Politics and the workplace

In business, we can’t afford not to get along

Whether your candidates won or lost, the election is over. There’s very little you and I can do to prevent a “Trump disaster” or to “put Hillary in jail.” We’ve elected people to run our country. We have to let them do their jobs. We can reward or punish them at the next election. 

Meanwhile, we have our jobs to do, no small part of which means getting along with each other, regardless of who the people we work with voted for. Both Trump and Clinton have called for the country to come together. That’s not likely to happen; the issues are much too divisive, but we still have to work together, if we want to keep our jobs.

Yes, I know you never liked that supplier, but she provides exactly the components you need at the best price. You have to keep buying from her even though she had the effrontery to vote for the wrong candidate and brag about it. I know that sharing her political views was stupid, but you still need the best deal for your company. 

And that arrogant engineer that supports your process should keep his political mouth shut as well, but you can’t stop working with him without punishing yourself, your company and its customers. 

During the heat of the campaign, it was revealed that Bill Belichick and Tom Brady were Trump supporters. This caused such a furor, there was even talk of boycotting the Patriots. I wonder if they noticed any dip in ticket sales?

In any case, do you think it’s possible some members of the Patriots squad are Hillary supporters? I imagine there are. Do you think Tom Brady would stop passing to anyone who voted for Hillary, and if he did, how many games would they win? When he’s looking for a receiver, he doesn’t care about politics. He’ll pick whoever has a good chance of catching the ball and moving it forward, regardless of who he voted for. That’s how you win games. 

Most of us have to work with a mix, and that’s often a good thing, but we have to get along. John D. Rockefeller, the one who created the fortune, once said, “the ability to deal with people is as purchasable a commodity as sugar or coffee. And I will pay more for that ability than for any other under the sun.”

That’s the deal. Trying to punish the other guy doesn’t make any sense. We’re all sailing on the same ship. The liberals would love to flood the conservative cabins to punish them. The conservatives would like to flood the liberal cabins. When the ship goes down, we all go down together. 

Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of companies have been put out of business by management labor animosity. I’ve never heard of a single instance where either side was better off after they lost their jobs. 

When the Patriots go out on the field, all they’re thinking about is how they can win. When we go to work in the morning, we should be thinking the same way. How can we improve our operations? What new product or service should we be developing? How can we outmaneuver and beat that pesky competitor that keeps stealing our customers? 

Imagine if we could get all our employees trying as hard as the Patriots on a Sunday afternoon, just how much better things could be. That’s how we increase our market share and become more profitable so we can pay better bonuses and salaries and hire more people. That’s how we grow, and political fighting has a way of destroying our hopes and dreams. Why punish ourselves?

This is no small problem, and in our politically correct environment, many managers are afraid to address it. Letting it fester only makes things worse, and the longer we wait, the more damage is done, and the more difficult it is to solve. 

Now is the time. We can’t afford to wait; it won’t get better by itself.  

Ronald J. Bourque, a consultant and speaker from Windham, has had engagements throughout the United States, Europe and Asia. He can be reached at 603-898-1871 or RonBourque3@gmail.com.