How to Lead Your Team During a Heated Election Season
Content was originally published on Inc.com on October 16, 2018.
When it comes to owning a business, managing employees is one of the most difficult aspects of the job. A great deal of your time and energy is spent developing a positive company culture and connecting with and coaching your key staff members. A lot of hard work goes into creating a nurturing work environment that promotes growth within the company. That is, until November rolls around. No matter what side of the aisle you personally sit on, chances are the political turmoil of an election season is bound to cause some interpersonal issues among your staff members. So what is a leader to do to help guide employees through a particularly tumultuous election season?
Here are my four tips for coaching your staff through an election year.
As a leader, it’s beneficial to hire people of different backgrounds. The benefit of hiring people with different backgrounds and experience sets from your own is that you’ll be bringing new and various ways of thinking to your company. Having a table full of people who each approach solving problems differently means your problems have a higher chance of getting solved, because you are less likely to approach them from the same angle every time. This is important when it comes to setting your team up for success.
Having a diverse workforce could, however, cause some tension during an election year. So it is important to focus on your core culture, as in: no drama, working as a team and helping customers, or creating a high-quality end product.
During a particularly stressful time, remember to celebrate the victories together. Acknowledge growth and excellent teamwork, and share them companywide during team meetings or via email.
Do you find yourself stressed out over the upcoming election? This is a great time to model the behavior you want your employees to adopt. How you act when the stakes are high says a lot about you as a leader and about the business.
How you react to stress leaves a magnified impression on your team, customers, vendors, and investors. So being on your best behavior during an election season is crucial for teaching the rest of your team about integrity and acceptable stress management.
3. Coach your key employees through fear, doubt, and procrastination.
During times of high stress, you may find your employees struggling with procrastination and delaying key decisions. As a leader, take the time to work with your staff to help them break through these delays by creating a smaller, manageable task list. If you create a quarterly action plan in October, for example, early November is a great time to touch base on your staff’s progress and help work through any decision delays that they may be experiencing.
4. Give them space and time to vote.
If possible, give your staff several hours off to go vote, perhaps even an afternoon off. The decision is one that has been weighing heavily on their minds for some time now, and offering them the opportunity to stand in line without fear of workplace repercussions or lost wages goes a long way toward showing your staff that you respect their right to vote and want to give them time to process outside of the workplace.
Last but not least, keep your political preferences to yourself at the office. As a leader, it is your job to show respect for all your employees, and that means keeping your party affiliations to yourself.
Don’t put that sign up in the office parking lot–you are going to cause stress for someone on your staff and potentially lose a good employee or two in the process.