Talking Politics As A Manager in 2020: The Advice Hasn't Changed...

It's 2020, which means it's an election year.

Of course, there's more going on in 2020 than just an election - pandemic, resulting economic Dudestruggles, social movements and unrest, etc.

Since all of these things in an election year have been politicized, it seems like a good time to remind you of how to communicate your political views to your team and the rest of the company as a manager of people.

It's simple for best results as a manager of people. You don't routinely share your political views or hot takes on things that could be considered to be political with direct reports.

The reasons are pretty simple. As a manager of people, you're responsible for shepherding a group of direct reports through a given week, quarter or year.

If you've done a good job of hiring, you're leading a diverse team - which broadly defined, means your people don't all look, sound or think like you. You're in a position of power, so the more you broadcast polarizing information like political views, the more you risk alienating good people who aren't a carbon copy of you.

That's true any year, but especially in an election year. Since the events of 2020 have become polarized politically, you also need to be aware of polarizing your team on current events as well.

I'm not saying you can't be you. And note I'm 100% saying you should be clear that you're against racism and for safety related to COVID. You can and should share those views, and it's an important part of leading on issues.

I'm saying that the stronger/hotter you are on a polarizing take - whether you come from the hard left or hard right - the more you risk shutting someone down on your team from talking to you, which almost always results in lower engagement and one foot out the door.

Managers from both the hard right and the hard left struggle with this. For best results, remember that in competitive election years, the country is split pretty much evenly between two political parties.

Some of you will email me and say, "But Kris, how do I find the line?" Well, if you're manager of people, that's what the money is for.

Your job is to keep all the good people on the bus. The team that successfully navigates 2020, 2021 and arrives at 2022 at a different place with the highest percentage of talented employees retained and rowing in the right direction wins.

Leadership is art. I'm sorry I'm saying you shouldn't share that op/ed you loved from The New York Times or Fox News with the team. 

Listen more than you talk. Connect with everyone on your team on a 1/1 level. Show empathy to all.

Play to win in 2020.


BOSS Tip: Send an Agenda/Info For Your Meeting, Control the Narrative...

Capitalist Note: Quick hit today from the BOSS Leadership Series, the 7-module series of manager training designed to make your managers better leaders of people!

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I see you and I sense it. You've got an escalating situation - either inside your own team that you manage, via cross-departmental relationships or interacting Agendaswith clients. Things are spiraling and it seems like you can't get ahead.

I'm not embedded with you, so the reasons for the spiral can be many, right? But let's assume for the sake of this post that you're on top of your game, the path you're pursuing is valid and correct, you've got the talent to deliver, etc. You're just getting chopped up repeatedly as you deal with your team, other departments, and/or clients. You just can't seem to get ahead of it.

I'm going to give you one small thing to experiment with to regain control:

Start sending out Agendas for the meetings you're holding. As a senior level course, send some reports with favorable data/info with the agenda for best results.

Meetings suck. They suck more when you're the host and you lose control of them.

Agendas let everyone know what you're going to go through in the meeting. They allow you to be in control, and they allow you to bring wayward conversations back to what you - the organizer - wanted to accomplish.

Data/Info sent with agendas that's favorable to your cause/goals help you establish credibility. To the extent you have enemies in the mix or people who don't agree with your approach, data and info sent with agendas can help you frame the narrative.

It's easy to hijack a meeting away from someone who's not prepared. It's harder when they sent the agenda.

It's even harder when they share an agenda with some reports and info that suggests their path is valid.

Control the narrative and prevent meeting hijacking by sending an agenda. Start with no more than 5 items, each described in 4 words or less.

The floor is now yours. You're welcome.