Sometimes, events in the news make your employees cry at work. This is a problem because when your employees come to work, you expect them to work and keep their personal lives on the outside. The reality is that it is not always possible.
All over the United States news reports are talking about the death of twelve-year-old Tamir Rice. The news reports are talking about how he was shot by police while at a neighborhood playground. The reports will detail how a grand jury, at a prosecutors urging, declined to indict the police officer involved. People outside your business are talking about this. Some of the people talking think that justice was served. They think the police officer did nothing wrong and that the twelve-year-old deserved to die. Others, many of whom are mothers like myself, are saddened, they feel despair and they are very afraid for their children, children in their families, friends children and even the children of strangers.
Some of the mothers who work at your business have sons of their own. The may even have sons like mine, twelve-year-old boys who are smart, charming and intelligent. They may have boys who like to play with toy guns at the neighborhood playground. They may even have sons like mine, who do not always do what they are told the first time around. They may have sons who have to be told the same thing more once or twice before they do it. These are the boys who you tell to do their homework, clean their room, do their chores, stop teasing their sisters two or three times before these things actually get done. Under most circumstances, these boys are thought of as normal every day boys.
However, on days like today, if your employees are like me, mothers of black boys, they are terrified. These mothers are terrified because a black boy died, actually died, (if you believe the police version of the story) because he did not put his toy away the first time he was told. Your employees who are mothers like me who have told their sons three times to get their stinky socks and sneakers out of the living room, know that twelve-year-old boys don’t always listen the first time around. If you have employees who are mothers like me, they know that if they shot their sons every time they had to tell them something more than once or even more than twice, there would be no sons left in the neighborhood. Mothers like me are really afraid today. As a business owner and employer, you must know and recognize this because sometimes the news makes your employees cry.
Mothers like me are afraid and we are hugging our sons extra tight today. We are nervous when they ask to go to the playground with their friends. We are afraid when our sons ask to go down the street to play with their friends. We are nervous because we live in America, and you never know when your son will be a news story. If you are the mother of a black boy in America, you never know when a trip to the playground will become a trip to the morgue. If you are the mother of a black boy in America, you never know when a play date with friends will become
a police shooting. If you are the mother of a black boy in America, you never know when you will be the mother of a child killed by police. Sometimes the news makes your employees cry.
Your employees, before anything else, are people. No matter what your business is, no matter what you do for customers and clients, you still do it with employees who are people. Employees are more than merely cogs or widgets in your business. Employees are people. When you employ people and not just machines, you must deal with emotions, fears and even tears on occasion. When you employ people, you have to accept the fact that every day is not a business as usual day. Some days are special days that require employers to be compassionate, understanding and more tolerant of their employees being human beings with children, fears and worries. As an employer, you have to realize that sometimes the news makes your employees cry.
All this information is important for you as a business owner, because this is what some of your employees are dealing with when they come to work today. Some of your employees spent yesterday alternating between tears and telling their sons to be careful, to do things the first time they are told. Today these employees are tired, they are scared and they are mad. You may notice that they make a lot of personal calls today. They will be checking to see if their sons are dead or alive. They will be frantically calling to check on their sons. They will be a little more nervous than usual. The may be holding back tears and feel on edge. Some of your employees may be scared, angry or fearful. This is normal and to be expected because sometimes the news makes your employees cry.
As a business owner, an employer there are several ways you can handle this. You can decide that what is happening on the outside of your business has nothing to do with your business and if you do not want the outside world to have any impact at all on your business. If you take this approach, you will not allow your employees to make those extra personal calls home to check on their sons. You will not tolerate tears, nervousness or lack of perfect decorum. You will insist that all your employees act as if everything is fine and have perfect business behavior. You will state and truly believe that no matter what, the show aka your business must go on. You will not care that sometimes the news makes your employees cry.
If you are a business owner and employer who understands that sometimes the news makes your employees cry you will do things a little differently today. You will allow the extra calls home and you will show understanding and compassion to your employees who may be scared, nervous and terrified for their children today. This means you may have to let some things slide that you normally would not. You will do this because you have compassion and you know that employees are not machines. Employees are people with feelings, fears and lives outside your business that cannot always be ignored. Sometimes the news makes your employees cry.
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