My Secret Life on the McJob

Author: Jerry Newman
Publisher: McGraw-Hill
Length: 194 Pages

This fun, quick read offers a super sleuth inside look at Leadership and management practices in the fast food environment & culture drawn from Dr. Newman’s own personal experiences. His insights and perspective’s as a college instructor working for minimum wage in a variety of fast food establishments brings back my own personal high school memories. For me it was a 2-3 week stint at an A&W restaurant in the summer of 1973. For Newman it was a series of ethnographic case study secrets available today at Arby’s, McDonalds, Burger King, Krystal and Wendy’s fast food restaurants.

His research was conducted under a wide range of conditions but he did try to limit his research bias and was completely honest concerning his own limitations and challenges as a 50+ adult male ex-college instructor looking for employment in a typically younger trade. One critical point Newman made was that discrimination was non existent in these situation but jobs were assigned to those they were best suited to for optimizing the production and presentation of food…especially during the “Lunch Rush”!

The diary type narrative establishes descriptions for (4) four types of Managers:

1. The Toxic Manager – Uses sarcasms and disrespect to indicate when they are

2. The Mechanical Manager – Goes thru the motions but does not really want to be

3. The Relationship Manager – Builds relationships & demonstrates caring about
other individuals destiny’s.

4. The Performance Manager – Clarifies expectations & removes ambiguity about
individual performance.

A key point of this book lies in the author's clarification about embracing diversity – “it’s about recognizing, accommodating & gaining from individual differences in physical attributes and differences in viewpoint.” This insight translates directly into how “One size fits all” learning and training do not take into account the differences in individual styles for hearing, seeing or doing.

Anyone involved in leading or managing people, especially those working in the capacity of management of teams or groups can gain insights about creating the Social Web. This Web is based upon the creation and maintenance of social relationships whose glue is “Friendship”. Basic motivation is explored in a very positive way and the passive-aggressive nature of punishing employees for poor performance is described in management style clarity.

This McJob book also clarifies the importance of listening to others. There are many examples of process steps which were altered, changed or modified to optimize the performance desired which were ignored by management suggestions. The clarity that management domination of thinking forcing others ideas to be ignored has been explored in many examples.

The book focuses on what is critical to all restraint performance – the Lunch Rush – which if never witnessed is a snapshot into what it must be like to work in an ER during a repeatable emergency on a daily basis. Roles are shifted to optimize the team, communication changes to only what is essential at the moment and the controlled chaos is waited out until if disappears as quickly as it started.

McJob will help anyone in establishing a palette of tasty leadership and teambuilding traits to use as reminders to better understand how to communicate, motivate and inspire people at any level. It makes me wonder what secrets my mailman or newspaper delivery boy may know that I don’t!


Published In: February 2007, In2In Thinking Network