|Away from Blame to "Play the Game": A Metaphor and Strategy for Successful Work Relationships between People of All Colors
This proposal will introduce participants to the research and strategic work model developed by the presenter. The model aims to give both so-called minority and majority students and employees a frame of reference from which to operate in the university and most importantly, the working community which may be predominantly white. The model enables students and employees to be more effective at "playing the game"; or succeeding in work and work relationships. The model employs a three-level process that makes an analogy between the family and the organization. The presenter will disclose examples of racially based work-related "undiscussable beliefs" collected from focus groups. The focus groups were comprised .white, black, and other minority group working adult MBA students as well as employees. These undiscussables, while not necessarily true, can create tensions, reduce teamwork effectiveness, stifle creativity and collectively slow progress and productivity in universities and non-academic organizations.
Undiscussable beliefs are those in the back of one's mind that remain unexpressed yet produce behavior not fully understood by those whom they influence. Such beliefs confirm the existence of "discovery zones" (information that would be helpful if known and understood) in the minds of many students and employees and they led the presenter to develop a model that may enable all employees of any color to increase significantly their effectiveness in relating to all other employees at work. Undiscussable beliefs reveal a connection between internalized oppression and people of color, and demonstrate how inhibiting the undiscussables may be to people of all colors. Specifically, many of the undiscussable beliefs held by minorities are of a nature that often limits the performance of the holder of such beliefs. If, for example, an employee of one race believes that every employee of a different race should not be trusted, then this can be performance-limiting to all the parties in certain work circumstances.
Participants will be introduced to the "Iron Bullet Theory" as a response to the well-known "Silver Bullet Theory". The Silver Bullet Theory, a general and widely accepted way of thinking that has infiltrated popular thought, holds that there is one super remedy for almost every problem. In reality, this is an illusion and therefore can be a barrier to universities and organizations seeking to be successful in initiating a variety of diversity programs. Many employees and managers currently attend diversity programs hoping to find one simple effective cure for a multitude of diversity problems. The Iron Bullet Theory explains how people of all colors can be deluded into thinking that diversity programs have failed because they have not found the super remedy or Silver Bullet. Failure to find a Silver Bullet has resulted in the frustration of many students, employees and managers, causing them to refrain from discussing or working to achieve university and organizational diversity goals with commitment and creativity.
The presentation will assist universities and non-academic organizations by offering strategies that can enable them to initiate discussions of the undiscussable and thereby make work progress never before imagined or attained. Participants will be asked to engage in group exercises that will produce ideas for creating successful work environments in which people of all colors may be more effective in working with and leading each other as they carry out individual, team or organizational goals.