Inspired Action For Imperfect Humans – S2 EP17: “Shitty Manager The Research”

Shitty Manager The Research

“Shitty Manager The Research” Brief Summary of Show: 

In this episode learn to take inspired action as we ask the questions, “What is a shitty leader? Why leaders struggle? And how do we take a shitty leader and turn them into an outstanding leader?” Hosts Kyle and Christopher tell stories about shitty leaders they have had in their previous careers, how early in their past careers they were shitty leaders, and give some tips as to what you can do to move from being a shitty leader to a leader that is going to be more strategic, and have engaged teams.

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“Shitty Manager The Research” Transcript:

Like five minutes before we started this podcast, you were a really shitty leader. Do you remember?

[Announcer] Is the thought of being imperfect keeping you from taking action? Welcome to Inspired Action for Imperfect Humans. Each week, we give you real life stories and though provoking research that inspires your soul to live a more fulfilled life, through your own actions. From the heart of Calgary, Canada, here are your hosts, award winning coaches Christopher Lawrence and Kyle Kalloo.

Well hello, hello. For those who are watching, you might have seen a little bit of a reaction on my face. Only because Zoom did some upgrade, and so they have this Siri-like, I kinda think it’s Siri’s cousin, who’s letting you know, giving you audio, that’s telling you this meeting’s being recorded. So I was a little bit taken by like, “Who’s that?” I thought someone else was in this meeting. I was looking around going, “Who is doing… ?”

It’s kind of obnoxious, though. It’s like some crappy…

It’s robotic.

You know, TeleServe/Rogers automated voice. “This meeting is being recorded.”

Let’s not blame those guys. For those who are listening, those are two of our biggest telecom companies in Canada. ‘Cause people are like, “Who? What? What?” Think of Verizon or whoever you guys use elsewhere. Listen, let’s get right into it, ’cause I want to talk a little bit today about some research that I’ve asked you, Christopher, to look into, around shitty managers. Like, what is happening?

I was hoping you would ask me about my jacket, first.

I was gonna get to that, actually. Can you wait for it? ‘Cause I was wondering why you have your jacket on, still. But I’m just gonna let these people know what they’re doing here.

My outdoor jacket.

Yeah. Well, just, your jacket. What?

Well, girl, because working with you, I have to run out of here at any minute, girl. I just need to keep one bag packed at the door at all times, just ’cause I don’t know what you’re gonna do or what you’re gonna say.

So you’re always ready, is that what you’re saying?

You know, what we’re talking about today? Listen, I’m gonna name this podcast, it’s called, “Shitty Manager The Research.” And if you want to see it full force, just come work with Kyle.


Girl, and when we get into these statistics… How come every time we have to have a conversation about something, you are so vague? He’s like, “Well, this is what I want.” He’s like, “Oh, I want to have like a questionnaire.” He’s like, “For what?” “Well I just want a questionnaire.” “Well for what, like what do you want “the respondents to do or say?”

I think you need to stop…

“I just want to show preparedness.” “Preparedness for what?” I’m like, “Red T-shirts?” He’s like, “It could be.” I’m like, “This is not useful.”

I think you need to stop poking me before these podcasts. That’s number one. ‘Cause every time there’s a podcast about to live, he finds a way to poke me. Right?

That is not true.

If you poke the bear, you’re gonna get bitten.

Oh girl, and watch the bear run into the lion’s mouth.

And again, I may not be as clear. Right? And I think when you’re coming in, armed with your jacket and boxing gloves, ready to fight. Right? Skin tight, ready to fight. Then that’s what happens, is usually there’s a fight. So, again, can you just tell us why you still have the jacket on? Is it because you were getting ready to run out, or is there another reason? ‘Cause it does look good, I’ll be honest with you.

Oh, thanks. No actually, it’s just cozy. I’m just enjoying the coziness of it.

Well, you should enjoy that coziness.

I need comfort, working in this office.

Shitty Manager The Research
Shitty Manager The Research: Leaders get too comfortable.

Interesting you talk about comfort. Because I think, at the end of the day, that is sometimes what happens to leaders. Right? They like to stay in their comfort zone. And today I want to share a story about when I first became a manager. I was 16 years old and, if you can imagine, right, a 16 year old manager? There’s something that’s sometimes wrong about that. But what that really means is that I had no clue about managing people. Back then, because I was told I was really good at what I was doing, then they felt I could be promoted. So I got promoted. No training. No mentoring. No direction. I was really good at what I did, so they figured I’m gonna be a good manager. How do you feel about that? Does that make sense?

Does what make sense?

That I get promoted at 16?

See, there’s that vague thing he’s doing. No, of course it doesn’t make sense. I mean, here’s the thing, though. Like, people do get promoted because they deliver results. They do.

In their role, yeah.

