There was a time in recent history when following an election, it was considered a civic responsibility to rally in solidarity around a new President. You were American first. You exercised your right to vote; long live patriotism. That’s not to say that Kumbaya was sung but there was a sense of respect for the office that has disappeared in recent years.
I’m not a student of Presidential politics, and I can’t pinpoint when times really changed, but I know it has. Civility is gone. The first time I realized it was in 2006. Back then I was a David Letterman fan, and one of my favourite weekly bits was Great Moments in Presidential Speeches. The bit spent a lot of time poking fun at George W. Bush’s lack of oratory finesse. I mentioned the bit once at a party and got a tongue lashing from an elder family member; reminding me how disrespectful it is to lampoon an elected leader. Interesting enough this same family member wasn’t so kind to Obama. I guess respect depends upon who you believe in.
But I digress.
It is no secret that with regards to our President-Elect, to use a human resources reference, my cheese has been moved. There, I said it. While it would be impossible for me to not show my personal leanings, with regards to this year’s election, I did take care not to state my deepest political feelings on social media. About the most political Facebook update I made this year was, “I’ve learned not to discuss politics, religion, or the Great Pumpkin.”
For all the toting I do of the importance of resilience, I’m really hoping I’m one of those people who can rebound. I have to re-find my cheese.
Strangely enough, you would think I would be blaming the President-Elect for the cheese move, but I’m not. I blame what allowed him to be elected in the first place, our new found ways of screaming our opinions loudly and not listening. Well, he listened. He listened to the concerns about globalization destroying jobs at home. He listened to concerns about the state in Washington. He listened to concerns about undesirable elements invading American borders from all directions. And to make his point he played the terrible game of using social media to retweet the opinions of an ever growing choir.
Having spent most of my career in close proximity with lawyers, I know that one of the most important strategies to win a legal case is that if you don’t have good evidence, just bang harder on the table. And that’s exactly what he did.
As human resource professionals though, we have to strive to ensure that what just happened in society does not turn into a regular problem in the workplace. We have to have a decorum that enables commerce. There can’t be an “us and them”. Employees have to be respectful of leaders. Employees can’t scream about everything they don’t’ like. Leaders have to do the right things. People can’t be rude to one another. Racism, sexism and every other ism has to be fought with love, kindness and new ways of attaining profitability.
And mostly, problems can’t be solved on social media.