3 Ways To Embrace Politics at Work: A Guide for Women In Leadership

Politics in the workplace is an unfortunate yet inevitable aspect in office life. Throw national political views into this mix and you’ve got a high-tension workplace that can tip over into something much more dangerous.According to a survey done by Clutch, about 31 percent of employees stated that their productivity levels were lowered due to political expression at work.The American Psychological Association also published a poll that showed 57 percent of Americans stated that today’s political climate was a major cause of stress.[bctt tweet=“How To Embrace Politics In Workplace Without Stress” username=“takeleadwomen”]The problem can be expounded by the fact that unfortunately in some arenas at times women can be labelled as stereotypically over-emotional. With a topic like politics, everyone’s emotions — for men and women—are likely to run high.However, it is sadly true that in some workplaces, discussions quickly become gendered, as a man can react without a label while a woman with the same reaction is often perceived as being too emotional.In order to maintain team morale and maintain your image as a fair leader in the midst of a divisive political climate, here are three suggestions for embracing politics in the workplace.Some companies have the bandwidth and ability to impose limits on discussions of a political nature, but is that really the best way to tackle this problem? By creating a ban on any political discussions, you foster a culture of monitoring, finger-pointing and micromanagement.Freedom of expression and the ability to speak your mind is a culture that leaders in workplaces strive to achieve, and employees will respect their leadership for maintaining.Considering this, you can’t ask your employees to avoid discussions of this nature when they enter the office. Politics is a major part of our daily lives because it impacts our beliefs and values, regardless of what view you support.Some strategies you can utilize include calling out disrespect in the moment, and addressing your role as  a leader in the workplace engaging in the discussion.

  1. Find Common Ground

Political events that are constantly being covered  in the media are bound to set people off on their own directions. Great examples of these are the political protests in the NFL during the national anthem or the net neutrality issues in the U.S.While these sort of events and issues can divide people into different camps, there are also plenty of unifying events that can bring people together, regardless of political perspective.2. Promote Opportunities for Learning, Not ArguingNot all political discussions are harmful. You can have a discussion regarding political views but still be constructive.  From a “glass-half-full” perspective, this gives you an opportunity to interact with people who have differing views from you.[bctt tweet=“As #womeninleadership, guide the political discussions with inclusion and fairness.” username=“takeleadwomen”]It’s easy to form exclusive groups within the office based on political views, and that can be devastating to work culture. Instead, try to encourage discussions on political views if possible, but make sure that they’re being respectful of differing views. Keep in mind that these discussions should be left out of employee performance reviews, which are a time meant exclusively for providing feedback and strategies for improvement.Remind employees that the goal isn’t to force the other person to acknowledge or agree with other points of view; it’s about keeping an open dialogue and to maintain awareness on all possible viewpoints. Learning how to talk about politics in a constructive and inquisitive manner can improve other areas of work, especially difficult work-related subjects like reviews, feedback and salary negotiations.

  1. Implement a Social Media Policy

Social media is so ingrained into our daily lives that it could be difficult to handle, especially if people perceive any policy as a way of stifling their rights to speech. According to recent Pew research, social media has also become a main outlet for people to derive their political news. Therefore, browsing social feeds during work will usually slow down productivity and increase the chances of heated discussions regarding political views.By deploying a company-wide social media policy that minimizes that usage and consumption of social media during work hours, it can keep employees more focused on the task at hand. You can also include reminders that the comments they make on social media can reflect on the company or organization that they work for.There are many ways that politics can harm a company’s work culture or environment, but it’s a problem that has to be handled. Using these tips can help create an inclusive workplace culture so political views do not end up tearing your office apart.