Three Ways to Manage an Employee During a Personal Crisis

It happens to all of us at one point or another. A personal crisis or stressful situation occurs outside the office which can’t help but permeate the job as well.

According to a piece on The Daily Muse, there are a few ways to handle the delicate situation. Keep in mind everyone handles situations differently.

Whether it’s going through a bitter divorce or dealing with stress from a car accident, each situation has the potential to wear down the employee. Furthermore, someone may be able to simply shrug a situation off their shoulders and not let it impact them whereas others feel like the world is ending.

1. Remember you’re the boss, not the friend. Yes, this may sound harsh but it’s all part of management. If the line gets blurry between manager and friend, it could be more difficult to manage. You may become more of a therapist than a boss.

Your job as a manager is to empower your employees to work through their personal issues. Many companies provide resources to do so. As the piece points out, giving them time off and/or resources to cope is one thing, being a shoulder to cry on is another (go with the former; avoid the latter).

2. Establish a timeline and backups. Let’s say an employee has an elderly parent who is in and out of hospitals. They’ll need time off to be with that parent especially if it’s serious and maybe they can adjust their routine to work remotely. That said, it’s important to have a Plan B.

What if the employee is out unexpectedly for a longer period of time? Find a teammate who can cross-train and backfill if need be.

3. Check in. As the manager you still want the employee to know that you care and you support them. Jennifer Winter writes, “I know this from my own personal experience. My house was robbed a few weeks ago, and after the initial shock had worn off, my boss still checked in on me every few days to see how I was holding up. While there was nothing he could really do, just knowing he was concerned enough to ask was a huge help emotionally.”

After the intensity of the situation has blown over, she suggests checking in with the employee by stopping by his or her desk periodically. Ask how they are or send a quick email.

“Knowing that the boss has enough interest in people’s personal situations to be mindful of how they’re doing even after the initial event has passed will help remind everyone that, while this is a professional environment, the people in it still care about each other.”