Are Your Workers Arguing Over Politics? Here’s what to Do

The old axiom never to discuss politics and religion is good advice, especially in business.

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.

ID-10054899Here 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


Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.

Photo courtesy Stuart Miles at

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?

It’s great if your employees communicate with you. There are positive and negative ways.

If you have employees with whom who dread talking, chances are you have toxicity in your workplace.

If your employees whine instead of offering constructive ideas then you’ve got a problem.

Aimless complaining is a symptom of problems in teamwork, morale, negativity and/or productivity.

In some companies, it’s the proverbial tip of the iceberg.

However, you can do something about it.

Yes, you can encourage positive employee input without the drudgery of enduring a mere complaint session.


Here are six strategies:

1. Start with your behavior 

Be a good role model by being a positive example. Consider ways to best communicate with the team. Especially be careful when you’re having a bad-hair day like when you’re aggravated, overworked or stressed.

Think about your tone of voice and your body language.

Don’t use employees as a sounding board. If you need to vent, find a mentor or talk with someone outside of work.

2. Listen 

When an employee comes to you with a complaint, don’t react by simply dismissing it. Instead, respond. Think about what to say before you say it. Again, watch your tone of voice and body language.

Ask yourself if your employee is offering a bona fide suggestion or is merely complaining.

3. Stay objective 

Be careful with your biases. Don’t evaluate the employees’ comments based solely on your experiences.

If comments come from a person with a different gender, generation, intelligence level, race or background than yours, be empathetic and unbiased.

Often, the best input comes from people who are totally unlike you.

4. Persuade employees to come to you as a first resort

If your employees won’t come to you first, it might be because they don’t feel safe. You want them to come to you first before they start gossiping or creating morale issues among your staff.

The key is to advance or encourage trust in your workplace. If you’re asked to keep something confidential, honor the request if you can.

But there are times you can’t. Be a friendly manager not a buddy to your staff.

That also means not trying to solve the problem right away, if you need more time to evaluate a situation.

5. Coach your employees individually

To promote positive criticism not mere whining, schedule a time for coaching each offending worker in a confidential session. Use a pancake sandwich approach – two positives, a negative and then a positive.

Give the employee two strokes, diplomatically explain what you want from their communication and end the discussion with another stroke.

Make a note documenting the session and put it in the employee’s file.

6. Know when to say no

If you’ve done all these things and you still have an employee who doesn’t get it and repeatedly whines, it might be time to try one of two different approaches.

One, don’t threaten or bluff the employee, ask if a change in employers would work better.

Or, two, know that you might have to lay the groundwork for replacing the person.

The bottom-line: At all times, be empathetic as possible but keep in mind the welfare of your company.

From the Coach’s Corner, here are related management tips:

10 Management Attributes for Effective Communication — Communication skills are critical for managers. People with enhanced abilities in communication typically have successful relationships at work and home. Good communicators typically have 10 attributes.

Secrets in Motivating Employees to Offer Profitable Ideas — Savvy employers know how to profit from their human capital. Such knowledge is a powerful weapon for high performance in a competitive marketplace. Furthermore, there’s a correlation among excellent sales, happy customers, and high employee morale. Proverbially speaking, employees are where the tire meets the road.

Management: How to Help Employees to Grow Professionally — Managers owe it to the organization to help their employees grow professionally. It’s hard, time-consuming work. But the return on investment is terrific. The organization benefits from higher employee performance and lower turnover. Strong employee retention obviously saves the employer a lot of time and money.

Management — 4 Mindsets for Leadership in Performance Reviews — Are you nervous at the thought of giving employee-performance reviews? You’re not alone. Your employees aren’t exactly thrilled, either. Typically, employees aren’t convinced they can get valid feedback. If they’ve experienced poor managers, they likely dread the performance-review process or are skeptical of the outcome.

HR Management: Think Like a Sales Pro to Recruit the Best Talent — One-size-fits-all approach to recruiting employees is not a strategy. You and your peers in human resources might be enamored with technology, but job candidates want more focus on the personal touch. That necessitates thinking like a sales professional.

“Good management is the art of making problems so interesting and their solutions so constructive that everyone wants to get to work and deal with them.”

-Paul Hawken


Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry. 

Seattle business consultant Terry Corbell provides high-performance management services and strategies.