… and there is no better example of this adage than a Human Being.
Here is one of those questions which constantly bounces around in your people’s heads about you, though they never say it out loud enough for you to hear it:
Care enough to know me?
You have placed people within some role in your company, but that role is just one of their parts: Could you tell me about all the others they play? Can you describe their best contributions?
I’ve been working with two different companies possessing starkly different workplace cultures. To describe them without dropping names or industry, we’ll call Company 1 “The Parts” and Company 2 “The Whole.”
The first day I visited their workplaces, each company included a tour of their facilities and several introductions to those who worked there.
Those introductions went like this at The Parts:
“This is Amy. She works in accounting for us as our Paymaster. So as you can imagine, we’re all very nice to Amy, ha ha!”
The introductions went like this at The Whole:
“This is Natalie, and she’s the one who’s made accounting look like a higher calling to the rest of us! No one does it better, and best of all, no one explains it better; I’ve learned so much from you Natalie! You two probably have a lot in common Rosa, for Natalie has a son and daughter recently done with college just like you do.”
By the way, these companies are roughly the same size in both staffing and market share. “They’re smaller than us” or “they’re larger than us” makes no difference here.
Their primary difference, a difference I’ve now seen played out in its effects on everything else, is how well their managers know their people, and know each other (i.e. all peers and partners) as Whole Human Beings. The difference, is what those managers will focus on, and what energies they will then have at their disposal.
Parts can intrigue us, yet they are just a part of something bigger.
When we only know Parts, we only work with Parts. We don’t ask too many questions, because we get pigeonholed in working on “Just the facts Ma’am.” We tend to expect finely tuned specialization that is relentlessly focused on the job at hand and nothing else.
It never really works that way though, does it. ‘Parts’ is plural: If you only work with one of them — like a specific job classification, or org chart role — the other parts of a Human Being don’t stop being; they lie in wait below the surface waiting for their chance to emerge. And they usually don’t wait… they emerge and play out whenever they want to or need to. Managers who only know the parts, and only want to see the parts in their workplace, will get startled and flustered when this happens; they retreat more, and engage less.
On the other hand, when we know the Whole, we work with the Whole. We have a larger circle of comfort in our managing. We tend to expect more surprises and delight in them. We try to connect parts together so they make a better, brighter picture — one of collaborative strengths in motion. We tend to expect more generalization, more dabbling and experimentation, and more questions conducive to more learning.
All those expectations set a stage for synergy, where 1 + 1 can = 3.
At The Parts we have much more Managing with Aloha work to do. We’re still working on a lot of the 1 + 1 which = 2, and on the integrities of those 1s individually.
At The Whole we’ve plugged into Managing with Aloha work as well, but we’ve jumped ahead to working on all those 3s. We are much more aware of all the talents, strengths, skills and knowledge assets that are readily available to us within the company, whereas at The Parts, we still must identify those things.
Get to know your people completely.
That’s not intrusive: Getting to know them completely is about being interested in them completely — and showing it. As that question “which constantly bounces around in your people’s heads” implies, it’s about caring enough to find out what’s there so you can recognize it, and honor it.
Getting to know your people completely is about mining their Aloha Spirit and making it visible and workplace-tangible.
Do value the parts separately too, for you need them, and they will reveal the whole to you eventually. I am not asking you to minimize the work at hand, or take any shortcuts with accomplishing it. There is beauty in the parts, I know. All I ask of you, dear manager, is that none of the parts be discounted, suppressed or ignored: Think of those choices about what is in play as the other person’s own prerogative, not yours. You can create and set expectations, but they make the personal choice to fulfill them or not.
So go treasure hunting: We human beings are rich with possibility, and the Alaka‘i Manager will set his or her sights on discovering it. Hunt with a positive expectancy, and you can employ the energy you are sure to find.
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?”