Preface: We are devoting the month of August to a value exploration of work ethic. You can continue to find new article links in this series on the August 2013 archive page, where they are listed with previews.
A Career Path’s Lessons Learned
Because of my own work history, I’m often asked about working in the hotel industry. The conversation which ensues can be a long and meaty one, particularly when I’m aware the person inquiring has several options he or she can explore, for my coaching instincts kick in, and I want them to make their best possible choice.
The Hawai‘i hotel industry was good to me overall, but there were several ups and downs, with many of those downers due to sacred cows in an archaic business model, downers I feel were completely uncalled for. Unfortunately, that model still exists today, entrenched in corporate power plays, and were I given a magical career rewind, I would very likely make a different career choice; as they say, hindsight is indeed 20/20. Thus, I hesitate to recommend a career path I would not make myself: The only position I would consider in the hotel business today, would be as the power player there to quickly, and drastically reinvent lodging’s business model from top to bottom.
To have any business without a feasible, and fully functioning business model was irresponsible to me. It was pretty dumb, but mostly, it was simply wrong.
Do you feel good about the business you work in, feeling it is sound?
— The Rub of the Business Model is Solved by your Values
Inevitably the subject of fair and equitable compensation comes up at some point of the conversation, for the hotel business is one in which you employ many at minimum wage or entry level pay scales, which in my opinion, is the most archaic and unethical business practice of them all. It can be a very explosive topic here in Hawai‘i, and those who know I often push the reinvention suggestion take delight in questioning me for all the answers.
Well, I don’t have all the answers, and I do understand that it becomes a complicated issue when you battle long-standing corporate structure, deal with unionized job classifications, etc. etc. Cry me a river; we can all chime in with more obstacles if that’s all we set our sights on.
I won’t do that with you. I refuse to believe that equity in compensation is impossible, and my tolerance of those who justify their industry positions by lamenting in helpless commiseration is low to nil. Answers are out there, simmering in someone’s brain, waiting to be discovered, experimented with, and tweaked in pilot programs until they begin to work.
We create our own destiny.
If you insist on pressing me for my answer to your “What should I do?/ Should I take the job?” questions, it’ll be this:
Focus on what can be done versus what can’t be.
Be part of any problem’s solution — solvers are the learners and innovators.
Earn your keep, get paid better.
And I’m talking to everyone right now, not just the ones in charge.
Now as honest as I’ll be with them when they screw up, it’s no secret that I am the manager’s advocate. You can’t blame everything on management, and this area of improving your lot in life is the perfect example of one in which employees need to get better at creating their own destiny as courageous, self-empowered individuals with a personal-1st/ professional-2nd/ integrated work ethic as their driving value.
This is the way I see Work Circa 2013 and Beyond working best:
1— Choose a job you will love to do AS IS right now because it suits your preferred lifestyle (without your best health, everything else is a moot point). Choose a mission-driven employer with practiced values which ALREADY ALIGN with your personal values. You should love that job and that employer so much that the pay — whatever it is — is the icing on the cake.
2— Visualize your desired growth, and invest in the work-based learning needed to get there (work-based in increasing your relevant skills, knowledge, and network), one new and highly concentrated lesson at a time. The way I see it, the biggest benefit to having an employer (as opposed to being a self-employed entrepreneur) is the workplace education they finance for you with its associated networks.
3— Inculcate: Incorporate those new lessons into your day-to-day job in a way that translates into added value for your employer: you work with Aloha in their house. Go for the win-win: Help them get better, and help them become more successful as you actively practice your new skills and personalize them.
THIS is the Personal-1st/ Professional-2nd/ Integrated work ethic formula in real workplace practice.
4— Voila! You have reinvented your job on your terms and based on your values, AND you have added to your own worth. It is in your employer’s best interest to have you continue to do so, because you earn your keep (i.e. your pay and total compensation) by sharing values-based worth and financial equity.
5— Deliver those values-based AND value-added results consistently so that you are thought of as indispensable, yet fresh and relevant — never rest on your laurels. Quantify your results for your employer (do your own performance review the way it should be done!) and ASK for the compensation you are now worth; don’t just wait for your boss to feel generous.
Said in a simpler way that cuts to the chase: Help find the money to pay you better, and then collect your fair share of it.
In my view, this is the new definition of work at that grassroots level. Grassroots growth is fertilized by that person who, as stated above, creates their own destiny as a courageous, self-empowered individual with a personal-1st/ professional-2nd/ integrated work ethic as their driving value.
The Possibilities are Endless
Some of the best workplace reinventions I am seeing right now are those in which job position titles are being eliminated (Case in point: Consider how few secretarial positions still exist, and think back to how they were transitioned). Even short-sighted downsizing and recession/budget-related layoffs can have their up sides. If archaic job descriptions remain for some reason they are simply ignored, or they are changed. When employees get stuck on job names and titles they only perform to those expectations and little more — a sticky trap no manager wants to get stuck in with them.
An old job description should not be something managers take advantage of either: As leaders and managers, we need to be better visionaries and imaginaries, drawing compelling pictures of the opportunities that are to be filled — those opportunities are the new-energy growth possibilities you want employees to see themselves in. Then we need to give them full freedom and creative license to make their growth happen.
I guarantee you: There IS some reinvention possible in the job you hold right now. Create your future.
From Managing with Aloha (Chapter 11 preamble):
‘Ike loa is the value of learning.
Seek knowledge, for new knowledge is the food for mind, heart and soul.
Learning inspires us, and with ‘Ike loa we constantly give birth to new creative possibilities.
‘Ike loa promotes learning in the ‘Ohana; we must incorporate the seeking of knowledge and wisdom into our business plan and into our daily practice.
‘Ike loa is to know well, and knowing others well enhances our relationships and broadens our prospects.
‘Ike loa. Pursue wisdom. Learn and know well.
‘IKE LOA (more here) is a value I ask Alaka‘i Managers to adopt whatever and wherever their workplace, so that together, we can all contribute to the omnipresence learning should attain. I believe that lifelong learning is essential in the life of ALOHA because it is spark to the PALENA ‘OLE fuse of unlimited human capacity:
Key 9. PALENA ‘OLE:
Palena ‘ole is the Hawaiian concept of unlimited capacity. This is your exponential growth stage, and about seeing your bigger and better leadership dreams come to fruition. Think “Legacy” and “Abundance” and welcome the coaching of PONO into your life as the value it is. We create our abundance by honoring human capacity; physical, intellectual, emotional, and spiritual. When we seek inclusive, full engagement and optimal productivity, any scarcity will be banished. Growth is welcomed and change is never feared; enthusiasm flourishes. PALENA ‘OLE is an everyday attitude in an ‘Ohana in Business, assuming that growth and abundance is always present as an opportunity. Given voice, Palena ‘ole sounds like this: “Don’t limit yourself! Why settle for ‘either/or’ when we can go for the ‘and’ and be better?”
Read more: The 9 Key Concepts of Managing with Aloha