Trump in the workplace

In our house, there is an ongoing debate about the logic of pairing chocolate with mint. My daughter finds the combination delicious. My husband finds it so unpleasant as to be difficult to even think about. I try to maintain a Swiss neutrality on the issue, which invariably (and unhelpfully) leads me down the path of rummaging around in the pantry for Swiss chocolate, minted or otherwise.

In any event, my family's little chocolate/mint debate undoubtedly pales to what you've been dealing with in your workplace since early November--marked by one of the most contentious and polarizing elections in recent memory.

If you are dealing with a workplace divided, here are some tips to help you restore peace and harmony--or at least a cordial detente.

I have used an easy-to-remember mnemonic for these strategies: T.R.U.M.P.

T: Talk it out. Some little workplace irritations are just that--little. Deeply held beliefs about the leadership and direction of our country, however, do not fall into this category. If you have two or more employees who seem ready to come to blows over their respective politics, don't stand by and wait for it to blow over. Intervene while there is still a working relationship that can be salvaged. A four- or eight-year presidential administration is too long a time to hold your breath and cross your fingers.

R: Respect each other's viewpoints. This is easier said than done, of course, but there is a lot to be said for this basic tenet of civility that we are taught from the time we are very small. Respecting someone else's beliefs does not necessarily mean endorsing them, or agreeing with them. It simply means accepting that the other person has a right to have them.  

U: Uphold high standards. You, as a member of HR, are not a regular old private citizen at work. It's your job to model the kind of open, respectful dialogue you want to see among your workforce--and also to keep your own private political views, well, private. No, this is not easy or fair, but few things about HR are!

M: Monitor developing situations. Like snowflakes, no two workplace disputes are ever the same. Some are garden-variety personality conflicts, while others have the potential to escalate into full-blown violence. Similarly, exchanges that fall into the category of spirited-but-good-natured ribbing between one set of employees can constitute bullying or harassment between another. Keep an eye out and intervene as necessary. As you well know, HR's poor management or non-management of certain disputes can lead to catastrophic lawsuits down the line.  

P: Practice kindness. To your customers, your vendors, your bosses, your UPS guys and gals, and most especially your employees. There is no downside.