And I think that you, you are a results deliverer. And I also think you know how to walk the walk and talk the talk. Like, you do. ‘Cause there is a game to be played to move in management. And I think you do that, and you produce results.

Not having proper training, though. And I appreciate that, because yes, a lot of people, when they get promoted, it’s because they were very good at the role that they were in. However, we make the assumption that because they’re so good at their role, that they can train and teach and mentor and guide other people.

And lead others.

And sometimes that’s not the case. And so, because I didn’t have…

And here we are, 65 years later, and we’re still dealing with it.

Oh, man. I should talk to your team and find out what they think about you.

The funny thing is my team loves me. The problem is that I’m too kind.

However, what we find…

Like, “Oh, you need four weeks off? “Yeah, no problem. I’ll just do your job for you.”

What we find, is when people are without guidance, of creating that coaching culture, we have shitty managers. And I know you’ll be really surprised to hear this, for other people, I know Christopher isn’t, because he keeps calling me this, I was a shitty manager in the beginning. I was a really shitty manager in the beginning. Only because I wanted everyone to move at my pace. I wanted everyone to do what I did, and like Christopher just said, deliver. Deliver results. Why are other people having such a hard time with that? Why do they find an issue with it? Why can’t they just do what I did and produce results? However, that’s not always the case. And when I was acting in that way, in that capacity, I was a shitty manager. And here’s the thing, a lot of them won’t tell you. Right? A lot of your front line people won’t tell you. You’ll have some outliers, like Christopher Lawrence, who’ll have no problems telling you. But not everyone is doing that. Right? What’s at risk when you’re a shitty manager? What do you think, Christopher?

Yeah, so here’s the thing. We actually have some stats on this. They are from the US, again, which, you know, that’s not a bad thing. But I think that they would broadly apply in North America.

Of course.

 in America, three million Americans quit their job each month.
in America, three million Americans quit their job each month.

And maybe many first world nations. I’m not sure, though. I can’t speak to that. So this does come from the Labor Department Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey, from 2018. Okay, so in America, three million Americans quit their job each month.




And, of the three million that quit, 1.5 million of them quit their job, so half, quit their job because of their manager.


And greater than half think that managers are promoted prematurely.

That’s what they’re saying?

And 60% think that their managers need managerial training. To be honest, I think 60% is low.

Yeah. It’s probably higher.

I think it’s probably closer to 70 or 80%. And I’m just gonna put a little plug in here, we focus so much on the leader, but we don’t focus on what is the leadership training, or this concept “followership”, what is the followership training for the employees? Like how can employees better support their leaders and better hold them accountable. Right? Like, how can they do that? And I think that, if you’re not in leadership, and you’re attuned to leadership, there’s things that you miss. I spent a lot of my career doing that. Where it’s like, “Well why don’t they just do this?” I was thinking about this, this morning. I was thinking about how, like, when I worked at WestJet, it’s like, “Well, why don’t they just do this? “Like, why aren’t they doing this?” And it’s like, look, with the way my brain thinks, I could find an innovative way of solving any problem.


Leaders are so task saturated.
Leaders are so task saturated.

But the leadership is so saturated, like leadership is so task saturated, in most cases, not all cases, that they don’t have time to think about innovative solutions. They’re so busy doing the job rather than delegating the job. Which is part of the problem. And it’s like, so then we’re not actually checking in with like, “Okay, what do you see is the key problem? “And how can we fix it?” And then, of course, there’s the people interaction phase of it. But, now being in leadership, I understand that there are different considerations. That’s it’s like, well you can’t just do that. You can’t just give people more money. You can’t just promote people. You can’t just, you know. But I think there’s an over focus on weird societal things. Like, we give currency to titles.

Right, true.

Somebody’s job title has high currency, and it’s like… why? Like, we’ve hired people who left massive organizations as Directors that it’s just like, you’re functioning as a Coordinator. We’ve hired people who’ve done their job as a Coordinator and it’s like, “Do you want Kyle’s job? “Because you’re competent.” Like I think that there’s a huge mismatch here, in terms of how we do this. But it’s all societally driven, right?

Right, and it’s…

And there’s no accountability, sorry, when training is given. Like training is given. I look at my spouse’s organization, he works for a railroad. They provide phenomenal leadership training. My spouse uses it on me. He’s not even in leadership, but he had the opportunity. Well, he’s in leadership for his extracurriculars at work, he volunteers within the organization for a bunch of their charities and stuff. So he does a lot of leadership there. He uses their leadership skills in our relationship, in terms of communicating and this and that. They work really well, it’s super effective. But nobody holds the leadership accountable, in his organization, for that training. There’s no checks and balances. Sorry, girl, you got me on a soapbox, now.

Clearly. Clearly. I’m just like, you’re making my points for me. And so the question is, why do leaders struggle? Right? Let me just touch on two things you said, which I think was great.

