I've been reading articles about Starbucks' anti-bias training that resulted in the company closing stores for four hours to train their team members. By all accounts, the training was emotional, had great depth and resulted in tears and exhaustion. Tackling something like racial bias on a corporate level is tough!
What happened at Starbucks was terrible. Is one employee's behavior indicative of an entire company's attitude? I don't think so. However, good for Starbucks to siege the opportunity to challenge, train and develop their employees. Not just as workers, but as people. Prejudice exists, empathy is hard, and companies can play active roles in evolving society.
Change in behavior is really tough. Change in thought process is incredibly challenging. Will it make an impact? It will on some. And all we can do as corporate leaders is hope to make an impact where and when you can.
As your company grows, you will realize that after every training or teaching, everyone won't "get it." It's impossible with a big company and super hard with a small company.
As a leader, the challenge is realizing that change in a growing company is sometimes based on baby steps. Getting one, two, 10 people to grow, learn and move. And then it creates a wave, leading to a rising tide that lifts all boats.
Every challenge you face won't be like anti-bias training. In fact, probably nothing will be as hard a topic as what Starbucks has done. However, every time you focus on change, realize it takes time. And if you as a leader are committed, don't get discouraged. Your people want to believe in you. They want to follow you.
The simple fact is that most plans of action fall flat because something more urgent comes along and the messaging gets lost. When the topic is big, meaty and serious, make an ongoing plan and involve your team.
Together changes can be made. And while uncomfortable and exhausting, it's well worth it. Very few accomplishments that are rewarding ever came without hard work.
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