Culture-Building: First, understand what Management can be

When are you expected to work with your manager?

Where does individual ownership give way to partnership, and to the team dynamic?

Over and above the day-to-day focus within the work which is done, what are the visionary, mission-driven possibilities elevated in the near future?

How do mavericks grow in your company? How do your best ideas gain support, and then attain traction and velocity there?

These are the kinds of questions which every healthy workplace culture should have definitive answers for, answers which are aligned with the values that company stands for.

Management can then be managemeant.

Culture building needs a solid foundation that serves as fertile ground. We know values are critical. So are their champions.

Those champions should be your managers.

When organizations choose to adopt Managing with Aloha as part of their culture, they’ve done their homework; they usually know about the Core 21, the 19 Values listed on the blog sidebar, the 10 Beliefs, and the 9 Key Concepts. It’s a lot to take in at first, and it’s highly weaveable, but usually 1 Question trumps them all in the eager minds of those anxious to begin:

Where do we start?

My answer is always the same: Reconstruct the role of your managers.
(article, and coaching category) Understand the true cultural work your managers can perform for you when they are liberated and motivated to do so.

Work With Your GiftsThe evidence is clear: Managers create culture. Ignore them (i.e. devalue them), and they can destroy it. My core purpose in writing MWA was to help prevent that sad, damaging downslide from happening, because I know what a positive force great managemeant can be.

In most of the organizations I visit, there is quite a distance to bridge between managers and their staff; they’re operating in totally separate orbits and worse, they’re content to “leave well enough alone.”

Problem is, “well enough” for them isn’t delivering much well being to the workplace culture.

To Do: Today

Help your people understand what a partnership with an Alaka‘i Manager can be about. Help them see why that partnership is so useful, and how enjoyable it can be.

If you do nothing else, get your own perspective in check, and create a healthier relationship with your own manager; set a good example as you flourish in that new partnership.

Go back to the questions at the beginning of my posting: Answering them, and engineering the change which is necessary (with value-alignment) will get you much closer to the well being which will vastly improve the health of your culture.

Comfort Station, Hughes Company 1915, via Baltimore City Life Museum Collection, Maryland Historical Society

Postscript/Weaving: Role versus Practice

If you are a long-time Talking Story reader, you know that I am very insistent on having Alaka‘i Managers adopt and practice D5M, the Daily 5 Minutes, writing things like this:

“I need to be crystal clear about something:
If you’re not giving your staff the gift of the Daily Five Minutes ®
you’re not Managing with Aloha „¢”

~ So you want a MWA jumpstart. Do the Daily Five Minutes.

Adopting D5M gives Alaka‘i Managers a great tool for making everything else happen (‘everything’ being the full spirit-spilling, work-sensible philosophy of Managing with Aloha).

What the D5M does, is collect timely inputs (the talk story) from an ongoing partnership, so the two people involved will always agree on what they should be working on next, working on it Kākou, together.

Before that actually happens, D5M concentrates on the foundational stuff of getting a good partnership in place, so it can be a functioning partnership. There must be comfort between people first: Then, and only then, can they work together to achieve greater things.

This is why there must be Managing with Aloha champions within a culture; they are the braver, more vocal ones who foster better health, and push through any obstacles, just like Ricky does in her workplace culture as a teacher.

Bottom line here, is that I write Talking Story to help you make your way toward being one of those champions. Write me when you have questions; you’re not alone.


On D5M: Comfort in Listening, achieved when “We press on.”

Ricky Knue is a public high school teacher in Seattle, Washington.

She is also an Alaka‘i Manager: Talking Story readers will recognize her name, for she is a generous conversationalist here, sharing her Aloha with us in the comment boxes lokomaika‘i, with generosity and keen insight.

hipster grafittiRicky contributed to The Daily Good this past weekend, with an article which describes how she is using D5M, the Daily 5 Minutes of Managing with Aloha, in her classroom to support teens in listening. As teacher Dar Hosta commented in her 52 Mondays blog this morning,

“The result of this practice, as reported by Knue, are really qualities that we want for all our children to have and, as an educator, I believe that its benefits could far outweigh the loss of ten minutes of otherwise “instructional time”.”

