Everybody habla English on payday…

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People who utter the offensive statement, “Everybody speaks English on payday!” are the same ones who make zero attempt to build any relationships with Spanish-speakers on the jobsite.


That is, leaders who in no way lead Hispanics on the jobsite.


At best it’s silent coexistence.

At worst it’s racism.

Either way, it’s far from leadership.


Everybody speaks English on payday! belies a pair of assumptions about Hispanics.



The first is that Spanish-speakers aren’t willing to learn any English unless it’s tied directly to making money.

I haven’t found this to be true, but if so – it’s common sense.




When studying a foreign language, you learn the important stuff first.

It’s why students in high school Spanish all learn swear words first.

And it’s why all American adults know cerveza and baño.



Spanish-speakers who learn financial terms & numbers aren’t conniving.

They’re surviving.


Furthermore, if you know anything at all about America’s history with Hispanic labor, well, they ought to be a little gun shy when it comes to their paycheck.


The second implication is Spanish-speakers know English, but they pretend not to in order to avoid interacting with English-speakers on the job.


And there is some truth to that.

That happens.


But then again, I’ve pretended not to know English in order to avoid interacting with English-speaking managers on the job….



Well, here we are in October.

It’s the fourth quarter.






It’s where bonuses and raises are secured… and lost.


So instead of being the smartass manager who says, “Everybody speaks English on payday!” why not be the smart leader who gets everyone involved in ensuring a profitable Q4?



Do you have profit goals for the end of the year?

Share them with everyone on the job who can help you achieve them – English and Spanish-speakers alike.



No, you’re not going to tell everyone bilingually about the new Escalade you’ll buy with your bonus, but you should share some financial info with them.




Sharing financial information conveys trust.

Even if it’s only a few small, hand-selected pieces of financial info, do it.


If you’re unsure how to initiate this, buy a used copy of The Great Game of Business by Jack Stack and Bo Burlingham for $0.75.




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The best, most efficient, most profitable way to operate a business is to give everybody in the company a voice in saying how the company is run and a stake in the financial outcome, good or bad.” – Jack Stack



You may not start out agreeing with Jack, but take some bebé steps and see what happens.

Trust me, you’ll get your money back on your three quarters….


So instead of assuming Spanish-speakers think about money only on payday, make sure they’re thinking about it every day.




Bradley Hartmann is founder and El Presidente at Red Angle (www.redanglespanish.com), a training, consulting and eLearning firm bridging the English-Spanish language gap in the construction industry.

Categories: Construction Spanish, Jobsite Leadership

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