Let's be honest with each other. The national and global political climate has everyone on edge, and organizations are feeling the tension from so much discord.
Social media feeds and media outlets are filled with vitriolic rhetoric about the impending election, and that energy is spilling over into the workplace.
Consequently, leaders must go above and beyond to ensure morale stays healthy.
Here are 4 important behaviors leaders can demonstrate to help their employees remain focused on their jobs.
Objectivity. The wisest action a business leader can take in this election cycle is to remain silent regarding his/her presidential preference while in the office. There is always an invisible line between the executive team and the rest of the company when it comes to deeply personal or sensitive topics. Politics are at the top of the list for topics that are off-limits.
While they may be tempted to weigh in with an opinion, leaders will put themselves in a no-win situation if they get into a discussion about the candidates. They'll only succeed in contributing to an already divisive environment.
Patience. Patience is one of the most important behavioral traits a leader can demonstrate because it shows control over the situation, and control over emotions. Between now and November 8th, employees may be quicker to argue or be more distracted. Leaders will need to resist the urge to jump into any potentially heated discussions, and maintain a calm, professional demeanor. They set the tone in the office for communication and collaboration.
Confidence. As in all election cycles, there is an increased level of economic uncertainty.
One economist remarked, "It could make Brexit look like peanuts in terms of the financial market effect."
This commentary contradicts Warren Buffet's prediction that the US economy is headed in the right direction, and "no presidential candidate is going to end it."
Employees want to know that regardless of the election outcome, their companies and their jobs are stable. Proactively sharing growth plans that extend beyond the election will go a long way in alleviating extra anxiety.
Empathy. This election cycle is impacting everyone in very personal ways, and the impact will manifest through various behaviors. Many different population segments have been on the receiving end of verbal attacks. Employees that can personally relate to disparaging comments may feel anxious.
Leaders will have to step up their empathy for those that may be feeling directly or indirectly targeted by campaign rhetoric, both from the candidates and from other constituents. They will need to know that their organizations are emotionally safe places.
Creating an emotionally safe workplace, especially in times of volatility, doesn't just feel good. It's important for a healthy bottom line.
The American Psychological Association estimates that the U.S. economy loses more than $500 billion annually because of workplace stress, and workers take 550 million sick days each year because of stress.
Fortunately, we are in the final countdown of less than 100 days for this election cycle. Then, leaders will have the opportunity to re-align everyone, and present an updated road map for growth and stability.
Until then, focus on Objectivity, Patience, Confidence, and Empathy to get your company through the turbulence.