Bradley Hartmann is El Presidente of Red Angle (www.redanglespanish.com), a Spanish language training firm focused exclusively on the construcción industry. Hartmann has been successful improving Safety, Productivity and Profitability by speaking Spanish on the jobsite. Hartmann lived in Guadalajara, México during his undergraduate studies and later earned his MBA. Hartmann also teaches Construction Spanish at Purdue University’s Building Construction Management Program. He has authored 2 books - Spanish Twins: Start Speaking Spanish on the Construction Site with Words You Already Know and Safety Spanish: Simple Spanish Skills for Solving Safety Problems. Hartmann would love to hear your thoughts digitally at email@example.com or verbally at 630.234.7321.
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?
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.
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.