"Gloria" is young, fresh out of a prestigious MBA program, and full of enthusiasm. She is smart as a whip, with a mind that is quick to grasp the basics, and makes leaps of innovation. She has met or exceeded every expectation so far.
The first in her family to graduate college, she is the descendent of a slave from Georgia and a Cherokee native, whose mother died on the Trail of Tears. Her grandparents marched with Dr. King and her parents founded the Black Chamber of Commerce in your city.
You've heard Gloria might be gay. If it turns out she has any special needs, that would make her a member of almost every protected class you can think of.
Today, she told you she wants you to mentor her.
And why wouldn't you? If you could be significantly influential in this young professional's life, sharing the lessons you have learned, shaping the beginning years of what will likely be a stellar career, why would you not?
Does working closely with someone in a protected class leave you feeling unprotected? Even defensive?
In the world of human resources, the very term "protected class" can imply vulnerability...why else "protect?" But the HR approach to these groups of individuals is often designed as much, or more, to protect the organization from lawsuit, as it is to protect the individual from covert bias and oppression. In the end, everyone is left feeling vulnerable and defensive about their roles in what has been constructed as a fragile relationship. Then, nobody feels protected and true potential may be wasted, simply out of fear.
Managers, leaders, and team members with healthy interpersonal boundaries have no concerns in this arena. With Independence on board, as one of the 7 Facets of Team Success, the fragility of workplace relationships--plagued by misunderstood dos and don'ts from the EEO policy--is replaced with clear communication and mutual respect. Instead of following rules, team members learn to follow each other.
The foundational principle of Independence as a Facet of Team Success is that each of us is a unique being with a unique story of the world. We deserve relationships at work in which each of us is enthusiastically discovering the other's story while expressing our own. The Team Facet of Independence invokes curiosity, to replace certainty about each other based on labels and learned biases. Independence creates a continuous need for communication and clarity, for seeking understanding, and therefore, for really listening to each other.
Only with these kinds of interpersonal boundaries and communication can we truly protect the value in each individual in the organization. Only then will we be able to optimize the full potential of each associate.
So, say yes to Gloria, and then say yes to my Team 911 Lunch and Learn session, to find out whether more Independence in your team will bring more success to your organization. (Can be delivered via distance technology, using a Zoom classroom.)
I begin a national speaking tour this winter, bringing my groundbreaking approach into your community. Contact me now about booking a session in 2019!