I think accountability is huge part of it.

For sure. In the beginning, when you take a look at the first side of this, is the frontline. The frontline feel exactly the same way. Based on my experience, based on working with people, and you work with a lot of these front line folks, as well, is that they want that. They want accountability for these leaders. They want them to be trained. Like you saw some of the statistics that you just mentioned. They want to be trained. They should be trained. Right? They’re not trained, because they’re asking similar question that you did. “If they only did this. Why are they not doing this? “Why is it so complicated?” Because it seems as simple. Now there’s other things that goes into that, and I’ll talk about that in a second. So the frontline, we know, wants training for these leaders. Managers, leaders, we’re using that term, for this podcast, interchangeably. But again, it means different things, sometimes, for different people. But just think of managers/leaders, it doesn’t matter. The frontline wants you to be trained. Because they’re saying you’re not trained, they wish you were trained. Then you skip over to the senior leaders, who are saying similar to what you just mentioned, Christopher, is, “We have all this training. “We go through training programs with them. “We give them these things. We have those things.” And we’ve worked with them, that group, and we know they have phenomenal training. And so why are these managers/leaders not doing the things that have been trained? Again, they too want that accountability. Right? And so it comes back to that fundamental question is, “Why do leaders/managers struggle?” Leaders often excel at the individual contributor level. So think about that. Therefore, they get promoted in management position, leadership position, in short because they’re like what you said, Christopher, they’re doers of the necessary tasks. Right? Like I was when I was 16. However, once they get promoted, we find typically, they receive little guidance or accountability to the training for their new role. And all the time, their functionality is different then what they used to do. Which is what causes the issue. I’m gonna break this down a little bit deeper, ’cause I know listeners and people who are watching are wondering, “Okay, like get me to the nuts and bolts of this.” Think of it from this way. As a result of managers’ lack of guidance and training, they will focus too much on the wrong task. Which is in their comfort zone. That’s what they’re doing. Remember, we just moved them from being a doer to this new role with different functions, but yet without guidance and accountability in that direction, and mentorship. Creating what we like to call a “coaching culture”. They’re gonna go back to what they know, which is being a doer. And because it’s within their comfort zone. We need to get them out of their comfort zone. How do you feel about that?

You know, Kyle, I totally agree. I think it’s about getting out of their comfort zone. As you’re talking, I just keep remembering stories of like, you know, sometimes I had a leader who was a really delegator.


And that’s good. Leaders need to be delegators. And I think that there needs to be more openness and encouragement from the leaders to allowing their staff to share and collaborate on those tasks, too. It’s like, when somebody… There should be encouragement, and it’s like, “Oh go talk to these three people “and see what they say about it. “Inform them, really create a well rounded outcome.” I think there needs to be more encouragement from leaders to teach their staff how to work with them.


I'm really clear with my team members.
I’m really clear with my team members.

Like I’m really clear with my staff. I don’t like the word “staff”. We call them team members. I’m really clear with them about things like I’m gonna change my mind a lot. That’s my personality. And sometimes it’s gonna come after you’ve put work in. And so, first thing, I need you to know that. Second thing, I want you to get really good at asking better questions to minimize your re-work. Here’s five questions you can ask me with every project we’re working on. Or here’s a few things that you can ask me that you can build from, to see if we’re clear on it. And you’ll see me, ’cause I’ve got to think out loud.


I think in my head, but I’m verbal processor. I got to hear myself say something out loud to say, “No, that’s stupid.” Or, “No, that doesn’t make sense.” And then I walk away and think about it for three minutes and I’m like, “Well, if we did it this way…” You know? Or whatever. So I think leaders need to do a better job of having their people help work with them. And leaders need to do a better job of asking the question, “How do you need me to acknowledge you?”


Like how do you need me to, you know, there’s such an over focus on fucking minuscule bullshit. Like how much vacation time somebody gets. How much title somebody gets.

“And if I do it for you, I have to do it for other people.” Well then, do it for other people.

That’s it.

You know how I feel about that term.

Well then do it, like what’s the consequence? I think the bigger you are, the harder it is. Like if you’re in an organization that has a massive frontline, you know, you can’t be throwing around 15 different titles. It’s confusing to the consumer. Right? Like it’s confusing to your customers. But inside the walls of the organization, it’s just, you know, it’s like yes, you have to have standardization. Right? But where is there flexibility? Like, where does somebody get to have the say, so that they don’t become complacent, because they’re not just a cog. You know what I mean? I look at retail as an example of this. And it’s just like, I wish that retail workers had more flexibility to actually service the customer. Like I think there’s a huge lack of product knowledge in a lot of the places. Which is huge missed opportunity. I cannot tell you how many places I’ve walked in to for seasonal items because it’s, you know, spring, and I’m planting and stuff like this. And it’s like, “Oh, do you have landscaping fabric?” “Nope. No, we don’t.” And I’m like, “I know you have landscaping fabric!” And they didn’t even know what it was.

