The ‘basics’ in Managing with Aloha are about basic good. Basic. Good.
Neither is complex. Do them well, and I daresay most of management’s complexity will get solved for you.
“Elementary, my dear Watson.”
Because of what I do, and because it’s our nature to talk about our struggles more than our successes, people tell me a lot of stories about workplaces gone sour. I don’t commiserate, but I will always thank them for speaking up. All can be sweetened again, their issues solved, because all these stories have something in common: The behavior of human beings.
That’s why we make such a big deal about Good in Managing with Aloha as good intention.
Intention is deliberate. It requires on-purpose thought and “I’m wide awake, and fully here now!” actions. When others are involved, intention requires ALOHA authentic conversations so our Basic connections with each other can be made, and made well.
Basic is primary: it’s a grounding at base level.
Basic is elemental: it’s related to, or embodies the powers of nature.
Basic is fundamental: it’s what forms an essential foundation of any kind.
When we add human beings to the equation, something we do in all workplaces, basic is common to, and required by everyone.
Basic becomes inviolable: it’s never to be broken, infringed, or dishonored. Dignity, for instance, is inviolable.
Basic becomes inalienable: it shouldn’t be taken away from someone or given away voluntarily. Respect, for instance, is inalienable.
In Managing with Aloha, we’re talking Basic Human Rights. Inviolable. Inalienable.
Basic then, is the minimum Good which is required in every workplace, and in every working partnership.
If we look at this from an employee’s point of view, we come up with Basic Human Rights that sound like these:
Respect my sense of belonging: Train me before I face the public.
Give me the tools I’ll need before you expect me to perform with excellence.
Correct me, yes, I need you to do so, but correct me in private.
Correct all of us who need correcting, and not just me.
Drop my baggage, please. My work will continue to look dingy to you if you don’t expect me to improve. I rise, or fall, to your level of expectations, so don’t make it easier for me to fall.
Give me my space and don’t hover, but I need you to care, so don’t completely disappear!
Talk to me more than you do, and about more, and not only when I’ve messed up (or you think I have).
Know the whole story. Investigate before you jump to conclusions.
Keep your promises, and don’t make them lightly.
I’m not a child. Don’t edit information as if I were one. I can handle way more than you give me credit for.
Ask me questions — I know stuff too!
Once in awhile, tell me “thank you.”
“Know that I watch you. I see what you do, and I know what you don’t do. I copy you.”
That wasn’t a comprehensive list. It was the reading between the lines I did, as I listened, just yesterday, to a story of a workplace gone sour. A story told by a person who had applied to work there with high hopes, and received damaged dreams instead.
One story, which sadly, is likely magnified in many workplaces.
But we’re here because we believe in better possibility!
It’s a story you can sweeten and solve forevermore when you’re a manager who cares about Basic Good, and will give it your immediate and constant attention.
When you are a manager, your Basic Good is fully invested in the relationships you have with the people who report to you, who are your peers, and who you report to. Relationships are where Basic Good takes residence so it can thrive and prosper.
People can fix broken processes.
Processes cannot fix broken-in-spirit people.
Paperwork, systems and processes, mission and vision, even customers as consumers and buyers or reason for your cause, must be secondary to the Basic Good of caring for the relationships that are primary, for without them, the rest of it cannot follow. Any greatness is built upon a good foundation.
Basic. Good. Make your own list of easy-solve basics as you watch your own workplace stories unfold before you. Get into those stories one at a time, as you get into the relationship you have within each story.
Just pay attention, with those two words — Basic. Good. — running on repeat in your head, and in your heart as a manager of purposeful ALOHA intention.
An important note to Bosses and Business Owners:
If you have a manager in your organization who refuses to honor and invest in Basic Good, please remove them from your employ immediately — that’s one of your basics. If you fail to do so, know this: I hold you personally responsible for the damage they do (and they are doing severe damage.) KULEANA: Hold yourself accountable.
Postscript: This was a 5-item list of Good Basics I wrote many years ago, and we still use it in our MWA workshops for new managers:
5 Essentials Employees Need to Learn — From You
If you have already taken our New Here? reading pathways, here is another one related to this Good Basics conversation, composed of articles published more recently: