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Written by Sara Stern



Recently, one of my clients started using EOS® after he bought a business from his dad. After the purchase was completed and the money deposited in the bank accounts, his dad left to retire in a warm climate. But it wasn’t long before he returned, figuratively flying in the window of the business, dumping on everything, then flying out again. My client called it “Seagull Management.”

Who’s In Charge?

His dad began to come into the office every day and:

  • Approach people on the team
  • Ask them to do things
  • Tell them they were doing things wrong
  • Wonder what they were thinking
  • Get mad
  • And leave

Many of the team members had worked for the dad for generations and were accustomed to taking direction from him. Even though they knew the son now owned the business, they felt it was disrespectful to not take the father’s direction. They were confused, getting pulled in multiple directions, and their loyalty was getting questioned.

At the same time, it caused a huge strain on the father/son relationship because both the son and the father were insulted. The father felt insulted because the direction of the business was changing. He also resented the fact that his son had spoken to him about the importance of talking with him directly, instead of approaching the employees. The dad felt he was helping the son and was insulted when the son said he needed to stop what he was doing. The son was equally insulted because he felt his dad didn’t trust him to run the business. He felt second-guessed and as though his dad was trying to take over.

This is a common issue for family businesses whether the business has been sold or gifted to the next generation or is still owned by the older generation. Employees need business owners to be clear about:

  • Who is leading the business /Who to take directions from
  • Where the business is headed
  • What’s a priority/what’s not
  • What success looks like

Without these things clarified, your team will be confused.

EOS Tools Bring Clarity

When the leadership team started using EOS, they created an Accountability Chart that made it clear to all members of their team who was leading the business. They also created a Vision/Traction Organizer™️ (V/TO) that defined where the business was going. Meanwhile, their scorecard helped the team define what success looks like week to week.

While the son (as the current owner) didn’t have to share these tools with the father (the previous owner), he still chose to. As a result, their relationship changed as the father became an advisor to him at a very high level. The father was able to share ideas, strengthen relationships with vendors, and see the thinking behind the changes his son was making.

By using EOS Tools to head off “Seagull Management,” you can help minimize the confusion, chaos, and frustration that comes with it.

Next Steps