‘Cause it’s like, how could you not?

Yeah, and it’s like they didn’t even know what it was. And it’s like, if they knew and they said, “We’re out.” That’s totally different.

Yeah, yeah.

But they didn’t even know what it was. And I’m thinking, “I know you’re a seasonal worker, “but like, you guys are losing sales “left, right, and center.” And he’s like, “No I don’t think it’s this.” And he had to ask seven people, Kyle. And then, do you know where it was? It was right past the place that he had walked, seven times, to go talk to seven people. And then I kind of poked my head around the corner. And I was looking, right? I poked my head around the corner, and it was actually in an end display. It’s just it was very poorly merchandised with a whole bunch of, like, Tiki torches and stuff, so it was hard to see. So it was like, but where is that innovation? Like who’s focusing on this? Sorry, you get me on my soapbox, girl.

That’s okay. So I want to give you guys some tips, here. I want to give you some tips around what can you do to move from being a shitty leader, to getting to a leader that’s going to be more strategic, that people are gonna be ensuring that their team is engaged.

I’m glad you said it that way, because I think people need to recognize that we’re shitty leaders. I was a shitty leader when I first took leadership roles on. I was very, like, micro-manage-y. I want it done this way ’cause I’m A-type. And I didn’t listen well enough. I didn’t know how to hold people accountable. You’ve been a shitty leader, in your early years. And I think, even as leaders, I would call us experienced leaders, we still have shitty leader moments.

Of course. It will happen to all of us. Right?

Like five minutes before we started this podcast, you were a really shitty leader. Do you remember?

In other news… So here are the three things that you need to be able to do. Because I promise you, if you start at this, this can give you the most impact to making change. Influencing involving your leadership. Right? Moving from a shitty leader to a strategic leader. Right? So the first area, I would say, is focus on the manager/employee relationship. Which Christopher just clearly outlined. In today’s agile environment, and in virtual offices that we’ve been experiencing, employee relationships are a really critical component to this culture of the organization. So effectiveness of this group is really going to depend on how do you build your relationship with your employee. I’m not saying go out for bowling night. I’m not saying, ’cause that’s a whole ‘nother story. I’m saying, find a ways where you know your communication can be very effective. Employees want better relationship with their leader. So this is where you need to be able figure out, with them, how can you be effective in your relationship. The second area, I would say, is manager’s effectiveness in helping the employee be effective. Right? So again, how are you going to truly remove road blocks from the employees? Identify the road blocks for the employees so that way you can do what it takes to get them to be effective. ‘Cause that’s what you want, anyway. And trust me, the employee wants that, too. They want to be effective. But the leader needs to help them remove those road blocks. And the third part is inspire performance and build a team that goes the extra mile. This specific area is talking about the environment. As a leader, what environment are you creating? And is it conducive for them to be high performance? High performer in that role. So if you think of those three areas. Right? How you can do better with your manager/employee relationship. How you can make sure you remove road blocks for them so they can be more effective. And third, how are you inspiring that performance of your team member. Creating that environment that allows them to be great. Those are the three things, I would say. Christopher, did you have something you’d like to add to that?

Well, I think there’s responsibility here for the team member, too. Like if you have a shitty leader or manager, also remember that they’re just a human being trying to do their job, get their paycheck, and get through this thing we call life. They are having a human experience. They come with their own set of histories and traumas, and successes and failures. And I think, as an employee, as a team member, we need to do better at asking questions.


Like ask your leader, how do you like to receive feedback? If I see something that I don’t agree with, how do you want me to address it? Like, how would you like to be approached? Right? If I see an innovation, do you want to hear about it? By the way, folks, these are also the questions that, if you use them in your interviews, you are going to, one, stand out massively to the recruiting team.


And two, you’re going to have opportunities to learn whether or not it’s actually the best role for you. Right?

Absolutely. And it goes back to that number one, right? In that manager relationship, those are some of the questions, those are some of the interactions, that you’re gonna have.


So folks, what is your imperfect, inspired, action this week? If you were to look at your career, or your job, whatever you want to call it. To look at your career and your job, what is your inspired action this week, in terms of working with yourself, your team, or your leadership?

[Announcer] It’s our goal to build a global community of inspired action takers. And we can only do that with your help. So if you love inspired action, please leave a review on your favorite podcasting app. And share us on your socials. You’ve heard form us, now we want to hear from you. Go to and tell us, what is the inspired action you took this week? Next week on Inspired Action for Imperfect Humans:

That’s probably the worst thing you could do, is to treat everyone the same, who should be treated differently.

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