Huddle up, and Talk Story.
I encourage Alaka‘i Managers to talk story often — to huddle with their team (and do call it a ‘huddle’ instead of a ‘meeting’) and simply talk about something and just about anything, where the manager has no issue or resolution in mind, and no agenda of any kind other than to get everyone in the team talking, encouraging their stories to be told and listened to.
It may be you talk about a current news story — including those supposed no-no’s of politics, sexuality, and religion when relevant and meaningful to your team. It may be you talk about your community habits (‘the market’ and ‘the network’) when a new business opens in town, so personal stories about dabbling in the new, experiencing novel service, being neighborly, or abundance can be told; “… so there is room for all of us to work for our community interests, don’t you think?”
To hear the story, listen to the values.
I remember a very lively talk story had over lunch within a coaching project I was doing when the U.S. Post Office released their very first Forever Stamp — anyone else still have one of those Liberty Bell strips in their wallet? We talked about business models at first, and about the highly calculated move USPS was taking, and then the really good stuff happened, where personal stories were told about the biggest risk everyone sitting around the table had ever taken. We learned a lot about each other that day. There was so much NĀNĀ I KE KUMU richness to admire!
Similar to our practice of the Daily 5 Minutes, talk story huddles benefit from letting someone else start, bringing up whatever they might have in mind, and most Alaka‘i Managers will simply take turns within their teams, getting everyone to participate. My own team doesn’t forget to give me a turn too (they don’t let me off the hook!) and my favorite talk story prompter has always been a good question — I think every manager can benefit from keeping a list of philosophical questions in their coaching arsenal, for questions are the best values-based prompters I know of; we look to our values in seeking to answer them.
One question in particular hits to the heart of values-based story-telling directly, and it’s always been a favorite for me:
VALUE is one of those words with multiple meanings for people, e.g. ‘good values’ versus ‘a good value‘ — is there a difference for you, between your personal values, and what you value?
It’s a question I get often in light of the work I have chosen to do with Managing with Aloha, and I hesitate to answer it in terms of what I think unless I’m in a one-on-one conversation with someone, and only if they offer their answer to me first — you can bet I have feelings about it, but I don’t want to influence them with my answer, because I much prefer to hear what they think about it. As a coach, this is an opportunity for me to learn, and to practice building on my MĀLAMA skills with empathy.
There’s me, and then there’s you.
What I most often hear from people, is that they think of values personally — values are about them and what they believe in; values are a part of them; they feel it, they know it. When they have the chance to talk about their values, that chance is about revealing their self-awareness, and how they feel about the person they are. They are talking about their ‘it factor’ though they’d never dare to call it that. Really, really good stuff, and I feel privileged and honored to listen to it.
On the other hand, talking about ‘what [they] value’ is largely a talk story about the behavior of others, and therefore, about the values that drive other people — values that will circle back and affect them with their ripple effects. A biggie which comes up in our conversation repeatedly? You guessed it: Work Ethic. Oh how we value it in other people!
We celebrate hard work as work ethic, equating it with discipline, diligence, and even with moral character or civic virtue. We recognize that there are extremes, such as workaholic behaviors, and nose-to-the-grindstone habits at the polar opposite of big-picture thinking and all-team awareness (LŌKAHI and KĀKOU). But overall, we seem to be in a day and age where we ache for work ethic’s highly desirable middle ground, where admirable, team-conducive and mission-reliable work habits dwell in workplace culture.
This is the kind of conversation in which foundational, return-to-our-core types of talk story huddles will happen. I strongly encourage you to broach them courageously, allowing your team to speak into what they want and what they value in each other. You will be opening a door to MAHALO, where teams begin to appreciate each other more deeply, and to HO‘OKIPA, where team members seek to serve each other better through demonstrated work ethic precisely in they way the entire team has defined it as valuable to them.
Another good question if your team’s mood is waxing philosophical, is “What is the difference between value and virtue?”
If you have not yet seen it, here is the Resource Page link to my Twelve Aloha Virtues: 1. Hope, 2. Freedom, 3. Humor, 4. Prayer, 5. Vitality, 6. Wonder, 7. Trust, 8. Faith, 9. Grace, 10. Gratitude, 11. Joy, 12. Peace.
If you have a copy of Managing with Aloha, review the MAHALO story of the Alaka‘i Nalu which starts on page 194 under the heading of “Creating the habit of appreciation.”
Aloha! Just joining us?
We are devoting the month of August to a value exploration of work ethic:
- Start here: Today’s Work Ethic: Work for you 1st
- Next, read: We Earn Our Keep, Integrated. It can be difficult to balance the personal with the professional; far better that we integrate them.
- Human energy is the manager’s greatest resource: Managing Energies: Struggle & Ease. How does strengths versus weaknesses, and talent versus skills versus knowledge, relate to work ethic?
- This article! Huddles, Values and the Work Ethic we Value.
- Bonus Links: Related, and published a year ago: Anything and Everything to Talk About and All Conversations Are Not Created Equal.