Last update, we narrowed in on the manager’s working relationship with others as the Good Basic of a workplace managed with ALOHA:
Managing: Let’s talk about the Basics.
The next morning I received an email with this question: “What’s the acid test for a manager, in knowing if you have a good relationship with your staff or not?”
I thought I’d answer it here on the blog as well, for I’m curious as to what the rest of you would say:
What’s your acid test for an optimal working relationship?
About the ‘acid test’ idiom:
From The Free Dictionary: “a test which will really prove the value, quality, or truth of something.”
The expression is thought to have its origin in the California Gold Rush, when nitric acid was used in a test for distinguishing real gold from other base metals.
A career in management and leadership can quite accurately be called a career of one acid test after another. In fact, the more you love managing, the more of these tests you welcome, knowing that they each leave a learner’s mark on you. Will you make it a mark of HO‘OHANOHANO distinction?
Mark me up!
For me, my truly noteworthy acid tests have occurred while assessing a combination of these two questions about my team:
- Will they tell me when something is wrong, no matter what it concerns?
- Will they ask me for help, even if it means exposing one of their weaknesses?
Those questions are about watching for hesitancy, reluctance, apprehension, and fear, and making sure that none of those things are present in my workplace. People must be willing to learn through their mistakes, and they must always feel safe in coming to me for help — for anything, really. I want to be their partner first, and boss second.
As a manager, I wonder about those questions constantly, mostly on a person to person basis, and also as I pace the working progression of teams (LŌKAHI), assessing their working relationships with each other. As the Alaka‘i Nalu would say, “Is the canoe moving at a fast clip or not? Where’s the stall?”
The ‘manager’s stall’ often requires looking in a mirror: What’s going on with me, or with my place, keeping my people at bay, anchored in their hesitation?
A healthy workplace culture is a voyager’s ocean of calm seas before the sailing wind. And in Managing with Aloha, CULTURE is simply a group of people who share common values, and operate within those values — there can be no hesitancy holding them back. No headwind (a wind blowing from directly in front, opposing forward motion.)
What’s your acid test?
How do you know when you have great working relationships?
What are the specifics that you watch for in the work that you manage?
What do you do with forethought, so reluctance and fear can be nipped in the bud, and people constantly feel safe and unrestricted in their work?
In Managing with Aloha, the Daily 5 Minutes helps us be proactive about grooming conversational working relationships in our ‘Ohana in Business (OIB is our business model, Key 6): The ease, frequency and reliability of the D5M conversation creates a Circle of Comfort hosted by managers open to listening, and hearing well: Speak up, I’m listening. It’s a Circle people know they can step into whenever they need to, and no matter what. People who are managed with the conversational ALOHA they can count on, are the people who do good work!
What do you do in your quest to be an Alaka‘i Manager?
How can we learn from you?
Footnote: About the Alaka‘i Nalu
In July of 2002, the Alaka‘i Nalu (watermen, and ocean guides) and Ho‘okele (navigators) of the Hualalai Resort became my ‘acid test’ for Managing with Aloha as a philosophy I felt ready to tell the rest of the world about. In the year to come, this team of 13 would play a starring role in the Ho‘ohana na ‘Imi ola (personal and professional mission statement) I then wrote for myself each year, from summer to summer.
When I first stepped into their world, the Alaka‘i Nalu and Ho‘okele were known as a dysfunctional team who’d sink managers reputations along with their own: Managing them, was the assignment no manager wanted to receive. What I also knew, however, was that our guests were often their raving fans; they loved all of their interactions with them. I gave myself that management assignment out of a growing curiosity, but I had to be the person they would invite in at some point — a point where a billowing wind would fill our sails and propel us forward.
Page 44 of Managing with Aloha, on ‘IMI OLA, and the writing of your personal mission statement:
“…I had written down my mission to help the Alaka‘i Nalu of Hualalai reinvent their reputation, for I believed in them and what they were capable of achieving. The Alaka‘i Nalu are incredibly talented watermen; they welcome guests to enjoy the bounty offered by the ocean environment, offering lessons and tours in canoe paddling, sailing, surfing, fishing and swimming. They had shared their passions with me, and as their manager I was bound and determined to help guide them from passion to mission to performance. I felt they had a story that was still to be lived to its fullest potential, a story that would prove to be worthy of the retelling for the benefit of so many others. Today they embody some of my proudest achievements, yet they have also become my teachers.”
Little did I know what a crucible of change that year would turn out to be — for all of us. My Ho‘ohana na ‘Imi ola for Say Leadership Coaching was written in July of 2003, exactly one year later.
When the people you manage place their trust in you, willing to sail uncharted waters, it’s a gift of ultimate ALOHA and Lokomaika‘i generosity, for it’s the key to what a manager’s life can become. As I wrote in my book’s MAHALO:
“The names that must be recognized here for the ultimate in their generosity, as I have told of in their stories, are those of my Alaka‘i Nalu and Ho‘okele. Aaron, Daniel, Ed, Ekolu, Ikaika, Janelle, Jerome, Lily, Mahea, Matt, Puaita, Rick, and Sam, you have my Aloha and you will be my ‘Ohana —always. You willingly became my living laboratory for Managing with Aloha and gave me your complete trust, and this book could not have been written without all you had taught me, and without your faith in me. You brought me to Pono, and I love you.”
More of the Alaka‘i Nalu story is told in the pages of Managing with Aloha, my book, along with the mission statement they wrote for themselves to chart a new course. It was exhilarating. An acid test like the one they gave me that year, is one I would gladly take over and over again, choppy seas and all.
… site archives: What should you do with your life? Find out!