Originally published for the print edition of Ke Ola Magazine, November/December 2019 Hawai‘i Island issue.
Links are additions made expressly for the readers of this site and ManagingWithAloha.com.
This is the 2nd article in the 3rd Series on Managing with Aloha written for the joint study of our Ho‘ohana Community and the business community of Ke Ola Magazine readers.
The Aloha Spirit in Business
Second in Series Three on Managing with Aloha | By Rosa Say
Infusing the Aloha Spirit into the world of business starts at the beginning.
The earliest germination of what would become Managing with Aloha as a workplace philosophy, began with my personal quest to infuse the Aloha Spirit into making one’s livelihood in the world of business. I was fresh out of college, yet I instinctively felt that was where I had to start were I to establish my working life in Hawai‘i. Business intrigued me, and I wanted to work within it, but I didn’t feel that great about how it usually happened.
I’d find I wasn’t alone in my struggle to blend my chosen career with my life.
Back then, working in any field of business largely meant business aligned with Western values—if it was value-aligned at all. Whether written or spoken, “value” or “values” commonly meant monetary value. The Hawaiian Renaissance of the past few decades was nascent, and as I wrote in Managing with Aloha, “‘Business as usual’ does not mean ‘business colored with the spirit of Aloha,’ yet it should.”
Can we say that’s no longer the case, and that Aloha and Hawaiian values permeate Hawai‘i’s workplaces today? I do believe we have made significant progress, however, the truth of the matter is that we need to work on infusing business with the Aloha Spirit constantly and more consistently.
How does that happen? Start at the beginning.
Strategically, this is a pretty easy thing to do.
We have several ‘beginnings’ in business. Recruitment. Hiring. Orientation. An employee’s first day in a new job, or with a new boss. A promotion or transfer into a new department. That first performance appraisal.
A customer’s first impression on the web or phone, and their first walk through our doors. A first marketing pitch or advertising launch. A first tangible step in each strategic plan. A first conversation with a new partner or supplier. A first focus group before branching into a new community.
A first failure. A first success… when you really think about it, businesses begin anew all the time. If each of these firsts begin with a healthy infusion of the Aloha Spirit, they can begin in the best possible way.
This is the real, in-the-trenches, every day way we bring the Aloha Spirit to business. We sweat the details, and we pull apart the myriad of systems, processes, and functions we’re embroiled with, to see them as the person-to-person relational interactions they can be, interactions which get people to feel the Aloha Spirit was what they’ve experienced.
The “stuff of business” needs to be thought of first and foremost, as interactions where the Aloha Spirit literally comes out to play. One’s Aloha Spirit is a natural people-pleaser. It helps people discover who they innately and humanly are both inside (‘ha’ by nature of their spirit and breath of life) and outside (‘alo’ and in presence, demeanor, and expressed interaction with others).
If there’s one thing I want you to know about Aloha, it’s that—it’s a person to person interaction. It’s not a theme; it’s not a slogan; it’s not a campaign or the cutesy rhythm of an A-L-O-H-A acronym. It’s not even sense of place, unless by ‘place’ you mean the people within it. Aloha is warm, it’s personal, and it’s directly focused on connecting with the person directly in front of you.
That’s the Hawaiian way we do business.
At Managing with Aloha: What is the Aloha Spirit? It’s you!
Aloha is contagious. When you apply your Aloha Spirit to all your beginnings, it has a way of permeating your middles and endings as well. It thrives, and you flourish.
The best bosses, work to make sure that everyone in their ‘Ohana in Business feels they have the personal freedom to express their Aloha Spirit. The workplace cultures they steward are dynamic, in that they function to assure people gain the energy and enthusiasm they need to bring Aloha into their work.
Business is, and will always be about monetary enterprise, for even non-profits need financing if they’re to succeed. Aloha is about how we make business happen while we thrive and prosper as human beings as well. We bring our Aloha Spirit to business and in doing so, we always make it better.
We ho‘omau kākou,
Aloha and the Aloha Spirit comprise Key Concept 1 in the Managing with Aloha: We celebrate SPIRIT as our innately abundant source of well being. Next issue, we’ll talk about Key Concept 2: Ho‘ohana in worthwhile work.
Read more about the value of ALOHA at www.ManagingWithAloha.com and in these articles archived for Series 1 and 2:
– Series 1 Why Values? And Why “Manage with Aloha?”
– Series 1 Aloha is our Rootstalk (Nov. 2013)
– Series 2 Aloha Intentions: Ke Ola Series 2 (May 2016)
– Series 2 Aloha ~ “for real.” (July 2016)
Postscript: Ke Ola is published 6 times a year, and distributed in print on Hawai‘i Island and by subscription. I have therefore made a practice of archiving the articles on RosaSay.com for those within our Ho‘ohana Community who may want to read them after their scheduled distribution.
You can access all 40 articles I had written for Series 1 and 2 via this index. The introductory columns for each series may be read at the following links:
Series 1: Why Values? And Why “Manage with Aloha?”
Series 2: Aloha Intentions
Series 3: Ho‘omau Kākou.