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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Managing Political Speech in the Office

As the US gets closer to the November 4, 2008 Presidential election, the race has proven polarizing and contentious. Undoubtedly, many people have strong opinions about both candidates, as well as the issues that differentiate them

So how does a manager handle this type of excitement and the possible confrontation?

The first thing to remember is that most companies have policies that outline what is conduct is appropriate during business hours. This includes any personalization of workspace, the posting of informational materials, as well as the types of conversations that are appropriate. Find $100K+ Jobs

In short, the workplace is about work and not about personal political preferences. Employees are required to live by corporate policies and codes of conduct. However, an astute manager must have a relief valve for the pent up excitement and emotion. Here are a few strategies to deal with them. 
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1. If allowed by corporate policy, allow workspace personalization to include political buttons, stickers, etc. This gives the employee a non-verbal means of expression.
2. If allowed by corporate policy, allow the posting of materials in a designated break area, insuring equal space to differing points of view.
3. Remind employees that political discussion should be limited to break times and off-hours.
4. If so desired, consider a series of lunch discussion on the issues.

Political participation is a civic duty, however, it shouldn't consume work hours. Allowing employees to express their political view point, within reason and policy, promotes political participation and is a healthy release of emotion around election season.

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