Managers wanted: Must possess self-awareness, be coachable and able to coach others

By Jim Whitt

I stopped at a fast food place the other day which had an interesting message on its marquee: “Managers Wanted.” Not help wanted but managers wanted.

I went inside and discovered just how desperately they needed managers. I stood at the counter waiting while two employees were busy serving customers at the drive-through window. The only other employee I saw was the manager on duty who was wandering around talking on his cell phone. He nearly bumped into me but completely ignored me. No “hello,” no “I’ll be right with you,” no nod of the head, no nothing.

I slowly walked to the door thinking I might bait him into acknowledging my presence. Nothing. I grabbed the door handle and turned toward him, giving him a third chance. Nothing. I walked outside, got into my truck and watched him through the windshield. He was still wandering around talking on his phone.

I have seen a lot of managers exhibit the same behavior as the guy in the fast food restaurant. Doing what they think they should be doing but oblivious to what they really should be doing. They need to change their behavior but are clueless about their need to change. “What is necessary to change a person is to change his awareness of himself,” said Abraham Maslow.

If you lack self-awareness you can’t change. Why should you? As far as you’re concerned you’re doing everything right. Bryan McMurry wrote about this in the last issue of my eletter: “A lack of self-awareness often manifests itself in denial of the behavior or a rationalization of it. The best coaches possess a high level of self-awareness; those lacking self-awareness are generally marginal coaches and are often virtually uncoachable themselves.”

How in the world can someone coach others when they can’t be coached themselves? Managers who lack self-awareness are dysfunctional leaders. The result is a dysfunctional culture which leads to poorer performance, lower productivity and higher turnover. If you’ve worked in a dysfunctional culture, you know it is an energy draining experience.

Instead of “Managers Wanted” I’d change the message on the marquee to read: “Managers wanted: Must possess self-awareness, be coachable and able to coach others.” I wonder if the manager on the phone would even notice.

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