The beautiful curved pavers led me to the front door, past the unbelievable fire pit patio.
The product was impressive.
The installation even more so.
This landscaping company did more than mow lawns and whack weeds.
These guys were designers too. True professionals. Artists.
Then I entered the front door and walked to the front desk.
No one was there.
I noticed a sign laminated to the formica top, I read it.
PLEASE THROW ALL GARBAGE IN THE DUMPSTER, NOT THE PARKING LOT. ANY EMPLOYEE FOUND THROWING GARBAGE IN THE PARKING LOT WILL BE FIRED IMMEDIATELY.
TO ALL FOREMEN AND CONSTRUCTION LABORERS:
THIS IS TO INFORM YOU THAT YOU SHOULD RETURN ALL UNIFORMS OR YOU WILL NOT RECEIVE YOUR NEXT CHECK.
– THE MANAGEMENT
A bit aggressive, no?
Maybe this place wasn’t as classy as I thought.
If this is the signage that greets customers, what on the God’s green-side-up earth happens behind closed doors?
Do they not know about Stephen Covey’s Emotional Bank Account metaphor?
This message is one big emo withdrawal.
Funds are now low.
Are they unaware you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar?
This message aint sweet at all.
No flies for you.
And what type of landscape uniforms are they providing anyway?
After a decent day’s work, most landscape uniforms should be lit on fire lest they destroy the washing machine.
Needless to say, the signage had me questioning the company.
And not in a good way.
But I’m probably the rare exception.
Most visitors probably don’t even notice the signage.
Most never read it.
How do I know?
It’s in Spanish.
Do I think that company would ever post that sign in English?
To be fair, I only spent a few minutes in their office.
I may be too judgmental.
Maybe I’m reading too much into this?
Maybe this iron-fisted hoja de papel masks a shining beacon of corporate culture based on diversity and inclusion.
Maybe…. How do I know?
I’m sensitive to this because it happens so often on our jobsites.
We ignore workers contributing to the site because they speak another language.
We attempt to communicate only when there are problems.
We quickly assign blame to those who cannot defend themselves.
We threaten to withhold checks if someone accidentally wears a filthy landscaping uniform home at night.
I could be way off base here.
Maybe there is some harrowing origin story that reveals the need for the angry front desk signage en Español.
What I do know is that very few companies would post something like that in English for all their customers to read.
Consider how you treat people.
If you’re a leader, your effectiveness will be determined by what others do on your behalf.
If you only lead English-speakers – missing out on the Spanish-speakers you’re ignoring or demeaning – your effectiveness will only be half.
Bradley Hartmann is founder and El Presidente at Red Angle (www.redanglespanish.com), a training and consulting firm bridging the English-Spanish (and a bit of Polish…) language gap in the construction industry.
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Categories: Jobsite Leadership