blog Current Events In The News Leadership Walking Leader

Leadership In The News: Dilemma in Kentucky or Start A Dialogue to Address Personal Biases In The Workplace

Here is the situation: There is this County Clerk from Rowan County, Kentucky. Where this person is from does not matter. What does matter is that this person wanted to do this job of County Clerk. She wanted to be a Public Servant. This person rallied for this position. This person wanted to do this job. I do not know if she was elected to the position or appointed to the position of County Clerk. Then again, how she acquired the position of County Clerk does not matter.

What does matter, is this one person, this individual wanted to serve the public. She wanted to serve in this County Government position. This means that as a County Clerk she is going to serve the citizens of the county. That is why her title is County Clerk. That is the position she wanted. I can guarantee that up until recently she bragged and boasted about how she serves the county and ALL its citizens. Brags about being a PUBLIC SERVANT. How do I know this? Who does not brag about having such a responsibility?

Then this issue of Same-Sex Marriage comes to the forefront of the news. Disclaimer, whatever your position is on that issue is of no concern to me. By the same token, I hope you have NO concern for what my stance is on that issue. That is not what I am talking about. What I am talking about is the individual that wants to be a PUBLIC SERVANT, chooses NOT to be a Public Servant, yet, wants to remain in that position and wants to keep doing that job. How can she or anyone else do their job effectively if they do not want to do it?

As Business Owner, Leader, Manager do you have someone that does not want to do their job because pumpkins are orange and refuse to do business with anyone that has anything to do with produce that are orange. Maybe they had some traumatic childhood experience with a pumpkin or whatever the reason, it does not matter.

What do you do? Do you get someone else to do the work when it comes to dealing with orange produce? Yeah. That is an idea.

In the case of the Kentucky County Clerk Office’s that was not happening. The County Clerk influenced others (especially Deputy County Clerks) in the County Clerk’s office to not allow them to do their job.

When I joined the US Army I took the oath of enlistment, I swore that I would defend the Constitution of the United States. All of it not the parts that I decide are worthy of defending. They all are worthy of defending. From the 1st Amendment (Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Religion) all the way to the very last one and every word in between.

I applaud that County Clerk for her convictions but at the same time, I guarantee that individual does not want the government interfering in the actions of her church. Now while you are performing a job on behalf of the government (local, state, or federal) you have to do your duty. That is what you signed up for, that is what you petitioned for, that is what you rallied for, and that is what you swore to do when you accepted that government job. You are to do the job the government has entrusted you to do.

Back to the Business Owners.

What happens when you somebody that does not want to “play ball”, someone who does not want to do what they need to do? As I previously mentioned, you get some who will do the job.

As a leader, what are you doing to prevent situations like this from happening at your place of business? You talk about the issues as they affect your business. Now, if you feel that this type of discussion may be on the verge of some kind of harassment then what do you do? Don’t have the conversation?

You have to have these conversations! If it is done in an appropriate manner and setting there should be no problem so long as the conversation is a dialogue with everyone in an open forum.

This issue must be addressed. It must be addressed in EVERY workplace. These matters affect everyone. They affect your business, your employees, clients, customers, vendors and every stakeholder.

Think about this: What if one of your vendors decides that because your organization’s colors are purple and yellow. He went to a high school whose colors were red and blue then uses that as an excuse not to serve you. It is the same principle as the situation in Kentucky, personal bias. Nothing more and definitely nothing less it is just personal bias. You call and complain about the vendor not serving you because your organizational colors are purple and yellow. He said that those colors belong to a rival high school. Guess what the owner is going to do? He is going to tell that individual to get out there and do what he was hired to do or he will find someone else to that will do it for him.

Now back to you as the Business Leader. What do you do?

You begin that dialogue, you work the situations out until you and your staff begins to feel comfortable about those issues and how to address them. Of course, there will be some people that say they will have no problem doing the job no matter the situation. Then the moment a situation occurs there will be someone that will have a problem doing what must be done. I guarantee it. How can I guarantee it? There always have been and there always will be weak individuals that when push comes to shove they will back down when it comes time to walk their talk.

Start your dialogue. Start it NOW!

Find out who is in and who is out. Know now how you and your team are going to handle any situation. Know who is going to be the backup when someone does not want to serve a certain type of customer. Realize, one day you are going to get a customer/client who speaks a language other than English, who is hearing impaired or visually impaired. You are going to get customers like that and the dialogue you are having with your staff is a great time to address these issues before they become huge problems. Remember, in business there is no such thing as a little problem.

Expect the unexpected but be prepared! Be prepared now by starting the conversation now!