designer burned down, I went to the market, hired a new one, put it in the place of the burned one, we work as before, nothing has changed." Or worse: "The middle designer left me, I couldn't replace him, I talked to the departed one, persuaded him to return, and I expect everything to be as before."

It will not be the same as before, because the human collective is a dynamic machine of states without a reverse course. Therefore, the return of a person will be another turn forward, not a turn back.

When I talk about the transfer of a task from the existential plane to the engineering plane, it is, if we primitivize, the transfer of a task from the impossible to the possible.

Such a transition from Da Vinci to the Wright brothers. Where the former dreams of the fundamental possibility of flight, and the latter iteratively solve this problem (by understanding the processes occurring in the interaction of the wing plane and the airflow). So it is here.

Okay, let's say. But since we are still talking about the existential, then who needs an ethical manager more — the team or the manager himself?

Evgeny: First of all, of course, to the manager himself. I don't believe in altruism as the main driving force) Therefore, first put the mask on yourself, then on the child's team.

In general, you probably often encounter various objections about ethical management. What, in your opinion, are the most common? And how do you work with them?

Evgeny: It's probably worth dividing the objections about the approach and about the course, right?

Regarding the approach: the most common is "Who needs it?".

It is important to understand here: a person either sincerely does not understand, or wants to play rank games. You can explain to the first one, I don't want to play with the second one.

About the courses. The most important objection is: "what makes you think you know how to do it?".

And to this I reply: I do not know.

I do not know how to do it, my task is to show how it is possible, but at the same time: consolidate the experience of the group, bring it to a common denominator and show potentially missed growth points.

Whether to use them is up to the students themselves to decide.

And at the end, a few questions about the "actualochka". "There are no managers." This was the answer I received 16 years ago to the question "Where are the game hits?" from Yuri Miroshnikov, who at that time headed the 1C gaming division. A lot of time has passed. Have managers appeared since then?

Evgeny: Managers, of course, appeared.

Since then, a whole galaxy of managers has been published and is quite competitive from a managerial point of view, even in the global market. Yes, there are problems, yes, some of them are systemic in nature, many features make it difficult to communicate internationally. But there are a sufficient number of those who have overcome it.

Does the conditionally "Western" game management differ from the conditionally "Cypriot-Eastern European" one today?

Evgeny: The ones I've met are different, yes.

Western managers are calmer. They are growing in positions in the West more slowly. We have faced a large number of unpleasant situations in our lifetime.

Also, those Western managers with whom I had the opportunity to work took the disagreement of subordinates much more calmly, without translating it into a personal plane.

Another important difference is a higher level of self—presentation, a culture of discussion, and a better mental discipline developed through writing an essay.

You've just told me about the Westerners, but if we talk about the Russian-speaking ones? What are the most common problems among them?

Evgeny: You need to understand that I will answer based on the circle of those people who come to me for advice, so the picture may be distorted.

Main problems: missing or broken self-diagnosis mechanisms: 9 out of 10 notice burnout when it has already passed into a severe stage.

I would also like to highlight communication problems separately: some still think either with newspaper editorials or indictments, although there is a huge range of corrective tools.

And the last question: should managers be able to do everything with their hands that their employees can and do?

Evgeny: I would say that skill is a nice bonus, which quickly becomes an unacceptable luxury. In the sense that it is good if the lead can do what his subordinates do. But asking for a full range of skills from the head of a department of, say, 200 people is presumptuous to say the least. The manager must manage, coordinate, and direct. To do this, he must know what his subordinates are doing, but in my opinion, he does not need to be able to do it at all.