In our post-Brexit world we are starting to see occurrences of divisive behaviours. Social media has been the platform for a considerable amount of abusive behaviour in the last few days. The vote was 52% to 48%, so in most companies with any significant number of staff there is likely to be a roughly equal split in the way the workforce voted. Leave voters may be behaving triumphantly, Remain voters feeling sad and betrayed, and everyone is watching the financial markets and wondering how long and deep the recession will be.
The less-sensitive amongst your staff from either camp may inflame the situation by making sweeping provocative statements. And on top of that there is massive uncertainty and its accompanying fear. And many will be wondering about the security of their jobs.
All this might be going on around your company’s coffee machine.
Can you do anything about it?
Well yes, as a business leader you can’t change the result of the vote, but you can help your staff to move on. Understanding that you don’t know what will happen, you can’t predict the future, and you may have a lot of planning and thinking to do for yourself.
But what you can do is provide short-term direction and motivation. You can get staff together and remind them about the company vision and strategy. You can reinforce the steps needed to achieve the goals and re-focus them on what they need to do the achieve those goals.
When people are in shock they stop thinking – like rabbits in the headlights. In a situation like this you can get them going again by keeping them busy and encouraging well-directed activity. This will help move people away from coffee machine gossip and back to being effective.
And if you do have problems with arguments, take the perpetrators aside and remind them of the company’s values, of the need to work together and be tolerant of each other’s opinions.
The important thing is to step forward and communicate with your staff. Now is not the time to be hiding away in the board room. This is a time that requires leadership, drawing people together and reminding them about what’s important, i.e. working as a team to achieve the company’s goals.