Community, and the Responsibility of Leadership

My first title for this was, My Responsibility for Leadership and the Mālama of the Ho‘ohana Community but it was too long. However it is what I want to talk about.

I just read a conversation on the Never Work Alone Google Group with much interest and self-reflection. In short, an honest and forthright member is asking if the group should be declared dead. The initial energy that had accompanied the group’s founding, has dwindled from whitewater rapids to the trickle in a dry streambed which results from an occasional cloudburst. Others in the group are weighing in with their thoughts.

I couldn’t help but compare what is happening there, and in another online group community I am involved with (the founding leader has just given the rest of us notice that he’ll be stepping away soon), with our own Ho‘ohana Community, giving myself a good reality check on our overall health as a vibrant community. Ironically appropriate in these last two days of having Mālama, the value most widely translated to mean “to take care of” as our value of the month.

People will say there is no coincidence, and you need to pay attention when forces seem to align themselves, and I have so often found this to be true. This morning, while on my morning run, when thoughts so often come to clarity for me, I was thinking about momentum and how we ho‘omau in organizations, more in regard to the ho‘omau definition of continuity deeper than pure persistence, and how we cause the good in our lives to last. I have two clients in particular who are absolutely on fire with their Managing with Aloha learning and internal management campaigns, and I near-obsessively think about how I can help them keep their momentum going. Both have chosen KÅ«lia i ka nu‘u as the overall theme of their strategic initiatives.

In one, we have gotten feedback that “we haven’t had this much involvement, energy, and hope for our future with this company in the last decade.”

In the other, that “it is amazing how our team now feels we can tackle just about any problem our labor challenges and this crazy market throws at us.”

Sounds good right? Well, I know my job is not over yet.

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Coffee, Ho‘ohana, and Syncopated Rhythm

I love watching work done well.

This morning I met a prospective client at a Starbucks known as one of the busiest ones here in Hawai‘i, and at their busiest hour: the 7am to 9am coffee crunch time.

Come to think of it, with all the traveling I do, and all the coffee I addictively drink, it may well be the busiest coffee joint I’ve ever been in. I’ve gone there often, and it’s always like that. The line grows to about 18 people indoors, and then it starts to snake outside in the ever-warming island sun. Yet even when you drive up and see the line is already out the door, you near-dutifully park your car and get in line instead of going elsewhere, for they have a reputation for moving that line at as fast a clip as you’ll ever experience in any other coffee place.

Same espresso machine as in every other Starbucks. No gleaming monster with some mega advantage. In fact, an extra cash register feeding the barista with orders much faster than usual. So how do they do it?

In a word, Peter.

I’m not sure if Peter is the manager, and if not, this story is even better.

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To Mālama, Address the Basics

When it comes to customer service we tend to make things much more difficult than they have to be. Customers have a set of basic needs, and when we practice the value of Mālama we address those needs in ensuring that we are taking care of them.

At first reading, this list may read pretty basic to you too. However can you imagine how thrilled we’d all be if this was the customer service we always received? Basic is a good thing to strive for;

The Six Basic Needs of Customers

1. Friendliness

Friendliness is the most basic of all customers needs, usually associated with being greeted politely, graciously, and with aloha. We all want to be acknowledged and welcomed by someone who sincerely is glad to see us. A customer shouldn’t feel they are an intrusion on our work day!

2. Understanding and empathy

Customers need to feel that we understand and appreciate their desires, circumstances and feelings without criticism or judgment.  Customers have simple expectations that we who serve them can put ourselves in their shoes, understanding what it is they came to us for in the first place; we identify that need and fulfill it.

3. Fairness

We all need to feel we are being treated fairly. Customers get very annoyed and defensive when they feel they are subject to any class distinctions. No one wants to be treated as if they fall into a certain category, left wondering if “the grass is greener on the other side” and if they only received second best.

4. Control

Control represents the customers’ need to feel they have an impact on the way things turn out.  Our ability to meet this need for them comes from our own willingness to say “yes” much more than we say “no.” Customers don’t care about policies and rules; they want to deal with us in all our reasonableness.

5. Options and alternatives

Customers need to feel that other avenues are available to getting what they want accomplished.  They realize that they don’t have all the answers, and they depend on us to be “in the know” and provide them with the “inside scoop.”  They get pretty upset when they feel they have spun their wheels getting something done, and we knew all along a better way, but never made the suggestion.

6. Information

“Tell me, show me ”“ everything!” Customers need to be educated and informed about our products and services, and they don’t want us leaving anything out! They don’t want to waste precious time doing homework ”“ they look to us for the answers.

As part of our MWA Jumpstart program, I talk more about how this list was something which became a Retail Campaign, and how we would use as full week’s lesson plan on Mālama for the customer:

Teaching and Coaching Mālama

Read more there about these Pocket Cards:

The Six Basic Needs of our Customers

How we can express our Mālama for them.

1. Friendliness: Greet and treat with aloha. It’s about who we are.

2. Understanding and empathy: Identify our guest needs and fulfill them.

3. Fairness and beyond: Give them our best, always.

4. Control: We’ll say “yes” way more than we say “no.” Policies and rules don’t “care” we do.

5. Options and alternatives: We’ll offer all we CAN do, and before they have to ask.

6. Information: We’ll offer all we know, all we have, and more than they thought they needed!

We are Mea Ho‘okipa.

This is part of our Ho‘ohana this month:

Our April Ho‘ohana is Mālama: What is Caring in business and at work?

There’s a movement brewing”

Ho‘ohana with us, and Manage with Aloha— Rosa

Are you a fan of The Daily 5 Minutes?

Actually, a better question is this;

If you are a manager, and you want to be a great manager, why wouldn’t you be a fan of the Daily 5 Minutes?

This month
is the perfect time to start if you haven’t done so already, for to know well, you Mālama well.

Go to today and grab your copy of a must-have pdf reference form on the D5M:  Know well, Mālama well.

From Managing with Aloha:

Mālama ka po‘e, care for one’s people, requires sensitivity.

Managers must learn when it’s best to take care of staff issues individually versus collectively at times, treating their staff how they expect to be treated, learning how they define their own personal dignity. This requires that they know their staff well. 

Thus Mālama was a value that would come up often in our discussion of ‘Ike loa and our Daily Five Minutes, for it was usually within this daily ritual that managers would learn about what concerns their staff had, and they were gifted with the timing within which their employees chose to share it.

“Listen with Mālama” meant to listen with caring, to listen for feelings and for kaona—hidden meanings within the words that were actually spoken.

When the Daily Five Minutes was diligently programmed employees did not get lost in the shuffle of the day or go unnoticed when they were troubled—the times they need to be cared for most.

Mālama also challenges us to explore the full range of our employee’s emotional needs so they are met and not minimized or neglected. For example, do you celebrate success and reward achievement? Understand the need for recognition. Do you have practices that make allowances for loss and grieving? Realize when your understanding is needed. Do you recognize the symptoms of stress and undue pressure? Give time when time is needed.

Our April Ho‘ohana is Mālama: What is Caring in business and at work?

D5M is our shortcut for The Daily Five Minutes.