Water cooler talk? “Friendly” debates resounding throughout
the office? Discussions about politics are common in today’s politically
charged environment, where tribalism reigns and employees feel emboldened to
air opinions they once would have kept private.
Even discussions that begin amicably can quickly escalate
into arguments about race, gender, religion and other protected characteristics.
Depending on the circumstances, they may create a hostile, toxic work
environment that can mushroom into a public relations and litigation nightmare
for your company.
Let’s assume you’ve already done a round or two of
diversity/inclusion training, and that you have anti-harassment policies in place.
Your managers and supervisors are vigilant about setting boundaries for
political discussions in the office. What more can be done with repeat
offenders, other than disciplining or firing them?
We have found that, in many cases, coaching is an effective
way to manage this problem before productivity plunges and discrimination or
harassment complaints are lodged.
The coach creates a “safe zone” where the employee can voice
and reflect upon his/her biases and stereotypical thinking. The coach challenges
the employee to examine how their behavior has created problems in the
workplace. Coaching activities will provide an opportunity to learn and practice
new behaviors in various on-the-job situations.
Coaching is not intended
to bring about immediate change in ingrained belief systems or political views,
but to help develop the skills essential for bias-free workplace behavior. It
is intended to enable the employee to reach a deeper level of thinking about
contributing to the company’s success and aligning actions with corporate
The employee can move from rejecting diversity to
acknowledging the worth of all colleagues and treating them all with respect. As
coaching continues, the employee and the coach will jointly develop steps to
insure long-term progress.
If you would like to
learn more about using our coaching process and how it helps create a more productive
work environment, please contact us.