As the “newbie” of this management team I have a unique perspective. Recently joining the team in March 2022 directly from a male dominated industry and working primarily with men, it was a big change for me. I don’t hope to say here in this post that any group or culture is better than another. Rather, I would like to highlight some of the changes and how they affected my own understanding of what it means to be part of a team. In life we will be faced with different types of work culture as our career journey takes us on different paths. It is always our choice to adapt, grow, change, or to recognize when it is time to move on to something that is a better fit. My current team has offered me learning opportunities and growth in collaboration, communication style, work-life balance and social support in the workplace. It has been wonderful to learn from these amazing women and I am excited to see where we go together!
When it comes to collaboration and communication, women rule the world. That sounds super great, right? Well, it also takes time and makes decisions happen at a slower pace. Some background on me. I am impatient and efficient by nature. I make quick decisions and marry that decision effortlessly in the name of forward momentum. It surprised me greatly that though I was tasked with finance, I was invited to participate in decisions that were primarily marketing or operations related. The discussions go long at times and decisions will get tabled for next week’s meeting. Pivoting can happen at a slower pace. This can be challenging when it comes to implementing changes in a timely manner. In a strong hierarchy where decisions stay with the person in command, feedback may be asked for and considered, but at the end of the day, an executive decision may be made, and everyone gets behind that decision.
This team of 5 women works and communicates a little differently. Discussions really bring forth honest thoughts and strong feelings about strategy and direction. It is a safe space to be honest. Disagreement will often be part of this! However, consideration is given to all viewpoints and the goal is consensus. Listening to and understanding each person’s concerns complicates and sometimes I felt “muddied” the clarity of the issue. Here is the lightbulb moment for me! Remember when I said everyone gets “behind” the executive decision? I learned that there is a payout in taking the time to address the concerns of everyone at the Round Table. I learned that listening and putting effort into understanding the way someone else sees an issue was just as important as speaking my thoughts. When we feel that we are part of the decision we don’t get “behind” we “align” in our shared decision. The commitment goes just a bit deeper. For everyone. And sometimes it’s just that level of commitment that is needed to push forward in some of our day-to-day mundane tasks and show up a little stronger for our team.
Work-life balance and social support is also something different when you belong to a team of women. You see, we have been multi-tasking forever as women. So we see the value in showing up WHOLE ready to be productive and the culture supports that. The alternative of keeping score to see how late someone is in the office is not how we roll. Some of us have babies, teenagers, adult children, spouses, attend university in attainment of higher degrees, pursue our health in exercise. There is a deep understanding here that in order for each of us to show up as our best selves and do our best work, that we must have the opportunity to care for ourselves and our loved ones first. Women get that. Period.
We also know that results are measured by how we perform as a collective and feel accountable to one another. That is the balance that motivates us to show up for each other every day, maybe with a baby on our lap while editing visual content, or bouncing around from different project locations. But we are in constant communication utilizing technology. How we look as a team changes from day to day as we adjust to the demands of our personal lives. But we show up for each other consistently in work and play. We celebrate milestones together and share what we do with our families on our down time. This week we will be celebrating the birthday milestone of our fearless Director of Operations. Happy Birthday, Shay!
We are not exclusive or stuck to being a team of women! We welcome diversity. It just so happens this is how we ended up. We were each organically drawn into new and growing business for our own different reasons, and I am sure that we will continue to grow and evolve. Our team will change over time but in the future, I do believe this core feminine culture will be foundational. Collaboration, open communication, work-life balance and social support. I have adjusted to this culture (quite happily) and am able to highlight some of the valuable things in my own experience that have come forth from being in a safe supportive environment, being heard by your team, sharing fun times and supporting one another. This has value for all teams because when you support the members of your team to be the highest version of themselves, you get the best of them as well.
This is dedicated to my Mom's sewing club, "The Rippers" who are life-long friends:
*They are all in their golden years and most were the original working moms at Hawaiian Telcom "back in the day".
If you’ve read our About Us page on the website, you may be familiar with the general story about how we came to run Kaka’ako Kasuals, the former Kam Kasuals. Instead of rehashing the same information about the “how” of the acquisition came about, I’d like to focus more on the “why” we wanted to run a business in the first place. I think that oftentimes, the “why” is far more important than the “how”, anyway.