It’s skills training really: Ricky describes the immediate effects for her class, truly marvelous in and of themselves, but she is also giving an extraordinary gift of practiced listening skill to every employer who will one day hire the students she now teaches. We learn how to be better humans, weaving intentional practice into our personal skill set, skills which will continue to serve us wherever we go, and whatever we do.

Here is Ricky’s ‘why’:

“Teens are quick to connect with each other by telling stories and passing along gossip via texting and social media.  But students have lost the art of listening face to face by hiding behind the veil of anonymity. They talk at each other (of course, we adults do this too). As a public high school teacher, I clearly see a need for teens to learn to listen intently.”

Please take some time to read Ricky’s article in full. She describes how she has modified our D5M workplace practice for her teens, while designing a structure that supports the D5M intent beautifully: Listening becomes a gift we give in cultivating “listening with an empty mind” so we become generous receivers.

Ricky also talks about how it is uncomfortable at first, but “We press on.” The initial hurdle is soon overcome, and rewards do follow:

“What I have found is even the most timid participant makes it through the process, and there is much more ease and less tension within the classroom. On a deeper level, as days go by, they also learn to remain comfortable in their skin and comfortable in silence.

As a result, not only do these students feel more at ease when presenting a final project, they also acknowledge each other outside the class room with eye contact and a smile.   This is huge in a large, diverse high school.   Students also come to learn that they don’t need to solve every problem they hear about; they just need to be fully present and inviting.   We don’t have to blurt whatever comes to mind, nor tell our own story.   We begin to empathize with others when they trust us and share their joys and sorrows, dreams and ideas, smiles and quiet times.   We begin to understand that listening is a great way to learn about and experience all life, and experience the joy of connection.

Modern society has very few role models for youngsters to emulate how to remain calm when uncomfortable, so teaching the skills of listening and being present in the moment with an empty mind is something I myself continue to cultivate. Ultimately, as a teacher, all I can do is support them in getting familiar with their own inner space.  But hopefully, they will also have the powerful insight I continue to come to: that listening to our own experience ‘now’ is the most powerful teacher there is.”

PCA119 - Hide and Sheek!

In my years of experience coaching the D5M practice, “We press on.” is the key most managers must discover. They give up too soon instead of dealing with the discomfort that occurs naturally at first.

Ricky is the linchpin in getting this to work for her and her students: There must be a mentor, an encourager, a supporter — someone with the Aloha intention of an Alaka‘i Manager — leading the way if D5M is to gain traction.

Let that someone be you, too.

If you have a story about the Daily 5 Minutes working for you, please share it with us. Write me if it’s not working too; let’s “press on” together (let’s Ho‘omau!) for the rewards are still waiting for you to discover them.


Read more about the Daily 5 Minutes here in our Talking Story archives:

  1. Start with the book excerpt from Managing with Aloha: The Daily 5 Minutes
  2. Then read: 5 Minutes/ 3 Values/ 9 MWA Questions
  3. You can find much more in this blog category listing, such as, Can you fail with The Daily Five Minutes?

Must I work this bit alone?

This is a question I’d love to have more people ask themselves, asking it not in a general way, but with much more specificity, action by action, decision by decision.

Who can give you your second opinion?
Who can tip those aha! moments you have when you get stuck at work?
Who can you bounce an idea off of, feeling free to question it, or laugh about it?
Who might champion it with you, adding their unbridled enthusiasm to your own?
Who can you learn from?
Who can brighten your day in moments with their presence?

More often than not, the answer to these questions will be, “Come to think of it, several people can.” You simply need to get out of your chair (or away from your work station, whatever the case may be) and go to them. Break your orbit and be more comet-like.

