How Leaders Need to Shift their Strategies in the Changing Political ClimateNatalia Persin
You’ve seen the news. The left political party is becoming more left wing, and the right political party is becoming increasingly more right wing.
But in this polarizing climate, what strategies should you implement to remain a good leader?
There are several, and implementing them won’t be as easy as you think. Read on to learn more.
How is the Political Climate Changing?
It’s time to face it, politics in America was probably never a nice dinner conversation. Both parties, since their inception, have been at each other’s throats. But with the advent of social media, everything has gotten even worse.
Suddenly anyone can log into an app and see pictures, memes, and videos of opposing political views. What was once reserved for only the daily paper now surrounds citizens all the time.
This has created parties that are more polar than ever before, and most people won’t believe you when you say you are something in the middle. They want you to choose, and they want you to choose now, as this is how they decide whether or not they will follow you.
Modern society is one that is obsessed with labels, and as a leader at work or in your business, employees are bound to ask what you label yourself as. This can make it very difficult to employ strategies that once worked as a leader.
Why Leaders Need to Shift Their Strategies
Once upon a time, leading was much easier because your peers and employees were likely members of the same political party, and if you weren’t, they were still willing to work with you. This is no longer the case.
Individuals now, especially the millennial generation, will only work in a position they feel matches their political values, meaning even if politics wasn’t part of your strategy before, it must become part of your strategy now. This is especially true when it comes to hiring women who are more aware of the gender gap than ever before.
Without a good leader in the workplace, tensions could rise and cause instability, undermining the growth of your company even if you aren’t involved in the conflict yourself. The last thing you want is for employees to ignore or disrespect you because they feel you are stuck in the past.
This is why, as a leader, it’s time to switch up strategies a bit because your old ones probably won’t work. And this could be the only way to allow your company to experience success and growth.
9 Strategies Leaders Need to Implement in the Changing Political Climate
1. Don’t Take a Political Stance as a Company
It can be tempting as a company to donate money to causes you feel strongly about. While it’s tempting, don’t do it.
In the long run, these donations are made public, and if employees disagree, can lead to massive turnover rates if you’ve invested in the wrong thing. But this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t donate money.
It means that instead of donating money to a political campaign, or perhaps a society like PETA, stick to investing in local charities. Run a food drive, and sponsor a day where employees can help at the neighborhood homeless shelter.
Not only will this be difficult for your employee to be against, as it is their own neighborhood, but it is also rarely political in nature. Plus, local charities are much less likely to be tied in with big politicians as opposed to larger charities like the infamous Race for the Cure cancer-fighting campaign.
2. Discuss Your Businesses Impact on the Climate
While discussing politics is never advised in a business setting, the only politics you should discuss is climate change. What former generations swept under the rug is now the forefront of the business world.
Rather than ignoring the effects your company may have on the environment, it’s time to discuss them out in the open. Be upfront with them with employees and let them know you are trying to change and become better. You never know when one of your employees might have a great idea.
In fact, over 63% of Americans care about climate change and think that large companies are the ones ruining the environment. Even if you are a small company, showing you care about your environmental impact can go a long way toward retaining employees.
Not to mention that going more green may help save your business from issues that are arising because of foreign tensions and the difficulty of acquiring raw goods.
3. Spend Time on Your Supply Chain
Employees often receive the short end of the stick when it comes to customer anger. Following the COVID19 pandemic, this has only increased as companies all over the world are having supply chain disruptions.
This strategy specifically goes hand in hand with discussing climate change with your employees. Is there a way for you to make the products closer to home?
This will not only ensure the employees are less disrupted by supply chain issues but will also allow you as a company to promote that you are supporting the local economy. Customers in this day and age are generally willing to pay more for local goods that benefit the environment, meaning you can keep your shelves stocked while also keeping employees and customers happy!
4. Asses Political Risks
While it may not always be possible to keep your supply chain close to home, it is essential as a leader that you assess political risks within your company. Are you acquiring a product from across a country’s border? Then know that someday this product may not be available to you and could cause disaster.
Now, importing from different countries carries different levels of risk, and this is what you need to be aware of before you set up a supply chain from another country. Gone are the days of political world peace, and it doesn’t seem to be coming back anytime soon.
