Black People : Race Matters in the Workplace ...

N2urSoul

Well-Known Member
MEMBER
Mar 17, 2001
3,955
1
Minneapolis, MN
Occupation
Director, Community Employment Strategies
Hello fam ....

I need some help with a work related situation. I will provide some background in order to best receive some advise ....

In my position as Chief Operating Officer (COO), and as an African American female - I currently; directly supervise two Caucasion Program Directors and two African American Program Directors ....all of which have been with the company for at least 5 years (and up).

One of the mature"er" caucasion Directors now supervises a staff of 85% African Americans at one location. Recently I have rec'd several complaints in the way that this Director has been communicating and interacting with some of the African American staff in a derrogatory fashion. Staff point to issues of: belittling, demeaning, being talked down to, being talked to like a chile, intimidation, degrading and disrespectful communication from this Director.

Before the Director was promoted, I had shared a conversation laying out my concerns of ensuring that she could in fact build/strengthen positive working relationships with staff, being effective, growing and developing staff, and connecting appropriately with a degree of hyper sensitivity to where she worked and the population of staff/clients that we serve.... however, it appears as though she has not been able to keep to that earlier discussion for one reason or another, and the under tones of "race" and/or cultural dynamics is showing up.

I am planning a meeting with her Friday and would like some feedback on how to go at this disucssion "head on" ... unfortunately, I feel like when "Race Matters" enter into a conversation from an African American to a Caucasion person, they shut down and/or clam up .... instead of opening up and addressing potential issues that they might have.... especially when they don't believe they are coming across in a belittling/degrading fashion with others....

Does anyone have any suggestions?

N2
 

pfa1451usa

Well-Known Member
MEMBER
Jan 23, 2006
139
1
N2...for your consideration...

Ask her the following and proceed as you feel comfortable:

1. "In your estimation how do you feel your performance has enhanced the productivity of the staff and encouraged participation in the workplace?";

2. Listen and take notes for as long as it takes...;

3. When she is finished..."Based on your own self-evaluation, if you were in my position, what would you do?"

She will be either be honest and reach out for help or you will realize, as will she, it is simply not working out...good luck
 

kemetkind

Well-Known Member
MEMBER
Oct 8, 2005
1,599
64
I concur with pfa's advice but I would add, emphatically, Race shouldn't enter the discussion at all...if she brings it up don't go there, just focus on her performance as a director....I've seen that trap few times before. Even if you're in an "Employment-at-Will" state you'd still have more HR headaches when it comes time for her pink slip.
 

Destee

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Jan 22, 2001
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N2urSoul said:
Hello fam ....

I need some help with a work related situation. I will provide some background in order to best receive some advise ....

In my position as Chief Operating Officer (COO), and as an African American female - I currently; directly supervise two Caucasion Program Directors and two African American Program Directors ....all of which have been with the company for at least 5 years (and up).

One of the mature"er" caucasion Directors now supervises a staff of 85% African Americans at one location. Recently I have rec'd several complaints in the way that this Director has been communicating and interacting with some of the African American staff in a derrogatory fashion. Staff point to issues of: belittling, demeaning, being talked down to, being talked to like a chile, intimidation, degrading and disrespectful communication from this Director.

Before the Director was promoted, I had shared a conversation laying out my concerns of ensuring that she could in fact build/strengthen positive working relationships with staff, being effective, growing and developing staff, and connecting appropriately with a degree of hyper sensitivity to where she worked and the population of staff/clients that we serve.... however, it appears as though she has not been able to keep to that earlier discussion for one reason or another, and the under tones of "race" and/or cultural dynamics is showing up.

I am planning a meeting with her Friday and would like some feedback on how to go at this disucssion "head on" ... unfortunately, I feel like when "Race Matters" enter into a conversation from an African American to a Caucasion person, they shut down and/or clam up .... instead of opening up and addressing potential issues that they might have.... especially when they don't believe they are coming across in a belittling/degrading fashion with others....

Does anyone have any suggestions?

N2

Hi Sister N2urSoul !!!! :love:

So good to see you in the house Sister, and to be reading you too ... oh man ... this is heaven! :)

Sister N2 ... i'd agree with those before me, don't let race enter the conversation, unless she presents it of course ... and even then, you may not want to comment on it.

It seems to be pretty straightforward, in that she's not managing in the manner you'd like. Race doesn't have to come in, as all people, regardless of race deserve to be treated (managed) properly.

If she were working with a majority of white folk, and you rec'd these same complaints, would race be the issue?

I've never been responsible for managing a bunch of white people, and probably not a whole bunch of Black Folk have, compared to the numbers of them managing us. With this in mind, they (white folk who allow such situations to exist) have already anticipated a different kind of "race issue" could present itself in these types of situations.

The different kind of race issue is simply the reverse of what they've always seen, the white person complaining that the Black manager is mistreating them. You can probably anticipate this white manager going to your superiors after you speak with her. They don't take to well, in general, with Black folk being over them. They always have to confirm that what you've said to them, is in fact the way it is. They must go to a white person to do this, your superiors, so expect that.

Corporate america is well aware of the Black person complaining that the white person is mistreating them. What this manager is doing, is really par for the course. They would laugh and talk about such situations amongst themselves, white higher management, but would never do so with you present.

Enter Sister N2urSoul, intelligent, articulate, educated, poised, beautiful, and qualified! :) You're the critical and different piece in this puzzle. They have given you the ability to manage white folk, and it is you (your actions) that will be most scrutinized. Not that white person who is doing what white people have always done.

If you were white, and dealing with a Black manager, over white people ... you would probably have already had several jesting conversations in private with your white peers about this Black manager. You would have been given some extra, under the table, what can't be detected on the discrimination radar screen, on how to proceed with firing this Black manager. You'd have full support of your superiors regarding the move forward in dealing with this. But you are not white, and will not be made privy to such discussions. You're left to do the best you can with what you have.

With this in mind, i'd suggest that you focus solely on their management skills, or lack thereof. As i said above, it really makes no difference who the manager is managing. The bottomline is if they are doing it effectively, efficiently, professionally, etc.

As a former manager of this community, one of our first ever, i'm confident that you'll handle the situation in the best of manners. Please let us know how it goes ... and take all i said with a grain of salt ... as i have never managed no whole bunch of white folk!

I Love You Sister! :kiss:

:heart:

Destee
 

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