Managing an employee who is going through a stressful period personally can be a big challenge for bosses. Handling these situations well as a manager often means you need to be compassionate and empathetic whilst also being professional and constructive.
Keep it professional:
It is often useful to remember that you are still the employee’s manager and not their friend. If the line between manager and friend is blurred, it can make it difficult for you to take a stance and do what is best for the rest of the team and business down the line. If you become too entangled in the employee’s problem, it can make it harder for you to have a serious and upfront discussion about work, which could then damage productivity.
You often don’t know how much the employee is comfortable with sharing, so to avoid making things uncomfortable, make sure you don’t ask invasive questions. This will also prevent you from becoming too involved in the situation beyond the professional level.
If an employee comes to you with a problem, it can be helpful if you listen to them without interrupting to assure them that you are aware of the situation so you can understand and act accordingly. This could prompt a productive discussion to consider work solutions that are appropriate for the employee and the business.
Offer appropriate assistance:
Make a judgement on what the employee needs depending on the situation and act accordingly. This could include reducing their workload, adjusting their work schedule or allowing them to take leave.
You can occasionally check in with your employee by sending a brief email or asking them in person. This doesn’t have to delve into the details of their personal troubles; you can ask questions like ‘do you feel you’re handling everything okay?’ or ‘have the solutions we talked about been helpful?’. This can help your employee feel supported and comfortable at work.