Managing your Team with Empathy

Managing your Team with Empathy:

Providing real support during traumatic times

 

Life events wash over all of us.

Keeping a team engaged and enthused despite outside personal pressures can be challenging for even the most skilled Manager. No matter how great your culture or team environment, when employees are faced with a major life event how you support them through this period can make or break their commitment to you and your business.

We have all had team members who have children with serious illnesses, overseas bereavements or other traumatic events to deal with. Company policies often don’t provide guidance on how to balance the organisation’s needs and the needs of the individual.

There can be a lot of pressure and stress involved in traumatic personal situations.

In circumstances like these, employees need to deal with the personal situation facing them, ensure they keep earning, as well as making sure they are not letting you and the team down. How you manage this is critical. No amount of future development opportunities offered can ever recover the loss of trust that occurs if their situation isn’t empathetically managed.

Building a business that balances empathy, fairness and overall standards, while allowing flexibility to manage at an individual level is key to making this a success.

 

To do this well we suggest:

  1. Know your team

Encouraging genuine relationships where your team are comfortable to let you know about personal challenges. This helps you to manage these situations for best results for the individual and business. If you have a team member who suddenly starts disappearing at 5pm on the dot this should raise questions – perhaps they just have a gym class to get to but also, could they be getting home quickly to help a sick partner with the kids? Do you know and would they feel comfortable telling you?

 

  1. Encourage the use of EAP or specialist support services

Managers aren’t counsellors and there is no expectation that you can help your team process grief or deal with complex mental health issues. You do however want to make sure expert support is available for these situations, so that your team members are able to return to full health.

 

  1. Allow Management discretion in the application of policies

Having fair guidelines for everyone ensures an even playing field in your organisation. However, there must be room to make exceptions. If you have a team member having important medical treatment do your Managers have the flexibility to change shift patterns to accommodate this? If a team member suffers the loss of a child can extended bereavement leave or AL be taken? We don’t think any of us would expect 3 days leave would be enough to cope with a situation like this. Company policies should not hamstring Managers from making sensible, compassionate decisions.

 

  1. Consider extensions of leave entitlements for special circumstances

You can allow anything that is over and above minimum statutory entitlements. You don’t have to wait until 6 months for bereavement or sick leave and you can give additional leave in special circumstances. You have a range of options available to you should it be needed, so making sure you consider this and have flexibility to support your team members through tragedy or traumatic events can make the world of difference for them.

People have long memories, and even though work is important it quickly takes a back seat when something personally traumatic happens.

Having Company standards but managing individual pressures will help to gain future commitment and engagement from your whole team and is – in the end – the right thing to do.

Positive People have 24 years’ experience helping organisations develop policies that provide clear expectations and help to get the best from your team. Contact us now if you need help.

Mental Health and the Workplace

Mental Health and the Workplace

Recently there has been a lot in the news regarding mental health. The passing of Greg Boyed prompted an outpouring of tributes by his journalist colleagues. One, by Rawdon Christie, called for managers to take more responsibility for the wellbeing of their employees.

There are some important reasons to make mental health a priority in the workplace:

  1. In NZ one in five adults experience some form of common mental health issue in any year. Almost two in five adults have experienced a mental health issue over their lifetime.
  2. Employee health affects the workplace and the workplace affects the health of employees. It is important for employers to understand the difference between pressure, which keeps us all going and makes us productive, and stress, which makes unmanageable demands that damage both employees and the business. There should also be an awareness that life outside of work affects the wellbeing of workers when they are at work.
  3. Workplaces are legally required to take all practicable steps to ensure the health and safety of their employees. Under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015, workplaces have a role to play in the prevention of harm to all people at work. This includes mental harm caused by work-related stress.
  4. A healthy work environment increases productivity and reduces employee turnover, stress, and personal grievance claims
  5. Workplaces feel the effects of poor mental health of employees through increased absenteeism and increased ‘presenteeism’ – when employees are at the workplace but not mentally engaged with work. It is estimated that on average, employees have nearly three times as many ‘presentee’ days as absentee days

Source: www.mentalhealth.org.nz

 

Your role as a manager

It’s crucial that managers are equipped to act or know where to turn if they have concerns about the mental health of an employee. There are a number of onsite and offsite courses from a variety of providers that teach the basics of ‘Mental Health First Aid’.

In addition to crises management, it’s also important to consider:

  • What support can and should you provide when an employee is struggling with their mental health?
  • How will you manage misconduct or disciplinary processes when there are mental health concerns?
  • How will you manage the return-to-work of an employee after time off due to a mental health issue?

Once you’re ready and prepared to support employees experiencing mental illness, then it’s time to consider how you can proactively promote mental health in the workplace. This might be as simple as organising a shared lunch, entering a team in a local sporting event, or organising a charitable donation for some of your team to deliver on behalf of your business. Check out five ways to wellbeing for employer resources, put together by the Mental Health Foundation.

Contact us to find out how we can partner with you to implement a mental health and wellbeing programme that suits the needs of your business and employees. 

Performance Reviews

Performance Reviews:

Staying in-touch and in-tune with your individual team members

 

Performance Reviews are hard to get right!

Whether you are the manager or the employee, there is often a sense of trepidation, dread or duty attached to them. Equally, we all know that they are important and are also highly valued by many employees.

As a result of these commonly held love/hate feelings, Performance Reviews bubble away as a current topic. Their worth is constantly being questioned and processes fine-tuned in an effort to improve engagement and generate a more positive perception.

 

What is the secret?

It would be fair to say that most people, to a lesser or greater degree, want some attention to be focused on them. Traditionally, Performance Reviews are conducted either annually or bi-annually. To stay in touch with team members’ personal feelings about their work, as well as their workplace aspirations, and their performance on the job, more communication than this is required.

Day to day interactions are, of course, important. They tend to be very much operational and concerned about the job at hand. They are necessary and facilitate and provide support to meet the demands that arise daily. But this is still not enough.

 

The most important key to unlocking great performance is to

Link the

Day to day inter-actions that occur between a manager and employee

with the

Performance Reviews

by holding

Regular scheduled one-on-one meetings with each person in your team.

 

This cyclical communication approach means that you are in close contact with your team members throughout the year. If you think through and conduct your individual One–on–One meetings in a standard way with regular topics up for discussion, then you will find that you are in-touch and in-tune with each team member throughout the year. You will be able to canvas all the important topics that are covered in Performance Reviews.

 

How do One-on-Ones actually work?

  • Decide on a standard format for your One-on-Ones
  • Customise this format to suit each individual member of your team
  • Work out the most appropriate scheduling of meetings that works for each individual relative to their need and the seniority of the job. Some need weekly meetings, some fortnightly, some monthly
  • Hold the meetings regularly!
  • Act on what is decided.
  • Cover the topics on a by-exception basis so that the One-on-One meetings are short, punchy and useful

By regularly holding the One-on-One meetings, the Performance Reviews simply become a more in-in-depth extension of them. One-on-One meetings provide a non-threatening and natural forum for current work issues, as well other important matters beyond the daily grind, to be raised, discussed and resolved. Come Performance Review time, discussion flows and real benefit from the annual or bi-annual “stand back” review is the outcome.

Introduce a system of cyclical one-on-one communication and performance reviews, and watch performance improve.

 

Keen to learn more? Positive People have tried and tested systems and formats across both Performance Reviews and One-on-Ones to help you improve performance. Contact us today at info@positivepeople.co.nz or 09 445 1077.