Politics in the workplace

It is a worldwide issue; should you allow or encourage or discourage politics in the workplace?

There may not be an election at the moment but there are always things happening and being decided and so the question is always relevant as your employees will have an opinion on everything.

A related question is if the company can or should have a political view?

Another related question is if the company can have moral values or beliefs? What does that have to do with your business?

One answer could be that all is well and allowed as long as it does not interfere with business, but that may not satisfy some owners who founded the firm and have some opinion on moral values and want to keep the workplace in sync with how they view the world.

If thousands or millions of shareholders own the company it will be difficult to find one set of values that needs to be highlighted in the company, unless the history of the company has created that.

So there isn’t an easy answer and much of what happens will be a function of views and history, ownership and severity of the issues at hand.

Clearly, if something in the nation’s politics has the potential to hurt the company it will be understandable and allowed for the company to use all their options to oppose the proposed measures. Companies do that often by hiring firms who will lobby on their behalf with the politicians.

Also by giving support to certain politicians who seem to understand the company’s views influence can be applied.

Discussions among the workforce though of politics should really stay outside the workplace, as are discussions about sex, religion and when important matches are in view, maybe even sports. Does that artificially stop the debate? Well yes but you are at the company not to convince other people of your political, religious or moral beliefs but to accomplish the goals of the company.

So unless you are an owner, and unless the company’s mission is in danger due to some political action, stay away from bringing politics into the workplace.

New Year’s resolutions?

Do you have any New Year’s resolutions made? Lose weight, be more active, balance work/life? Things like that? Great, good for you and we hope you’ll accomplish them all.

Any point where you stop and review what you are doing and re-check your priorities is good. At your office, you should do the same. Take stock of what is on your plate, what is not moving forward and why not. I keep this easy spreadsheet that lists the topics/projects that need to be done. I have a column for what the result needs to be, a column for the status, a column for the obvious next step I should take and most importantly a column for why I am not taking that step,

That last column is crucial. You need to be aware of why it is that you don’t move the project forward. Often it has to do with fears for reactions from others, or resistance that you anticipate. Well here is the thing, unless you move, nothing moves and the project will continue to be stalled and you will continue to have to think about it and have it contribute to your workload and worries.

My recommendation is to make that list, review the columns and develop at least three strategies to take that next step. You’ll be glad you did!

Building a company is a bit like raising a family

Without being paternalistic, there is a similarity between raising your children and getting your employees to buy into your goals and philosophy and work with you in the way you want to run your company.

Like your children, your employees will all have their own personality and ambitions, behaviors and attitudes but to successfully form either a team or a family, you need some shared values that all buy into. If you can have your children buy into the fact their brains need enough rest to become successful, you won’t have to police the bedtime day to day. If you have them buy into what is right and wrong in this world, you won’t have to trace their internet behavior as much.

In a similar way you need to ensure that employees buy into the company’s goals values and culture.

Inspiration motivation quotation Success does not going to you, you go to it  and cup of coffee

Inspiration motivation quotation Success does not going to you, you go to it and cup of coffee

Not all buying into the company’s belief system and culture means that some won’t  cooperate as successful as you would like and you will have to correct, adjust, intervene and change the behavior before it causes confusion with the others. We are not talking about all employees drinking the proverbial “kool aid” but rather all employees understanding clearly what the goals of the company are and in what way you want to achieve them. Everyone is responsible for their part in making it happen and you can’t work with someone who either does not buy into it or is confused about it.

It starts with recruitment. Focus in your recruitment efforts on finding out if your prospects would be able to buy into your company’s culture. Yes you do want diversity of thought to take the opportunities provided by critical and creative thinking but you need to balance it with uprooting the basics of the organization.

Think of a clear example in a company that produces organic food. Yes the non organic food will be cheaper and easier to produce and market but that’s not who you are as a company and if you have employees not buying into putting in the extra efforts to produce and market organic food, you need to change them out for those that can fully support the companies philosophy.

If it is your company’s culture to look forward, share information and report mistakes as soon as possible to learn from it and correct it speedily, you can’t have some that won’t share information or point fingers to apportion blame. That is counter to what you try to achieve and they should either change their attitude or their career choice.

To create and maintain this strong company culture and keep the focus on the companies goals, you need to over communicate it. Not just the occasional newsletter or email but really connecting with people to inspire them to do the same with the groups they are responsible for. You will need to hold people accountable for the steps they take that are not in line with the company’s culture. These things do not have a direct correlation with commercial success. One of your key sales people may not have the right approach in how you want your clientele to know your company and so even if she or he is a great sales person, you may need to change them for someone who is equally capable but works in the way you want to run the company.

Building this accountability in from day one will serve your company well over the years and when executed well can survive scaling of the company to huge sizes.