Management 101: Dealing with Politics in the Workplace

Politics can be a tricky subject and are often one of those subjects that people choose to keep off limits. As a manager, you probably know that some subjects can cause tension and reduce productivity. Politics are one of those subjects. Not only may employees spend the day trying to prove which candidate is best, but they may begin to argue and neglect their duties. You may even find that some team members are unable to work together because of their differing views. Here are just a few tips for dealing with politics in the workplace.

Create a Policy About Discussing Politics

First things first. You should create a policy that forbids the discussion of politics. You may think this sounds a bit extreme, but an ounce of prevention can go a long way. The policy may state that workers are forbidden from discussing any aspect of the campaign. You should also implement a punishment for breaking the policy. For example, the first offense may be a warning and the second offense a day off from work without pay.

Have a Meeting with Employees

One you’ve created a policy and decided on the punishment, you need to have a meeting with your employees to discuss the new policy. This is a good time for your employees to ask questions and have their voice heard. However, it is important to stick to your guns and explain that this type of workplace discussion will not be accepted.

Follow Through

Chances are there will be at least one employee who doesn’t want to follow the rules. You must act quickly and have a meeting with the employee to discuss his behavior and why it is not acceptable. This will serve as a warning. Unfortunately, many will not take your warning seriously. This means you will need to follow through and send him home for the day. The good news is this will serve as an warning to other employees that you are serious.

Politics are a nasty subject that can lead to arguments. While we all have different opinions, that doesn’t mean we should openly talk about them at work. Creating a policy that outlines your stand on the discussion of politics and meeting with your employees are the first steps. However, you must follow through by enforcing the policy. Otherwise, your employees will ignore your policy and continue their discussions on the campaign.

About the Author: Shala Bortle used to managed a large team of people with varied political beliefs and had to ban political propaganda from the workplace. She now uses virtual office space – the perfect solution for working with a team of individuals who don’t really need to be in the same office building!