You don’t always know, what you don’t know

Today’s post is based on the competence/incompetence model, generally attributed to Abraham Maslow. I like to explore models from time to time as over the years I have found them to be a useful way of starting a coaching conversation. In the face of a particular situation/problem the right model can help someone to make sense of their situation and explore ways to move forward with it.

Careerresilence You dont always know

So let me start with an example from my direct experience as a manager, going back some years now:

“Janice we don’t always know what you are thinking when we have to tell you about a problem.”

This is a piece of feedback I received from a member of staff, which took me completely by surprise, as the individual went onto explain that they found it difficult to approach me and felt apprehensive when having to present a potential problem or issue.

It simply had not occurred to me that this was an issue for my staff. In my head whenever I had an issue to deal with I went straight to internal problem solving, my preferred method of operating as an introvert. I tended to work it all out internally before responding, so from the outside you would be faced with silence and frowning as I worked through the different options without really sharing my process with the member of staff.

So clearly before this piece of feedback I was at stage one of the Unconscious incompetence model blissfully unaware of my incompetence in this particular area.

However having thought about it and made the decision to do something about it, I would then move round to stage two, Conscious incompetence. I am now aware of the ‘issue’ and can choose to address it either through coaching, training or some other form of professional/personal development.

I could choose to review and monitor my own behaviour and use my new awareness to respond to my team members in a different way. After some effort and work, I would then move round to stage three, Conscious competence. At this stage I would be a bit ‘clunky and awkward with my new approach and new skills, but with continued awareness and practice I would hopefully at some point move around to the final stage, Unconscious competence. At this stage there would be a flow and grace to my application of the learnt behaviours and skills, I would have internalised them to such an extent that they would be applied without me having to think about it.

To be honest I am not entirely certain I reached stage four with regard to this particular issue, but I do know I certainly moved forward with it.

Janice Taylor

About careerresilience

Career Coach and Writer at Blue Sky Career Consulting. I love to write and am currently juggling three different blogs. On a mission to discover how people can thrive and flourish in life and work.
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