How to Lead Your Team Through Election Madness
It’s election week and there is a good chance people have been and will continue to talk politics in the workplace. Politics can often be a taboo topic, but in times like these, it’s hard to avoid. The American Psychological Association found that 68% of adults surveyed say the 2020 election is a significant source of stress in their life – up from 52% in 2016. So it is pretty inevitable that some of that stress is going to pour over into the office. After all, a lot of the issues directly impact employees such as equality, health care and employment itself. No matter the outcome, you will have some employees extremely upset and some absolutely thrilled.
Here are a few tips to manage your employee’s stress around the election:
Be prepared to intervene if political discussions are getting out of hand. If employees start making inappropriate comments or making things personal, you need to step in. Take the employee who is being inappropriate aside and explain why that is not okay. Not addressing it will give that person permission to continue that behavior. If you are facilitating a group conversation, make sure everyone is being respectful and stays on point.
Empathize that not all employees can keep it cool after hearing the results. This is a big mental stressor for a lot of people. Understand that people may need to take a few extra breaks or not make any big decisions because they are distracted. Practice those soft leadership skills to let employees know you know they might be hurting.
Send out a message to your team that acknowledges the tough days ahead. Encourage employees to take the high road and commit to your company’s values and a culture of mutual respect. Let your employees know you understand there is an elephant in the room and you are there for them. Do not stay silent- communicate.
Reiterate core values and harassment policies to your team in order to remind people that political differences should not get in the way of a functioning team. Remind employees what to do if they feel bullied or harassed. Use your core values as guidelines and put them in the forefront of people’s minds.
In times of unrest and anxiety, leaders need to step up for their employees. We can’t solve problems we aren’t willing to talk about, so don’t let your team feel left behind.