Discover more from How to Lead Everybody (with their permission)
Life Outside of Work
Your people sometimes need to be their own people
Remember when you were a kid and you’d see a teacher at the supermarket or a restaurant or something, and it was weird to you because it had never occurred to you that they didn’t live in the school?
Hopefully, you’ve gained some perspective as you’ve matured. But too often, bosses treat their employees like work-life is their only life.
Don’t be a boss like that.
If natural empathy and consideration are not “first thought” for you, consider the outside-of-work lives of your people as recharging stations for their energy, focus, and motivation. Recognize that your people’s outside-of-work responsibilities and activities (spouse/partner, kids, pets, hobbies, homes, activities with friends, etc.) are probably the reasons they work for you. They need that paycheck for those things.
So, when something in their outside-of-work life needs more of their attention, be the boss who reasonably accommodates that need. If someone needs to take a personal day because of a family health issue, adjust accordingly. If someone is upset or distracted at work and you call them into your office to ask what’s wrong, give them the opportunity to open up (without telling them, “So, what you need to do is…”). But also respect their boundaries if they DON’T want to open up—they may want their private life to remain private.
Here’s the thing. If you are not accommodating when your people have outside-of-work issues that require their attention, you end up with a distracted, error-prone, non-productive version of that employee doing poor-quality work. If you can help them out with reasonable accommodations (e.g., “Can I please work from home today? My kid has a fever.”), your people feel valued, respected, and loyal to such an understanding boss. This generates higher morale and retention. The short-term loss of productive hours will be made up in later productivity. And when your own outside-of-work life needs your attention, your people will have your back and step up to keep the wheels on while you are handling things, as well.
You showed them how.