We are getting closer. A deal will be made and we will go back to work. Start preparing for the first few days back in the office. Yes, you will have to review emails and phone messages but you really need a plan for how you will deal with two things: Your co-workers and customers
We all have co-workers, managers and supervisors. We all have a variety of views, personal and political. Start preparing your strategy for dealing with comments that “may be made” regarding what has happened over the last couple of weeks. Remain calm, professional and avoid being pulled into a debate. Perhaps your office staff has already made a pact not to talk politics at work, if so, great. If that is not the case, then it is up to you to determine how you will deal with political comments that may come up on the first day or so back in the office, be prepared.
If you are a supervisor of staff, they will look to you and see how you proceed. You must show leadership and professionalism. Welcome them back, let them know that you’re happy to see them and focus on what steps need to be taken to get the work done for the week. If you see or hear employees making comments about the politics of the shutdown, gage the reactions of the other staff members. If you see signs of discomfort or anger, step in and refocus the conversation on work. You may have to make a “short” speech reminding the staff that we are all government employees with a variety of views that we are entitled to, however, let’s not make each other uncomfortable.
If you are the employee and your supervisor is not taking the lead in ensuring that political talk is not getting out of hand, you take the lead in stating the same. We are all government employees with a variety of political views but we share a common goal in our dedication to helping people who help the land so let’s get back to work. Don’t be bashful, don’t be shy, be firm and it won’t be long before things will calm down and we will get passed this.
It is possible that when you come back to work you may have to deal with some irate customers. You will have to hear comments on any number of topics. You need to be prepared. It would be a good idea if you and the office staff are all using the same talking points. But if that is not the case, prepare your own. Keep your comments simple, you can say something like, “You regret the inconvenience, how can I help you now, and smile.” You are a government representative and some customers may feel that they can vent their frustration to you. I know that it may be hard, but try not to take their comments personally. Admit that you do understand their frustration: “if we can put it aside and focus on what you need now, we can take steps to help you.” It may be a good idea to have another employee listen in and come to the desk to back you up if necessary.
We are living in unprecedented times, however, if we think ahead and are prepared we can and will deal with it effectively. If you have some ideas to share with WIN members, please feel free to share them.