“I’m having some personal problems. It’s hard to keep my mind on work.”
“What’s going on?”
“My wife and I have not been getting along.”
“When I went through my divorce it was hell. Maybe you need to slow down on your drinking.”
“My spouse has gone on a spending spree. We are having financial problems.”
The conversation continued for another thirty minutes without a resolution. The manager later explained that he was trying to find the root cause of the employee’s problem.
I think most managers’ fail when striving to find reasons why employees miss work or behave inappropriately. Managers may even worsen the situation by giving bad advice or enabling dysfunctional behaviors.
Consider two ways to help employees get through a personal wreck. One, show your concern by honestly laying out the consequences of their behaviors. Two, encourage employees to visit your Employee Assistance Program where they can receive professional help.
No matter how well meaning, most managers make poor therapists.