1 big idea
When someone on your team is in the middle of a crisis, sometimes it’s all you can see; you get nervous, you waver between hovering and avoidance; you might even feel guilty for worrying about the work.
But here’s something to remember that can help you push past that awkwardness: Your employee is more than their crisis.
2 insights from our workplace research
- As much as you might wish those thoughts away, it’s natural to have secret worries about errors or schedules when someone on your team is struggling with an awful event. But when employees tell us about the bosses who earned their loyalty in tough times, they talk about the ones who arrive with compassion first.
- How can you manage that when all you feel is stress? You keep things separate. To your employee, you show care, support, and a listening ear. When you’re with your peers, that’s the time to unload all those concerns about deadlines and dropped balls.
The best managers we’ve met always saw each of their employees as a whole person—especially during a crisis. Whatever they’re going through, make sure it isn’t the subject of every conversation you have. If you used to talk about sports or kids or movies, keep doing that. If work is helping them hold it together, follow their lead and discuss the work, just like before. Treating an employee in crisis like they’re still who they always were can help them feel more like themselves too.
1 moment to master
A great way to stay on track when someone on your team gets sideswiped is to have a plan at the ready. This week, take some time to review the supports your company offers, like paid time off, counselling, loans, or an EAP. Then, get familiar with the terms and what an employee would need to do to access those benefits.
Also, assess your team’s readiness to act as a support network too:
- Do you have a phone tree or chat group that could quickly raise a meal-delivery or fundraising army?
- Who could you call on to step in or take on extra duties if needed?
- Keep privacy in mind: always get permission from the employee before revealing any personal information.
- Sketch out what your team can do before a crisis hits to help avoid brain lock later, when emotions are high.