Is there an Identity Crisis where you work?

“I believe in Ho‘ohana as the joy of work, and so it’s the value which drives me in pretty much all I do. Why work for any other reason?

Work very well may be one of my favorite concepts, for I believe in the rewarding celebration of self that work allows us to express. To “work hard” is to be who you are meant to be, reaching in deep and grabbing hold of all the possibility within you. To work for something you want, is to love being who you are capable of being.”

—from our Ho‘ohana for the month of March: Love Your Work

I may still be on vacation, however being in Las Vegas gives me a lot to think about when it comes to how we manage with aloha— or not. Being here is a goldmine of stimuli when it comes to thoughts of how work must become meaningful and worthwhile for people.

For one thing, there are the sheer numbers, so different from the labor par whittling that’s been caused by the essentially-zero unemployment market we have in Hawai‘i. By Hawai‘i standards, there are nearly twice as many people on shift here. So the service should be twice as great, right? Not exactly”

A conversation with our server at breakfast yesterday keeps me wondering about how people in jobs here maintain their very identity. Because they are one of so many and may not enjoy uniqueness and ‘star status,’ they seem to shrink back somewhat, losing their awareness of their presence. They lose consciousness of the fact that we who are customers can actually see them, and in the process, we customers feel we have no identity either. Since those who are here to serve us are barely aware of their own behavior, they are pretty insensitive to ours, our needs, or that we are here at all.

I am increasingly aware of this whether I am in line for my morning coffee, waiting to get in an elevator, calling the concierge on the telephone, or looking for someone I can ask directions from. Once you have their attention you’ve got a 50-50 shot at getting some pretty terrific service (though it is very noticeably only given in what they have been trained in) however getting their attention in the first place is where it gets to be much more hit and miss.

People working here talk to each other way more than they talk to customers, and they don’t seem to realize you are watching them as you wait to get your own sliver of their attention with ever-increasing agitation. Despite all the people working, you wait in line here for everything, and so you notice everything while you wait. I am noticing a lot of managers who don’t see what I see, and it’s driving me crazy.

We’ve got a lot of work to do in our Managing with Aloha movement.

Ho‘okipa:  The value of Hawaiian-style hospitality, in which guests and strangers alike are welcomed with your spirit of Aloha. More at


  1. says

    Hiya Rosa,
    While Vegas can be a fun, peculiar place to visit, I share your lament for the work experience there. And is it so different from any workplace where you get lost in the overwhelmingness of it all…where you lose your sense of purpose for the work you do?
    It does beg a few questions:
    What are the service philosophies guiding these hotels and restaurants?
    Where’s the leadership of management to guide employees to a more ‘Aloha’ state of mind?
    Or, is any of this important?
    Enjoy the rest of your trip.

  2. says

    It does cause you to wonder Chris. You often hear that the LV business model is just about one thing, and that’s the draw of the casino, with all other services almost considered the ‘necessary evils’ just there to round out the experience. However that’s way too pessimistic a view for me! I have to believe that there are good people there who want to do good things, however, clearly, the magnitude of the numbers makes it additionally challenging.

  3. says

    Or perhaps its an example of change on a macro scale. The perception that Vegas is all about the casinos is becoming more dated. It’s almost like the casinos are now just a part of the total atmosphere intermixed with entertainment of nearly all kinds. Which leads to the idea of change…has this notion of entertainment (and by extension, hospitality) been fully grasped throughout the folks who work there at all levels?
    You’re raising some interesting questions that are definitely worth exploring further.

  4. says

    “They lose consciousness of the fact that we who are customers can actually see them, and in the process, we customers feel we have no identity either.”
    I love the way you express this. Heaven forbid I should treat people this way either. This contributes to my own sense of presence whether a customer, a party-goer or a business-owner-servant.
    Good one!

  5. says

    Chris, you ask, “has this notion of entertainment (and by extension, hospitality) been fully grasped throughout the folks who work there at all levels?” My answer, based on this recent trip, is No. It’s such a shame, for Las Vegas is so impressive in many ways, and thus the potential for taking a leadership role is huge.
    The entertainment mix is a whole ‘nother subject, however it’s also reduced to irrelevance if the basics of welcoming hospitality aren’t met first. Entertainment without the warmth of some personal connection doesn’t hold much value. An employee’s own sense of identity [as mea ho‘okipa- host] is important because they have to feel hospitality for themselves before they can give it; a dry sponge can’t do the work it’s meant to do.
    Pete, in the time I have come to know you, I cannot imagine that you’d be guilty of these kinds of sins! Thank your for adding to the discussion!