All Hallows Eve Values

Happy Halloween!

Kohala Mountain Morning

Feel that orange glow? I do… holidays like this one are wonderful in the way they get us to connect with our values so automatically, don’t you think?

Halloween is a favorite in our family, for beyond all the obvious fun of the day, it’s my husband’s birthday. So family — and ‘Ohana in Managing with Aloha — is always a character value of this particular holiday for me and my children as we plot his surprises in ways more twisted than usual for birthdays. We can’t think about the day without thinking about each other and remembering some nuttiness, and that’s always a good thing. There is a lot of laughter in our Halloween.

Another can’t-help-it for me, is thinking about Aloha, and its inside-us nature. The spirit of Aloha is our spirit, and so it goes with us everywhere, present in everything we do. No costume will ever cover it up, and no candy can be sweeter. Have you noticed that too, how the real person shines through the most elaborate costume?

Then there’s that sweet anticipation of October 31st: It seems to arrive in clockwork fashion today, right on time. Palpable, isn’t it?

I was taught that Halloween is “all hallows eve,” the day and night before the solemnity of All Saints Day, so while dressing up, indulging in too much candy and going to street parties are more strongly connected to present day celebrations in our neighborhood too, I do think about Ka lā hiki ola, that “dawning of a new day” as another chance to always become better. Within my childhood-given values, this time was strongly connected to the goodness of those Saints as normal folk who were so inspiring, and often overcame such adversity (the value of Ho‘omau) — heck, they were saintly people, but they started out normal, just like me! So I get filled with the hope and the promise of everything yet to come, and I get more confident and expectant, knowing that November, December and January hold promises galore — there is so much to look forward to, and as the value of Mahalo reminds us, so much to already be thankful for, and to be happy you dwell within.

And yet the best thing about Halloween may be all the fun and playfulness. Nothing is taken that seriously, and we even laugh about the frightfulness in its theming. My goodness, this is a day we get so creative, dabbling in ‘Imi ola in unique yet silly ways. I have always loved the way that people will let loose in the workplace on Halloween, bending the rules, ignoring uniforms and other branding, and allowing the lighthearted pleasure of the day to take over.

So as you unwrap your favorite treat today, stop for a moment and think about the rest of your goodness too: The wonder of your own values will come out to play today, because as Aloha assures us, they are always with you. As a smiling jack-o-lantern might say, could he talk story with you, your values are “for time immortal.”

Have a fun Halloween.

Our canine Say ‘Ohana: Kobe, Meeko and Mana:

Pumpkin Dogs

Aloha! Just joining us?

Talking Story is the blog home of those who are learning to be Alaka‘i Managers — those committed to managing and leading with Aloha. Read a preview of the book which inspired this movement, and visit our About Page.

Talking Story with Rosa Say

How Great Managers Hire: Fit, Role and Relationship

Dear Manager,
How do you recruit, interview, select and hire (RISH)?

You have a position to fill, and I assume you’ve done your prep work well: You have seized the opportunity at hand to re-evaluate the vacancy completely, whether adding to your team or replacing someone. You’ve played devil’s advocate, asking yourself why you need to hire, and why this particular job is mission/vision/cause-critical: The job is worthy (it’s important) and worthwhile (it’s desirable).

All of that defines the job at hand, but it doesn’t necessarily describe the job-holder. Not completely. When Alaka‘i Managers select someone and hire them, they’ll be hiring for fit, role and relationship.

Hire for the future, not for the past

In my early days of being a manager, I would conduct hiring interviews as most rookies do. I’d look over their job application or resume as the candidate sat in front of me, and I’d ask whatever clarifying questions came to mind, without understanding my first mistake — hiring from their point of reference instead of mine.

It wasn’t until a considerable amount of trial and error, selecting three poor gut-choices as my interview questions for every shot-in-the-dark fortuitous one, that I realized something that would forever change my approach: The fine details of a person’s past experience was not as important to me as the likelihood of what they would do going forward, having the benefit of retaining that experience.

What had they learned, and what would they now do with their most valuable lessons? What would they do with me, and with the job I offered them? How could I imagine the job getting further defined with their personality and character (their Aloha), their signature Ho‘ohanohano distinction, their ideas and probable growth (‘Imi ola)?

Within my interview process I had been filling in the blanks of a candidate’s past. What I eventually learned to do instead, was fill in the blanks of their most probable future, a future I would have a role in. [For more in that regard, read The Role of the Manager Reconstructed].

When the interview was over, there was really only one question I needed to have an answer for: If I hired this person, what was I getting myself into as their manager?

Try This - 1
Try This - 1 by Lululemon Athletica on Flickr

Would this person be self-managed? Would they be a star, comfortable in their own skin, yet eager for more learning, and possible change? Was this person ready for leadership in whatever circumstance the world would place them in, or would I as their manager be required to work with them in their self-leadership arrival process — and if so, to what degree?

Could I feel their energy? Would we constantly be forging a partnership we were likely to both flourish in?

