As a manager, it’s inevitable that you will face times when your team members are confronting difficulties that are not directly related to work but are still affecting their work outcomes. Whether they’re responding to complicated times in the world, periods of intense political change, familial conflicts, or other personal matters, it can sometimes be hard to know how exactly to support them. What’s the right balance staying compassionate and ensuring productivity? How do you check in without overstepping? What should you say – or not say?
According to recent Gallup data, employees are 3x more likely to be engaged at work and 5x more likely to advocate for their company as a place to work when they feel their organization values their wellbeing. When you, as their manager, truly care about the wellbeing of your employees, they can feel it.
How can you effectively build resiliency on your team?
Start conversations with “how are you?”
It sounds simple, but when managers check in on their employees before immediately delving into work-related issues, it sets a different kind of tone and really makes employees feel respected. Embedding this into the way you communicate with your team can help them feel more comfortable openly sharing with you during difficult times and accepting your support.
Acknowledge what’s happening
If an employee has shared that something is going on in his or her life, actively listen and take a moment before responding. Sometimes these situations can be complicated, so it’s important to take a breath and process the entirety of the situation before speaking. It can be helpful to paraphrase what they’ve said to show them that you’re really internalizing what they are telling you and make them feel heard.
Don’t push information
Recognize that when your team members are dealing with something in their personal lives, they may not feel comfortable discussing it with you. And that’s okay. Be there for them as a resource, but remember that they don’t owe you an explanation. Also, if applicable, recommend other available support systems within your organization that may be able to help.
Encourage taking time
Set a comfortable tone with your team members by asking them about how they are taking time for themselves. Whether that’s asking about evening plans or their next getaway, make it clear that you support these kinds of practices and want them to prioritize a healthy work-life balance.
Additionally, when you know one of your team members is going through a challenging time, remember that not everyone copes the same way. Ask your employees what would be helpful from you as their manager and how you can make them feel supported. Maybe they need some extra guidance on how to reduce distractions or some more flexibility with their schedules. Whatever it is, let them be the ones to tell you how you can help.
Validate their feelings
Some of your team members may feel alone or even resentful that they’re going through something while everyone else seems to just be carrying on with their lives. Encourage them to have self-compassion. Make it clear that everyone experiences difficult periods and that their priority should be to take care of themselves. Also, be sure to acknowledge that what they are feeling is valid and understandable.
Model boundaries and self-care
You’ll be best able to support your team members if you know how to manage your own work-life balance. Sleep, exercise, nutrition, time with family, and fresh air are proven to help with resiliency. So, set boundaries for yourself, prioritize your home life, and encourage your team members to do the same.