Managers put your political orientation aside!

When managers are making decisions for their company they have the responsibility to think about how their stakeholders will react to the decision. What happens if a stakeholder has a strong opinion on the issues that opposes the manager’s opinion? This puts the manager in a tough position. When I began to think about how to solve this issue I thought of it in terms of pharmaceutical company (lets call it ABC Corp.). Imagine that ABC Corp. is currently only selling one product, a cancer-fighting drug. Imagine that the manager came up with the idea to begin selling birth control pills. Birth control and the issue of abortion is a political issue that many people feel strongly about. The manager has an obligation to think about taking on this new product line will affect their stakeholders. If the manager is pro-choice and feels woman should have the right to use birth control, certainly the manager would be in favor of selling the birth control if it will provide more profit to the company. But how will the customers will react to the addition of birth control? Some customers who are currently using ABC’s cancer drug may be strongly against abortion and birth control. Some customers may not want to support ABC Corp. if they begin to sell birth control and may even stop using the cancer drug.

When I thought of this illustration I came to the conclusion that the manager cannot simply make the decision based on his or her political orientation. I believe that managers need to have the ability to put their political views aside. Managers need to know their stakeholders realize that different stakeholders will have different political orientations and therefore different responses to a companies actions. I do realize that taking into account all of the stakeholders political orientations is not an easy task, but the managers have to make a conscious effort to think about politics when making a decision. There is no way to please every stakeholder but managers need to focus on pleasing the majority. As of May 2014, the U.S. was still split on abortion: 47% Pro-Choice, 46% Pro-Life. This does not mean that half of ABC Corp’s customers are pro-choice and half are pro-life, but it is a possibility. The managers of ABC Corp. need to reach out to their stakeholders and understand their feelings towards the issue before making their final decision of whether or not to sell the product. This may cost the company, but they need to have an understanding of their customers to make the best decision possible. For a manager to be successful they must have the ability to put their own political views aside when they have to.

After taking the political typology quiz I was very conflicted and had trouble answering the questions. I found that I didn’t have a clear understanding of some political issues that are very important. Talking about politics today can be awkward and uncomfortable and sometimes it is just easier to avoid it. I know I do, I would rather just not talk about politics so that their isn’t any chance of a disagreement. Unfortunately, managers do not have the luxury of simply ignoring it. And quite honestly it shouldn’t be something that we want to avoid. Everyone has the right to their own personal views, that is the beauty of our society. We should be open to speaking our minds and sharing our views with others. We should not be worried about causing an issue or starting a debate. Managers should embrace their stakeholder’s views and use them to make the company better. If managers know their stakeholders and take into account their political views when making a decision their stakeholders will be more satisfied with the company. Happy stakeholders means a happy company 🙂

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