An ‘Imi ola life — that ‘best possible’ life — is NOT a solo proposition.

Another way to ask this collection of questions, would be, Where’s the Aloha?
…and, Are you getting some, and giving some?
[ Your Aloha Spirit, Tightly Curled and Regal ]

One of the reasons I’m so bullish on The Daily Five Minutes, stems from the alarming trending I continually see in ‘digitally savvy’ workplaces toward solitary, independent work. I call this the “Downtown yet No Town” weirdness, because in my workplace visits, people will continually tell me how they feel the cubicle mentality still thrives, and is in fact, their world: They go to work each day, and sit at a workstation or in their office with nose to the grindstone as much as 95% of their day. Scary. And sad. Thanks to email, texting and social media (yes, I’m being sarcastic, for it’s no thanks), they aren’t even on the telephone much anymore. I push D5M with them because I know of its power in getting people together again, simply starting with getting out and about, to Hō‘imito actively look for those 5 minutes of found time when they can converse with another human being face to face.

“I dress up for work even tho i hide behind my desk all day.” — mmmony on Tumblr

Forget all the D5M framing if you must — just talk to people more.

Conversation, talking story, and good habits like The Daily Five Minutes are ‘Imi ola triggers: They will elevate the quality of your day, for all work — all good, feels good work — is some balanced execution of what we do on our own and what we do with others. As a workplace culture coach, much of the workplace unhappiness and discontent I see, is clearly the result of an imbalance toward the solitary, where people feel they go it alone. They might be surrounded by other people, but they feel alone most of the time — “Downtown, yet No Town.”

A good number of managers look to solve this by focusing on team dynamics, and yes, by all means, keep group interaction dynamic and vibrant too. Have good huddles. Bring back the staff meeting. Learn to love projects. But understand that people may still feel they disappear in the chaos of a whole team: We all need one-on-one time. If you must choose one over the other, focus on improving your one-to-ones, whether with D5M or other kinds of in-person conversation.

There is so much to be gained from collaborative work, starting with that simple act of asking another person for their opinion — their sharing of knowledge, with you.

Noticing. Person to person, face to face

Liz Danzico and Frank Chimero have me thinking about noticing, and about my own observations (and what I do with them) when I do:

From Liz: The Beagle and the F Train

From Frank: Stand Clear of the Closing Doors

Please take the clicks to read both Tumblrs (they aren’t too long) and come back.

I do think about the giving of our attention quite a bit, for that act of intentional attentiveness is like the starter button to the managing-or-leading energy sequence. Thus, adding observation and noticing to the mix in the remarkable way that Liz and Frank encourage, is another kind of skills-mastery and life appreciation — it is very tantalizing.

I was fortunate enough to deliver a D5M Workshop this past weekend, and so the association is unmistakable for me with that very precious conversation in mind: Noticing is a biggie in our giving someone The Daily Five Minutes too. It’s part of lokomaika‘i — the generosity of our listening attention. It continues to be big in all of our conversing, and how we will respond.

When you think about it, our full capacity for noticing well is something we give up when we opt for digital communication over face-to-face time (like texting or emailing someone in the next room, or same building), for we cannot notice what we cannot see. We cannot notice so much of the emotion that may lurk behind those digital bytes; they simply do not give us enough to observe, and to respond to. We often will miss knowing about things we need to finish well.

I don’t know about you, but that thought, of willingly giving up on so many clues in my digital habits, doesn’t sit well with me. It makes me recommit to my own D5Ms, and to all my other opportunities for in-person communication. There’s a lot of good to notice when we talk story with each other in the person-to-person way! There’s a lot of ease to be gained in affirming others because now, we do notice.

Yes, noticing is definitely a word I need to keep front and center in my vocabulary, and thus, within my intentions. It’s good language of intention (see key 5) in the way I personally manage with Aloha.

not quite clear on the concept
Photo Credit: Not quite clear on the concept by woodleywonderworks on Flickr