5. Ask Your Employees for Feedback
Schedule one on one meetings with your employees and ask for their feedback on their job as well as how you are doing as a leader. Any good leader can take a little criticism and use it to their advantage to grow as a person.
This is mainly true when you are of a different generation than your employees. While you may not understand tik-tok or other social media apps, asking for feedback from your employees can give you valuable insight as to how they want to be led.
For example, most employees these days don’t want to be micromanaged (who ever did?), so if your employees says they are feeling micromanaged, it may be time to give them more freedom in the workplace with scheduled check-ins to ensure the job still gets done.
6. It’s Time to Digitize
The era of digitization is upon us, and no matter how well you treat employees, you will likely lose some to political differences. When this happens, you should look to automate positions rather than trying to fill them.
Digitizing both helps save you time and future arguments with employees over political differences. While it might be expensive to set up, in the long run, the costs are well worth the benefits you will receive from not having to hire another employee.
7. Hold Yourself Accountable
You probably already know this, but it is essential that you lead by example. Show up to work on time each and every day ready to go and with a smile on your face, and your employees will likely do the same.
Currently, there are cameras everywhere, and the general population is fed up with leaders who feel they are above the rules (just look at the COVID-19 criticism of political leaders throwing parties despite lockdowns). So if you set a bad example, know that it will come back to bite you.
Employees have respect for leaders they feel are one of them. Did you come into work one day to find yourself short-staffed? Maybe you work that employee’s position rather than letting them go short-handed.
Or maybe you ask an employee to stop discussing his political views at work. You can’t do this if you, too, continue to discuss your political views. Hold yourself to the same standards you hold employees, and they will respect your leadership.
8. Increase Your Education
The changing political climate is different to navigate, so don’t underestimate the power of increasing your knowledge about it. You don’t have to go back to school to get a whole other degree, but take the time to at least take a class to understand current US politics.
Even if you don’t take a class, pick up a few books on the subject, as this can go a long way towards bridging generational differences between you and your employees. Even if a generational difference does exist, understanding other differences like political differences can help you to better navigate political disputes in the workplace.
Either way, your employees will really appreciate the effort that you’ve put into understanding how the world works. This will also make you more competitive as a company as you will better be able to navigate the difficult political climate.
9. Build a Strong Network
As a business leader, you aren’t in this alone. There are thousands of other business leaders across the nation right there with you who are also battling the political change.
Network with other companies in your same industry, while this may seem like getting cozy with the competition, you never know when they have a powerful resource or approach you can use to enhance your leadership skills.
Additionally, when supply chains fail, as they are doing more often these days, a buddy in the industry can also direct you where to get new supplies or maybe to industrial facilities which can produce your product.
Your network should also include potential employees, staffing agencies, third-party vendors, and anything else you think you may need someday in order to make your company successful.
What To Do When the Strategies Don’t Work
Unfortunately, the current political climate is unpredictable, and there is no way to guarantee these strategies will preserve the peace in your workplace. As mentioned above, you should prepare for the worst and prepare to lose some employees.
This is a natural course of action, as you simply can’t make everyone happy. When this happens, it’s best to return to the digitizing strategy, where you replace them with a machine, as well as have a company on speed dial to help you with your staffing needs.
You also need to keep in mind that there may come a point where you need to let employees go even if they’ve been great for years. An example of this is when government regulations required all contractors and medical providers to be vaccinated or lose their jobs, and leaders didn’t have a choice.
Using a staffing company can help bridge the gap between an employee leaving suddenly and a new one being found. So as part of your networking step, include this in your process as you never know when the political climate may shift, causing you to use employees.
Ready to Shift Your Leadership Strategy?
No matter how you look at it, the past is the past, and while it may be easier to reminisce about better political times, the truth is there every time you open your email or watch the news. Whether you are a manager or business owner, it is time to shift your leadership strategy to fit the current political climate.
This can be difficult to do, but if you employ the above strategies, you will likely have success. Are you still having trouble retaining employees after trying all these strategies? Then take a look at how to maintain a better work-life balance for your employees, as this can help increase retention rates.