Best Practices for Politics in the Workplace

Jun 28

...from the manager’s position and perspective

Some helpful pointers for when politics heat up around you. How using positive political action can draw your team closer.

In this post we’ll go over:
A Few Pointers to Start
Some reasons for caution
Connecting with others in the workplace
How to Engage

A Few Pointers to Start

Establish boundaries from the get-go as manager. Host training sessions on showing respect to fellow teammates. When hosting these training sessions, we caution you to avoid focusing directly on politics which can have the effect of fueling a political fire.

It can be tough to distinguish between harassment and opinion with politics, so be sure to have your HR consultant always on your favorites list for work. You do not want to make something out of nothing, and not vice versa, either.

Caution

Do not discuss your personal politics at work or on social media. Your coworkers and subordinates can see your Facebook posts and tweets. Discussing your opinions openly as “leader” can lead to feelings of favoritism, intimidation, and harassment. Set the example and stay hush.

Have an office or break room tv? Keep political programs off the air. It’s too easy a situation for a foreman to walk in and mumble something to the clerk, for example.

As the manager, it is your role and responsibility to direct conversations for the good of all. Stay clear of political small talk and stay neutral.

Consider banning visual political displays in the office. Buttons, stickers, posters and pictures are all fine and dandy until harassment starts taking place. Just don’t.
I VOTED stickers

Connecting with Others in the Workplace

Nourish your employer-employee relationships. What does this look like?

Look past the closest parts of your team and get to know co-workers, other managers, and executives. Instead of being afraid of “higher ups”, get to know them and build solid working relationships that aren’t built on flattery and fluff.

As manager, it is important to be friendly and relatable to all, but be cautious about identifying yourself with one political group or another. No matter what, do not breach confidentiality, and avoid political suggestions and influencing. Both can lead to division in the workplace.

How to Engage

Always always always remain professional. Do not pick sides or allow yourself to get sucked into arguments. Remember too that resolving conflict doesn’t always mean there has to be a winner and a loser. It is enough to find a solution where both parties feel they’ve been heard and can agree to disagree peaceably.

When you are speaking on your own accord, be sure to remain assertive, but never aggressive. Your employees want to feel encouraged and that their workplace is a safe space. They do not want to come to work intimidated out of fear by you, but rather, ready to listen and serve out of respect for you.

Note:

If you find yourself working in a particularly "toxic" atmosphere, check out this article, Working in a Highly Political Organization .


Here's to your organization thriving!

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