Your Divided Company–Oh, You Think You’re United? (3 ways to inspire harmony)
If you hear, “Our country is divided” one more time are you ready to scream or has it all just become background noise? No matter what side of anything you are on it’s blatantly obvious our binary nature has manifested disunity on a greater scale than we’ve ever recognized before. So what about your company? Does the nation’s divide detour around your little enclave? Is your view from an ivory tower or firsthand observation in the break room? If you think all is well maybe you might want to look under the surface for “United we stand” might really be “Divided we fail!”
Political and media discourse are clearly gasoline on this fire so to imagine these conflicts of conscious and imagination haven’t permeated our workplaces is naive, and look around to see if you’re throwing kindling on the fire. Certainly there are clusters that may be insulated or like-minded in your company but even if disunity is minor, or seemingly so in your company let’s look at the potential downsides. Trust, teamwork, effort, motivation, morale, cooperation, guidance are a few of the “success essentials” that clearly take a hit when strong points of view are expressed in opposition and winners and losers replace comradery. Is there anything you can do? You bet!
3 Ways To Inspire Harmony
1) What The Leader Says & Does: Okay, it seems obvious that leadership by example is key in any organization, influencing that example downward is just as key. Unfortunately the self-recognition of this is dominated by the “does” and often overlooks the “says.” Sure, you can hoot the cliches to avoid religion and politics at work but be real, you don’t need to have screaming matches or involved debates to have positions known. A simple comment, a smug expression or the “joke” you think is funny that gets accommodating chuckles from intimidated subordinates can be every bit as damaging as brow beating stump speeches. Understand your power dynamic, underlings learn it’s better to be smart than heard so suppression becomes instinct. To those who can’t or won’t suppress do they become pariahs and/or champions and wear the differentiation like a badge of honor with a clique of lemmings? What does a them and us construct mean for your business? It means regardless of your social and political opinion don’t misunderstand your business power position with a moral high ground. Perhaps the best compliment a leader might get is that his/her subordinates are sure they are politically aligned–and get that reaction from both sides!
2) Embracing Diversity Diversely: You can fill a library wing with diversity literature; training, value, supporting. Thing is, it’s very hard not to recognize similarity with ourselves and value it more highly than something different so there’s often history of people who “see things the right way” getting ahead (or look or act). If you are going to buy in to the value of ethnic, age, sex and experience diversity as a value to your company (if not go argue with the library wing) then you have to accept that diversity carries with it various social and political consciousness. Now if you are an organization with a united singular cause, say the ACLU or RNC then what and how diversity is valuable has a perimeter. For most business functions whether a person is red or blue won’t influence their skill or ability. It may, however, influence their perspective, their point of view and their admiration or contempt for opposing views. Recognize while you aren’t responsible for the past per se, you can’t hide from the fact that where we all is influenced by how things were and that can be a very different reality one to another.
In order to optimize the diversity you have, or to broaden it for profit motivation, you need only recognize that those differences exist, and have their own value. That our binary nature means there will be two sides to most stories and while one may be a majority, even an overwhelming one, that doesn’t invalidate or undervalue the other. A worker might, for example, disagree with a tax proposal compared to a business owner. If the business owner demeans the opposition he will create conflict in the opposer. Not that business owners are obligated to be wishy-washy or not have strong opinions but they can simply put their views in terms of how it benefits and has purpose, a greater good like more profit means hiring more help or growing salaries. Explaining things in a bigger picture context, without fire and brimstone, and simply acknowledging that, “I know some people don’t agree but I think this is important for our company,” is a position that is easy to respect. “Those idiots against this,” is, hmmm, a bit less so.
3) Demonstrate Your Ethics: Times used to be simpler. The bosses were Republicans, the unions were Democrats and the middle managers were idealists waiting to make enough money to become Republican! One of the reasons our division is palpable today is that it has become integrated. What hasn’t changed is that whatever your opinion of the issues of the day integrity is a far stronger virtue for admiration to unite than opinion to divide. We’ve all worked with people with whom we disagree but what enables respect is the integrity they demonstrate. Your morality is respected when it is displayed in deeds rather than shouted from a pulpit. Encouraging unity in a functions like sponsoring a neighborhood clean-up or a holiday party for kids in a local hospital are examples that allow connections of the heart that can overshadow expressions of the mind. Show that you give, live what you feel and share your best self, that might help eclipse the parts others may oppose and then you can motivate business goals to unite purpose.
Corollary to that if you suggest “to hell with that customer” when your written mission is “customer is king” then political or social differences will become a magnifying wedge and excuse to devalue any other message. People can work well with people with whom they disagree but repudiate those they disrespect. You don’t have to care about that, unless you care about having business success that grows, profits and is admired.
© 2017 MyEureka Solutions. www.myeurekasolutions.com