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[flagged] One Question You Should Never Ask Your Boss (yegor256.com)
23 points by cnst on Jan 24, 2020 | hide | past | favorite | 27 comments

It's really good that we have people like this writing blog posts and getting notoriety for their views. That way, people might stand a chance of avoiding actually having to work with them.

Do you want to hear the kicker? His start up is a chatbot that he thinks replaces a project manager.

Are you allowed to ask the chatbot "what should I do next?"

> a chatbot that he thinks replaces a project manager.

That would be very welcome.

Since this article is as opinionated as it gets, I’ll throw out my own opinion: A good manager keeps his colleagues informed of the ultimate goal so they know what and why they are doing things. This way, during the tackling of smaller tasks, the team as a whole can make conscious progress to deliver what is expected. When requirements change, the manager should inform their team so that everyone is still aiming for the same goal. If a colleague is asking “what is our ultimate goal,” then it indicates that you could do a better job keeping your team informed. If a colleague asks “what should I do next,” then you look at the priorities and assignment them their next task(s).

If you deem your colleagues as “losers” for asking for direction, then consider that you’re not fit to lead them.

I think we can discount the article based on the unironic use of the word soldiers to describe colleagues.

I think we can discount it based on its content, written by the kind of manager who should be avoided like the plague.

What grade A bullshit. Proper Linkedin fodder.

This article presents it as very black and white, it's a question you have to ask but it is good to ask yourself what is next first before you ask someone else.

Yes, you probably shouldn’t be asking “what next” constantly, but it is important to validate you’re doing the right things. It depends how you ask it and the frequency.

In between decent blocks of work (epics, milestones, etc) I tend to ask my manager if priorities have changed since we last spoke and if he needs help with anything before I do the next feature.

This prevents me from wandering off and doing unneeded or less-needed work. That’s also true agile.

I agree, especially if the employee is new to the job. I don't want my recently graduated surgical nurse deciding what to do next.

It is literally the job of a manager to set priorities.

If workers set their own priorities then that manager is deadweight and should immediately be excised from the organisation.

Maybe not the point he was trying to make but if Yegor’s manager is reading this, you know what to do.

A subordinate that asks for something to do might be a "loser" who doesn't understand their job, but it's far more usual to be disoriented by inconsistent and shifting requests, to be burned out by micromanagers who punish personal initiatives, or simply to ignore news because one has been busy doing actual work.

Exactly, and even then this person is far better than someone who is actively avoiding work (it happens, perhaps more often in bigger companies) and never finishing anything. You could see this as a chance to help this person or as a signal that you yourself, the boss, has inadequately communicated the vision and mission of the work. I do avoid this question myself but I really don't blame people for asking. It can start a nice conversation: What would you do? It may just be that someone is brilliant but very insecure.

I don't like this piece. Typical advice from an extrovert with a big mouth. Try being helpful if you see a person lacking part of what is needed to do a job.

Hard agree, but not for the reasons listed. Instead, the reason to never ask your boss "what's next?" is because it shows your boss several things about your perspective which are not valued in employees.

First, it shows that you have capacity. Therefore, you need more to do. They may accuse you of sandbagging.

Second, it shows that you don't understand the plan. Since you don't understand the plan, you shouldn't be on a promotion or management track.

Third, it shows that you're eager to please. You can be counted on to pick up tough spare tasks that nobody really knows how to do; you'll put in the effort.

As many side replies note, there are plenty of better ways to communicate with your boss without leaving yourself open to exploitation.

Excuse me but what's the manager supposed to do again?

Definitely not managing.

>> A good soldier behaves differently. A good one wants to [blah blah]

The article and formulation smells of entitlement as bad cologne across the room.

You don't question your boss, you lowly peasant. Know your place.

I have a very Task Oriented Job, along with some projects that I manage. I end every daily check in with my boss the same way. "Here are my current priorities and tasks, Do you have anything else you would like me to do as well?". It works great for us, it shows him what I am prioritizing and gives him a chance to adjust those priorities as he sees fit. It keeps there from being any miscommunications or from having priorities.

So... When I finish my task I should just quietly sit there until the manager notices I'm not working and gives me something to do? This is just pure bullshit.

i think he rather means that you should pick a new task on your own, where - if you're "a good soldier" - you'd pick the most important task yourself.

that said, i, too, don't agree with this article at all.

In the jobs I've worked, determining the most important tasks was done at the start of sprints in collaboration with management. Sometimes priorities would change mid sprint. (Which shouldn't happen but that's another discussion.)

Starting a task that hadn't been explicitly prioritized would get anyone on the team in trouble. It's never been difficult to get new work approved (just ask) but it had to be approved.

This is the manager that wants your bathroom breaks scheduled while s/he's on the golf course or tennis court sucking up to the boss... No thanks.

Heh, I ask this question a lot.

Can you flag a post for being toxic?

Without a task management like Trello or Jira, we ask this question all the time. Bad article.

True... when I had to ask this question at a job, this meant things didn't go well. I was basically so bored that I had to go to my manager to figure out something useful to do. (Basically I ask my manager to do his job ;))

I don't think a Ticket tracker is needed to know what needs to be done next. Some people are really good at pointing out priorities and at the same time the boundaries of what I can do

Dictatorial leadership style at play? Brute-force laissez-faire? Or just stolidity?

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