An Aloha Business for 2012

by Rosa Say on January 3, 2012

Last post, we talked about an approach for the January overwhelm that can appear this time of year, and our talk story about it slanted toward the personal. Let’s talk about your workplace today.

If you are a business owner, or an Alaka‘i Manager — one with Kuleana (a sense of personal responsibility, and personal accountability) within your circle of influence, whatever its scope, AND you have the Ho‘ohana intention to manage with Aloha — this post is for you.

An Aloha Business for 2012

What will the Aloha business look like and feel like? Why will it be the best kind of business to tackle the coming year’s challenges with the greatest prospects of success? What will it take, so it truly thrives and prospers?

Here are my suggestions for you.

STEP 1: Allow your people to design their own work schedules, both where and when, and how much.

If you’re a manager who maintains control of a schedule, it’s time to let it go. To be frank, you should’ve let it go a long, long time ago. If you have a group who works to obey their assigned time on the clock versus the demands and mission of the business, you still have a ‘staff’ and not a ‘tribe’ who will rally around a common cause with the vibrant energy an Aloha-valued business thrives on.

Even businesses with operating hours can successfully put their work schedules in the hands of their people, and should do so. You replace the schedule the manager has controlled (and refereed, yuck) with an agreement: Allow your emerging tribe to self-organize around necessary coverage first, and then self-direct, filling in the blanks with the rest of the work. Those ‘blanks’ are the opportunities to go above and beyond mere coverage, illustrating for you the work they choose to do because it is most important, either to them, or to your customer, and aren’t those the two groups of people who count most in the workplace equation to begin with?

You’ll be in for a might-be-rocky adjustment at first, but I promise you, the self-sorting, self-directing, tribe-loving work of your people will begin to reveal its treasures. They will surprise you, delight you, and fill you with pride.

If you’re arguing with me in your head with this, insisting that, “well fine, it doesn’t have to be me, but I’ll probably need a lead,” that lead will emerge — your people will elect their most trusted peer. Let it happen and stay out of it, for you have other things to do (read on!)

A related read in the archives, about giving permission: When Managers Say the Right Things. To be an Alaka‘i Manager, work on this deliberately: Speak with those two critical intentions of giving permission and sharing your appreciation.

STEP 2: Value-align your Customer Service with a value-mapping 12×12.

Imagine what it will do for your business — your profits, your cause, your reputation, your standing in the community — if you improve your customer service x12 in 2012! This is how you get there:

Begin a value of the month program which will focus on work-aligning the answers to just one crucial question month after month, a two-fold one: a) What does this value mean to us, and b) How do we share this value with our customer?

Sometimes the answers will have to do with changing what you allow a customer to do or not do: The answers which emerge as the month goes by won’t only be about you and your tribe. That’s good: Get rid of your sacred cows, reinvent and innovate, move forward and get better.

Start with the values which are most important to you, and work your program with the 12th of each month as day 1: Keep that x12 number in mind every way you can, and have this program take you through next year’s holidays to January 11th, 2013. For instance:

January 12-February 11: Ho‘okipa, the value of service in generosity.
February 12-March 11: Mālama, the value of caring, compassion, and stewardship.
March 12-April 11: Kākou, the value of communication, and inclusivity.
April 12-May 11: Lōkahi, the value of teamwork, cooperation and collaboration.
And so on.

What you will begin to discover — and it will surprise you how quickly this happens — is that your self-directed tribe will apply this value alignment to everything else too: That’s the magic of value immersion. You, as Alaka‘i Manager, take the lead with inspiring the charge for the customer, because they won’t always speak for themselves with the same “me too!” urgency that your tribe will. In fact, think about bringing favorite repeat customers into the program as well: Ask them to be your mentor of the month!

STEP 3: Realign your own Ho‘ohana as an Alaka‘i Manager.

If you tackle my first two suggestions with full commitment, you will be able to redesign your own day-to-day work as a manager — and as an emerging leader — because of the natural replacement of tasks that happens for you.

It won’t all be peaches and cream at first, for you have to get through the crucible of change that leads to the good stuff. For instance, you may discover that some people leave the tribe (or are forced out) because their comfort zones erode and they can’t evade the radar any longer — ultimately a good thing. Taking care of your tribe will always be Job One of the Alaka‘i Manager, but you are progressing magnificently, and growing as your people grow in their own self-direction. Keep your eye on the prize!

Eventually, there will be two game changers you can concentrate on from now on, because you have brought them into the realm of your “adjacent possible” (see footnote):

  1. The development of your people: How can you mentor their growth? Start here: Are you doing the Daily Five Minutes yet? then review this: Annual Appraisals, and then key in to ‘Ike loa, the value of lifelong learning (Review chapter 11 in Managing with Aloha.)
  2. Your business model: Re-sort out the financial common sense and innovative sense of your business model — compensation, profit-sharing, reinvestment, community philanthropy, all of it. Become the leader you haven’t had the time to become up to now, for that time is here.

I know you can do this, for you are an Alaka‘i Manager.

I won’t be posting again until January 12th or later, so you have the time to plan this, have your group meetings necessary, invite customer mentors and get started. Do write me if you have a question, or encounter a speed bump and we’ll talk story about it.

We ho‘ohana kākou, and always with Aloha!
Rosa

… if you ache for something fresh to read between now and my next posting, remember that you can always click over to my Tumblr, Ho‘ohana Aloha, and see what finds are getting added there.

Footnote: “Adjacent possible” is an environmental condition I learned about in Steven Johnson’s book, Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation. “The phrase captures both the limits and the creative potential of change and innovation… the adjacent possible is a kind of shadow future, hovering on the edges of the the present state of things, a map of all the ways in which the present can reinvent itself” — if you, as manager, are willing to take that leap into a better future, bringing your workplace with you.

Irresistible

Are you just catching up with our Ho‘ohana Community now? Here are links for our most recent talk stories this week:
January 1: What do you know to be sure? Hō‘imi ola.

Hau‘oli Makahiki Hou — Happy New Year!
I sincerely hope that 2011 ended with ma‘alahi joy for you (contentment), as it did for me. I am flush with the lush generosity of Mahalo (an elemental gratitude) as I sit and write this for you. Good endings help us create good beginnings…

January 2: Value Verbing: Theme 2012 with your Aloha Spirit

In my Makahiki letter, I’d said that I love this time of year because it is Ka lā hiki ola (the dawning of a new day) at its most pervasive moment: We human beings collaborate in self-care, and in our Ho‘ohana intentions. The whole world seems to be in sync, as we collectively look back to assess what we’ve come to know. We corral our confidences and our strengths, and then we look forward, expectantly, and with hopeful optimism knowing those confidences and strengths are packable and adjustable: They’ll remain with us, and they’ll remain useful.
What’s not to love? In a word, the overwhelm.

Written for January of 2010, and a good read to review: The ALOHA Point of View

Purchase Managing with Aloha at Amazon.com in hardcover, or in the Kindle Store.

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