Seven strategies for success when you’re not a member of the dominant group in your workplace.
1. Check Your Baggage
“Outsiders” must learn to check their baggage — their life experiences and those inherited from others.
Discrimination is a fact of life, but it’s not always present. The outsider must learn to assess whether someone is exhibiting blatant hostility or whether they are simply being insensitive due to ignorance.
When someone is ignorant, the outsider should approach them and let them know how the words or behavior were perceived.
2. Call Out the Cavalry
Networking, building relationships, and being mentored and coached are essentials for anyone to be successful. For the outsider, it may seem almost impossible, but the effort is worth it.
It is essential to develop relationships with people on many different levels within the organization.
Giving people the opportunity to discuss themselves gives the outsider the opportunity to learn what is important to them and to explore mutual interests. Finally, recognize that everyone has personal and professional issues that may cause concerns or problems.
By empathizing, a powerful connection can be established.
3. Accentuate the Positive
Outsiders must maximize their own value to the organization.
Emphasize strengths, both professional and personal. Outsiders should keep up on the latest trends in their fields, seek job assignments that are directly related to their organizations’ bottom line, help make their bosses look good and recognize their background as a potential strength.
4. Blow Your Horn
Marketing yourself is as important to your success as your accomplishments and performance.
Outsiders must let others know — without bragging — what they have done to contribute to the success of the organization.
It is helpful for outsiders to be able to describe themselves in less than a minute — their area of responsibility, a few words about their good fortune in meeting goals or initiatives of which they are in charge, convey their enthusiasm about the company and the support they have received and establish some kind of connection to the other person, if possible.
Getting someone else to talk about their achievements is also helpful.
5. Buy In, Don’t Sell Out
Everyone must adapt his or her behavior for different people and situations.
Outsiders must identify the corporate culture and adapt to it without turning their backs on their basic values or disrespecting their own culture.
6. Know Your Rights
If an outsider thinks he or she is being treated unfairly, the first step is to try and remedy the situation on his or her own.
If that fails, they can utilize the procedures put in place by the organization for such situations. If the outsider still feels he or she has been treated unfairly, take legal action or find another job.
7. Have a Vision
Achieving success means knowing where you want to go.
In order to reach that dream, it is important to set a series of milestones. The next milestone should be specific, realistic, depend upon actions taken, and have a time limit.