As I walked down Kapahulu Avenue in a very sunny Honolulu this morning, I passed by a gas station with an attached convenience store and snack shop. Open for business, but not a single car in the lot or at the pump. You could see a clerk through the window, elbows propped on the counter in front of her, wistfully looking outside and probably wondering if anyone would ever stop by.
The station had been stripped down to the basics in a recent ownership change; no posters taped to the windows for coffee, donuts or some hotdog special, no newspaper racks or ATM signs outside— nothing. The only adornment on the entire building was a large yellow banner with red lettering that said, “UNDER NEW MANAGEMENT.” The place was clean and newly painted, but in this case, clean came off as barren. If I were the owner, I wouldn’t be so anxious to advertise the change yet.
The longer I stared at that banner, the more it began to bother me, and the more I felt for that lonely clerk inside. The whole picture was so stark and unpromising. “UNDER NEW MANAGEMENT” was beginning to sound like serfdom in the making. I stood there for a while doing the mental gymnastics of a silent brainstorm; surely the new owner could’ve picked something more exciting and hopeful to say on that banner. The words he’d chosen could have been a much better self-fulfilling prophecy.
My hope with the Managing with Aloha mission, is that a business owner would instead choose to hang a banner which would say something like, “WORKING IN PARTNERSHIP WITH GREAT MANAGEMENT AND LEADERSHIP —AND THRIVING!” Yeah, it’s long, but so what? What customer wouldn’t want to walk in the door and be served in a place trumpeting that announcement? What job seeker wouldn’t excitedly race in and ask, “Do you have any job openings?”
Instead, people choose stock sayings and banners and go for the boring and uninspired. And it’s just a rotten choice all the way ‘round; no one wants to think of themselves “under” any management whether old or new. Working with is way better than working for.
There are a lot of choices between “UNDER NEW MANAGEMENT” and the banner I’d hang, motivating myself to make the words come true. When hung over the door where you work, what would your banner say? What are you doing each and every day, whatever job you hold, to earn the Managing with Aloha banner I want to hang from the rafters for you?
I also like, “WORTHWHILE AND MEANINGFUL WORK FOUND HERE!” Sounds good for all of us I would think, wouldn’t you?
Ho‘omau and your Language of Intention
The Most Underutilized Tool for Effective Communication
Rosa Say is the author of Managing with Aloha, Bringing Hawaii’s Universal Values to the Art of Business and the Talking Story blog. She is also the founder and head coach of Say Leadership Coaching, a company dedicated to bringing nobility to the working arts of management and leadership. For more of her ideas, click to her Thursday columns in the archives, or download her manifesto: Managing with Aloha on ChangeThis.com.
Rosa’s Previous Thursday Column was: Reinvention: It’s something you can do.