Most managers learn these lessons eventually, but RISH is one of those areas in which you really want to speed up the learning, for mistakes are costly. Trial and error is a lousy way to learn how to hire. So reflect on your own hiring process, and if you manage other hiring managers, have the talk story to help them prepare well, and make better hiring decisions:

  • What is FIT all about in this particular position? We’ll often cover teaming concerns when we first answer the FIT question, but what about values? Values will be the primary behavior drivers.
  • What will be the ROLE of the person you hire, and what then, will your ROLE be as their Alaka‘i Manager?
  • What is the RELATIONSHIP you are expecting to have between you, and how will it evolve in the time they are part of our workplace culture? Will you both be open to welcoming change when it must happen? Will this be a person you will constantly look forward to having conversations with, eagerly giving them your Daily Five Minutes?

Then before you make your final decision and get ready to extend a job offer, ask those same questions of the candidate, restating each to frame their expectations. Do they demonstrate a commitment to deliver on your shared expectations?

When all is said and done, it will be their job, not yours.

Aloha! Just joining us?

Talking Story is the blog home of those who are learning to be Alaka‘i Managers — those committed to managing and leading with Aloha. Read a preview of the book which inspired this movement, and visit our About Page.

Talking Story with Rosa Say

Dear Manager, Who do you want to be?

What I often hear from managers is, “I feel pulled in so many different directions.”

What they mean to say, is that they are trying to please a variety of different people, and it never stops: They will get some short-term results, but they know they have simply bought some time, and soon the juggling act will start again, where they weigh the sensitivities with who to please next — Boss? Subordinate? Peer? Customer? Supplier? Spouse?

They feel caught in a vicious circle where stress and pressure might ebb and flow, but it never ends.

They need a long-term solution to the “pulling at me” dilemma.

The sad thing, is that they usually aren’t even asking me for help; they’re just making a statement to explain “the way things are” without expecting that it can be different.

I'm starting to crack
I'm starting to crack by Nina Matthews Photography, on Flickr

Managing doesn’t have to be that way; there IS a solution.

It sounds counter-intuitive at first, but the answer is in getting more selfish. They need to answer the question, “Who do I want to be with these people?” and that usually requires new work with relationship building, one person at a time, until a healthier, and more productive relationship is in place. That relationship is the long-term solution to the tendency short-term issues have with repeating themselves in shades of never-ending variety.

Let’s look at the manager-subordinate relationship as an example.

Usually, that ‘with’ word is critical, because instead of defining “Who do I want to be WITH this person?” managers — and they are managers with the best intentions — actually work in a way that is about who they need to be FOR that person. In reality, they need to work with their subordinates, and not for them, eliminating as much pinch-hitting as possible so that people can stand on their own in the work they do.

For after all, they were hired to do their work, not you.

Remember this?

Stars want to work with other stars. People want to believe that they are working with the best people in their field, and not with others who are second best.
Lead with Compassion, then Manage for Competence

Managers who operate as salaried pinch-hitters aren’t managers; they’re extras. Most businesses today (and all good businesses, for that matter) don’t employ extras.

The most effective managers do not have co-dependent relationships with other people, not even with those on their team. Great managers coach people to be stars, working toward a goal of that star being individually indispensable in what they do, and in how well they do it. A great manager isn’t “one of the boys (or girls)” and doesn’t want to be: A great manager wants to be supporter and teacher, skills trainer and talent groomer, learning and/or influence resource, coach and mentor — NOT co-worker.

The key word is ROLE, and it’s individually relevant.

You may want to be a co-worker for a peer (and be specific about what that means in that relationship), but not for a subordinate who needs you to be their coach and mentor.

What is the role you play with each person who “pulls at” you? What is it now, and what should it be? — What should it develop toward, so you both grow in your relationship? Your daily work together should be the way your new and improved relationship plays out and progresses: In the instance of their next pulling, work within the steps necessary so that self-development begins to happen for each of you.

Managers are the people in an organization who channel available human energies in the best possible way. When managers work WITH someone, results should be exponentially greater — learning and people-development is somehow woven into it, and the manager isn’t just another pair of hands increasing or speeding up production: When a manager is involved in work with someone else, the process of that person’s work gets tweaked at the same time.

Work on this one person at a time, to do WITH them whenever you’re together, and not FOR them, and you will have your long-term solution of a newer and better relationship between you. The juggling will stop, because it gets replaced with consistent progress.

The prize of course, is that you will now be freed up to work on the role you are meant to work on within your calling: The Reconstructed, Rejuvenated, Newly Respected, and Never Underestimated Role of the Manager.

Find your Sweet Spot, and work there. Be that star, and then, you can move on to more exciting stuff, Your Edge :)

Aloha! Just joining us?

Talking Story is the blog home of those who are learning to be Alaka‘i Managers — those committed to managing and leading with Aloha. Read a preview of the book which inspired this movement, and visit our About Page.

Talking Story with Rosa Say