The old axiom never to discuss politics and religion is good advice, especially in the workplace.
More so since the Great Recession in 2008 – on all sides of the political spectrum— many workers have been frustrated. Many are angry.
Social media and the news media aren’t helping. Politics is the salient topic each day. In fact, the cable news networks are experiencing higher ratings as a result.
Worse, employees are bringing the hot-potato discussions to your water coolers. It will only get worse. If left unchecked, political discussions can kill your culture and employee morale.
Furthermore, appearances count. Any appearance of management taking sides should be avoided.
Here are seven recommendations:
1. Consider policies
You can impose policies banning political discussions and materials and clothing; caps or shirts in your business.
You’ll minimize the prospect of alienating your employees, customers and vendors.
2. Avoid making political comments
Set the tone. You’ll be better off if you avoid endorsing candidates or political parties. Otherwise, you’ll invite divisive political arguments.
If employees insist on obsessively arguing about politics, it will serve as a red flag to you. Other issues will crop up, too.
Some of my most valued associates are politically opposite from me. We avoid political discussions.
Personally years ago, I immensely enjoyed the relationship with three authoritative mentors. At no time, did we ever discuss politics, which meant we maximized our time.
3. Review your policies
Evaluate your company policies. Rewrite any policies related to politics.
Communicate your policies. Remind employees about what’s acceptable and what isn’t.
Stress productivity and efficiency.
4. Counsel your Centers of Influence
Be certain to talk with your managers and supervisors about your policy. You’ll want them to reinforce the matter.
If necessary, train your key staff members in how to deal with political discussions and conflict.
5. Stress detachment
Don’t open political doors. In their interactions, your managers should never inquire about employees’ political beliefs.
Obviously, managers should not try to influence their employees.
6. Advocate team respect
Despite your best efforts, politics will rear its ugly head. Employees will make their opinions known. Everyone should respect others’ political beliefs.
7. Act quickly
As in any violation of company policies, respond fast to any complaints. Keep the focus on principles, not personalities.
In other words, address behavior but not someone’s political preferences.
From the Coach’s Corner, here are editor’s picks for management strategies:
Workplace Bullying – Tips for Victims and Bosses — Workplace issues include bullying. It’s a widespread problem for employers and employees, alike. Here are valuable tips for both employers and workplace victims.
Legal HR Issues? Best Practices in Workplace Investigations — As an employer, one of your biggest nightmares can be issues involving your employees. There can be many reasons to conduct an investigation. “Action expresses priorities,” said Mohandas Gandhi. So you should act quickly.
7 Tactics to Enjoy Your Job Managing Difficult Employees — With a difficult employee, you have two obvious problems – the impacts on your organization and the behavior of the individual. Here’s how to love your job even when managing difficult employees.
Effectively Manage ADA Issues in Your Facilities and HR — Disabled persons have had both valid and invalid complaints about the workplace. Such complaints concern your facilities and human resources program. Here are strategies to consider implementing.
6 Tips to Get Good Employee Ideas, not Whining — Do you have employees who contribute positive ideas? Or do you have employees who always seem to whine? Aimless complaining is a symptom of problems in teamwork, morale, negativity and/or productivity. Here are six management strategies.
7 HR Insights to Quickly Improve Your Company — In this apparent age of ageism, many employers mistakenly prioritize by hiring Millennials. Their reasons might seem valid, but things aren’t always as they seem.
5 Quick Management Tips to Motivate Your Employees — A major quandary for managers is to bring out the best in their employees. Every manager wants to do it, but it’s not always easy. What’s the reason? Usually, it’s because employees are disengaged – disconnected from their managers and companies. Here’s how to fix it.
“The real death of America will come when everyone is alike.”
-James T. Ellison