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.



  1. Dean Boyer says

    Is there anything a person can do to upwardly influence management? Some of my students are experiencing the helplessness of sad, damaging downslide but want to make a difference for themselves and the company.

    • Rosa Say says

      In my experience Dean, Gandhi was spot on when he said “Be the change you wish to see in your world.” If your students want to work with Alaka‘i Managers, they’ve got to be one themselves, initiating the contagiousness of living, working, managing, and leading with Aloha. They have to demonstrate the better way of value alignment, so that the people who surround them will think and say, “Wow, I want that too” and ask for their help.

      That answer may frustrate them at first, because it’s not a quick fix and will take time, and it can be slow going when you don’t feel you’re in a position of influence yet. But the fact of the matter is that you can’t really change someone else with manipulation, slick tricks, or whatever softer word you want to use to disguise mere tactics: Motivation is an inside job, and upper management needs to be self-motivated to change, because they ‘see the light’ for themselves.

      A healthy workplace culture is an extension of that: It’s a group happening, a working place movement. CULTURE is defined as a group of people working with shared values and beliefs, or at minimum, beginning to work on them. Your students can be ‘the light’ that turns on.

      Therefore, my question for your students would be, do you think a shift like that is truly possible in your workplace, and in your determination to be part of it? In other words, do you share the key values you need in your toolkit? Are you very clear on your probable outcomes, and being realistic about them? Idealism needs to root in fertile ground before it can flower.

      If no other variables change (shifting to a better company, getting a new boss, changing customer focus or market strategy so the work itself shifts) and they stay on board, your students must be the change agent: They can be the catalyst needed. Demonstrating the better way and making it contagious is usually the only way we inspire the motivation within others. Your students will have to dig deep, and be honest with themselves: Are they willing to take the time necessary, and go the distance?

      If so, your students can begin to plot their own course of action with specifics (if Z is my best possible outcome, then X plus Y will get me there), one step at a time. Are they willing to do the work? They can’t eat the elephant in the room with one bite. Deliberate action, value-based on probable outcome, is often the cure for those feelings of helplessness too, because you are doing something affirmative: You are doing the small things that count, moving you ever forward, and helping your more positive feelings of hope and optimism to grow: You are active in the right way. You are becoming the fertile ground.

      The pragmatic advice in Gandhi’s quote, is: Don’t just stir up the pot, be the whole pot, even when that pot feels the heat. Taste good, and be nourishing, and others won’t be able to resist; they’ll line up for their own taste of it.

      More often that not, the best workplace stews have been simmering; there was no flashpoint boil sufficient enough for the culture-cooking required.

  2. Rosa Say says

    Update: If this article resonates with you, but you’re still feeling lost or overwhelmed, this may help: Back to the Basics of Managing with Aloha

    We count on our managers-and-leaders-of-title to forge the way, and when they’re on board with us everything is easier: “on board” generally means our values are aligned. However what I see time and time again, is that workplace teams hold themselves back when just wishing and hoping for upper-level leadership, and they vastly underestimate what they themselves can do on a grassroots level. Take your destiny in your own two hands: Create the future you want.

    Read more…