Can you fail with The Daily Five Minutes?

The D5M is coming up a lot lately, which is great! Unfortunately, that means the “yeah, but” responses can follow suit too.

After all these years I’m still trying to solve my teaching challenge with it (and I’m totally open to your suggestions): The Daily Five Minutes stirs up objections when managers hear about it for the first time, even when they immediately get how investing 5 minutes today can save them hours of heartache and extra work later.

They needn’t say so outright; I easily see it in their eyes, or in their changing demeanor, as they sit back and cross their arms defensively. In fact not just upon first hearing; managers even object when they read about it in Managing with Aloha, already having 144 pages to warm up with!

The Daily 5 Minutes appears in MWA within the chapter about ‘Ike loa, the Hawaiian value of learning. That was a purposeful decision for me, for first and foremost, I do consider the practice a learning tool. In adopting it, you are tapping into what you can learn from the people who surround you.

Learning (‘Ike loa) is the why. Conversation (Kākou) is the how.

So what’s the problem? I’ll tell you what I think it is, and if I’m wrong, and you have another reason, please email me, and help me understand your point of view better than I do.

(Photo courtesy of Eddi van W.)

A warning label borne of past experience

Embracing my natural resistance with doing so, if I were challenged to present The Daily Five Minutes to you with a warning label, this would be my draft with it:

In my experience with bringing the D5M to different work teams, regardless of industry, there are two main challenges to the practice becoming part of a work culture:

1. You add first, replace later.
By necessity when done correctly, the D5M does start as a brand new practice both givers and receivers must learn. Thus it starts as a daily addition to task loads managers may already feel burdened with, and they don’t give it their best shot — the best shot required so it begins to work its magic of replacing those other tasks. You have to trust in the process, go all in, and then go the distance, having faith that what starts as an addition becomes a killer of a replacement.

The D5M is a proactive conversation. Once you have proactive communication practices, all your reactive conversations begin to go away. There are less fires to put out because cooler heads always prevail, and no fires were ever started. Big maintenance and/or stopgap projects, such as those dreaded employee surveys, go away completely and forever — people only feel they need to be heard in employee surveys when face-to-face workplace communication is dysfunctional, broken, or depends on unintentional neglect.

However this won’t happen overnight, and some patience is required. New for you, is new for everybody, which leads to the second challenge:

2. You can’t ignore any history.
Everyone will have history to deal with unless the business is brand-spanking-new. The D5M creates disruption where people have gotten pretty good at hiding or ignoring stuff, and that disruption is something managers must be able to handle. Initially, these are even more additions: Will you be able to handle them? If you’ve voiced a “yeah, but” of some kind, have you anticipated this, and is your objection hinting to some self-preservation instinct kicking in?

Think about it: Most people will not readily accept new change until they deal with old irritations. I bet you feel that way too: It seems to be a universal truth no matter where you sit in any organization. Things will come up which you’d thought you’d already dealt with, but no, a conversation still needs to be had: So have it!

Thus the short version of my warning label is this: There will very likely be a price to pay for the good the D5M eventually will deliver. As I see it, that price is a bargain in the grand scheme of things.

All failure is a temporary state of affairs

To address the question of my post title, managers must be able to ‘fail forward’ and do so with Ho‘ohanohano (feeling they both give and receive Aloha, dignity and respect in their workplace) so they can grow in the ways they’ve managed and led in the past. They’ve got to be strong on their own, or have the strong support and mentorship of their boss, with everyone understanding that the workplace transition created by the D5M can be unsettling.

Simply said, the Daily Five Minutes stirs things up. In the end though, the result of a healthier workplace culture is always worth the stirring. Always.

Relationships change in The Daily Five Minutes — they’re supposed to, changing for the better. And the manager is the one who has to take the high road as everyone involved learns, ‘gets taught,’ and gets a taste of those proactive conversations they may have been avoiding before. There’s good, there’s bad, and there’s ugly: You clear your decks in the beginning so you can start fresh without anything having been swept under the rug to fester, and trip you up later on. And everyone gets their shot at you: The worse thing you can do in the D5M is avoid people. (Tacit approval is another yucky thing which is replaced, and goes away forever :)

Do you want easy, or do you want effective?

Do you want more commiseration from me, or a ticket to a brighter future?

I’ve never claimed that The Daily Five Minutes was easy to do. I think it’s very easy to learn the logistics of it, but I’m no Pollyanna: I know you’re rocking your world as a manager when you completely buy in, and give it that ‘best shot’ I ask you to. You’re having conversations you’ve never had before, with people you thought you knew completely, but now discover are more complex than you ever imagined they were. And yes, more needy.

And that is precisely the beauty of it. If you do The Daily Five Minutes, you will become a better manager. If you still question your own calling — Should I be a manager, or should I be doing something else? — the Daily Five Minutes will give you a very clear answer, once and for all.

You’ll stumble at times. You’ll be embarrassed. You’ll eat crow. You’ll admit, “I don’t know, and I have to find out for you.” more than you ever thought you would. It will be a rocky road as you clear your decks to deal with past history, and possibly ask forgiveness for past sins, but you will grow immensely.

And your people will admire you for making the effort: The D5M is essentially a private, one-on-one conversation, but it is a highly visible “I care” habit in the workplace.

No matter the journey, every employee who goes through adopting the Daily Five Minutes with you will eventually become your ‘Ohana in Business partner. That’s the experience which makes me so stubbornly insistent about this:
So you want a MWA jumpstart. Do the Daily Five Minutes.