Will Election Day Ever Get Here?

Posted on October 17, 2012.

If you’re like me, you’re getting sick of all the political ads, political rhetoric, Facebook chatter and debate discussions. But what do you do when it seeps into the office? Can visceral dialogue about a candidate lead to rage in the office, as a recent WSJ article suggests? How can you respect people’s First Amendment rights, but keep peace in the office?

Of course you could do what Westgate Resorts CEO, David Siegel did and send a letter to all your employees making it clear what side of the fence you’re straddling.

Clearly, if I’m a liberal leaning worker at Westgate, I’m keeping my opinions to myself.  Most executives aren’t quite so direct. But as a manager, you need to find a way to prevent individual arguments from escalating and permanently damaging a working relationship. So why not have a debate of your own?

Have each side pick one person they feel would represent their viewpoints the best. Select a moderator and ask people to come prepared with questions. Make sure they are kept professional and stick to the issues. No yelling, no interrupting, no personal attacks allowed (unlike the national debates). Make it fun. Bring in some pizza and Skype in your virtual workers.  Make sure you set a time limit and keep to it, both for the speakers and for the whole debate.

At the end, make it clear that the debate was your way of letting everyone get his or her voice heard. After that, it’s back to business and work related discussions only. Oh, and who won? If you can keep the arguments out of the office until November 6th, everyone did.