The Role of the Manager, Redesigned and Reconstructed
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Aloha mai kākou, let’s talk story. One can easily view the world in two camps right now, those who want to return to how things were pre-pandemic as quickly as possible, our ‘old normal,’ and those chomping at the bit for the creation of a ‘new normal.’ I’ve made no secret of where I sit: I want a new normal which is better, in that it’s more sustainable and equitable, not just safer. Truth is, the pandemic didn’t create my views, it simply fortified them: I’ve been on a soapbox talking about management reconstruction (the profession) and business model reinvention for a long time, years which predate my publishing of Managing with Aloha. I’ve written about it as my latest essay for Ke Ola Magazine.
In my Series 3 essays for Ke Ola Magazine, I committed to a focus on work's detail via Managing with Aloha's 9 Key Concepts. I'll add the series introduction link below in case you missed it. The May Through August 2020 issue was distributed earlier this week, and it presents my 5th article for the series as its Business Feature. Here it is for you, in full so you need not click away:
(A copy is also archived on RosaSay.com: The Role of the Manager, Redesigned and Reconstructed.)
The Role of the Manager, Redesigned and Reconstructed
People ask me, “What’s a good jump-start to help me deep dive into a Managing with Aloha practice?”
First, read the book for an overall picture of what the philosophy is all about, and read it with purpose: What are your goals? Freshly articulate them.
Second, identify your core values personally and professionally: Understand which beliefs and convictions propel you forward, for they drive your life and your work when pursuing Ho‘ohana, the value of worthwhile work. Identifying your values is the first step to harnessing their energy; get them to help you feel the work you do is for you and on you as your ethos.
Third, start doing the Daily 5 Minutes immediately, the conversational practice described in Chapter 11 of the book on ‘Ike loa, the value of learning. It will help you become a “good receiver” practicing no-agenda listening as it keeps you connected to the practical relevancy of your everyday work and essential relationships. If you do not have direct reports, do it with your peers. I cannot overstate how useful this is: your Daily 5 Minutes helps you prioritize and “keep it real” with right task/right time focus, illuminating the action steps you need to take each day thereafter as it simultaneously strengthens your partnerships.
Finally, commit to Key Concept 4, The Role of the Manager Reconstructed, for that’s where the magic of true “with Aloha” management for the better happens. This is the key which opens the door to all 9 concepts. Let’s examine this part of the Managing with Aloha jumpstart more fully.
Can you guess who has the worst, most useless Job Position Description (JPD) in every company universally, and no matter what the mission and vision of that company may be? Managers.
They often have no JPD at all, for managers are largely expected to write it for themselves—to show up where needed, and then be there as stopgap or emergency valve. They babysit—everyone cringes when I use that word, yet if they’re honest, they’ll admit that’s what they mostly do. They aspire to leadership by neglecting its foundation in good management.
Therefore, when we at Say Leadership Coaching take on a coaching project, we initiate the same jumpstart just recommended to you:
We identify that company’s mission and vision; we identify the core values we need to align all our recommendations and actions with; we teach and coach the Daily 5 Minutes to involve people immediately with difference-making participation; and we take steps to reimagine, redesign, reconstruct and then implement a renewed role for all managers in the company as quickly and as comprehensively as possible.
Are JPDs a traditional tool in your company? Keep using them IF you continually revise them to ensure they’re relevant and useful. JPDs should be personalized to the mission of your company and to a person’s Ho‘ohana when seen as their professional mission statement. Therefore, I can’t propose a draft for you. Yet I can give you the guideline we share. Use this in your Key 4 reconstruction as goal-setting: Is this result what your JPD would achieve?
“Managers must own workplace engagement and be comfortable with facilitating change, creative innovation, and development of the human asset. The ‘reconstruction’ we require in Managing with Aloha is so this expectation of the Alaka‘i Manager is both reasonable and possible, and so they can channel human energies as a company’s most important resource, they themselves having the time, energy, and support needed in doing so. Convention may work against us, where historically, people have become managers for reasons other than the right one: Managing people is their calling. A new role for managers must be explicitly valued by the entire organization as critically important to their better success: Managers can then have personal bandwidth for assuming a newly reinvented role, one which delivers better results both personally and professionally, and in their stewardship of the workplace culture.”
Managers should be creative initiators, coaches and culture stewards. Realistically, they may become babysitters, stopgaps and emergency valves at times, but those become very rare and short-term conditions in reconstruction—even ‘temporary’ and ‘acting’ is unreasonable and unhealthy in workplace cultures managed with Aloha—correct course and/or fill your vacancies quickly.
The role of the manager has become crucial in our time, when Human Resources is no longer the manager’s stopgap, emergency valve or resource, primarily focused as they are on laws, regulations, benefit costs and negotiation.
I say, bring it on. I have the utmost faith in Alaka‘i Managers as those who can do ‘human resources’ better than it has ever been done before.
We ho‘omau kākou.
Ke Ola Series 3 to date:
Introduction: We Ho‘omau Kākou, September 2019
On Key Concept 1: The Aloha Spirit in Business, October 2019
On Key Concept 2: Ho‘ohana isn’t Job. It’s Joy, January 2020
On Key Concept 3: Align—Put Your Values to Work, March 2020
Quote sticking with me lately:
“In the David-versus-Goliath battle between big and small businesses in America, COVID-19 is, contrary to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s recent assessment, no “great equalizer.” It’s a toxin for underdogs and a steroid for many giants.” —Derek Thompson sums up my fears in his article for The Atlantic: The Pandemic Will Change American Retail Forever, one of the best post-pandemic-projection commentaries I’ve read in both content (it’s not just about retail) and due to Thompson’s exceptional writing.
“Because the pandemic pauses the present, it forces us to live in the future.”