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How to Truly Support Your Team During Tough Personal Times

How to Truly Support Your Team During Tough Personal Times Blog Feature

Ramona Sukhraj

Associate Director of Content, Strategized Initiatives That Increased IMPACT’s Website Traffic From ~45K to ~400K

March 3rd, 2016 min read

how-to-support-your-team-members-during-tough-timesWhether it’s in the past, the present, or still yet to come, everyone goes through hard times.

The death of a loved one, perhaps an accident, or even a natural disaster; these things happen, and as much as we’d love to keep the personal and emotional effects of them separate from our professional lives, spillover is inevitable.

Like most millennials, I’ve been guilty of thinking tragedy never really hits close to home, but now I know that, when it does, it is absolutely devastating and can cloud all aspects your life.

Without going into painful detail, this month has been one of the most difficult I've ever experienced as I unexpectedly lost my younger cousin... more of my sister, really.

I continue to grapple with accepting what happened, but fortunately, I’ve had the shoulders of some amazing relatives and friends to cry on.

Moreover, I’ve thankfully had the comfort, support, and understanding of my team here at IMPACT.

As an employer, manager, or simply a member of a team, it can be difficult to know how to help pick up peers during times like these, which is why I’ve put together this article.

No matter what your role at your organization, below are four ways you can support your team and help them do their best even during the worst of times.

1. Be Flexible

Everyone has his or her own way of dealing with grief. Traditions vary from culture to culture and even more so person to person. So, be flexible.

Understand that someone may not be working their normal schedule and some deadlines may need to be moved.

During difficult times, people may be spending more time with their family, sleeping less than usual, or simply need time to get their head back in the game.

Whatever it may be, offer your team member some leniency during this time. Having someone in the office or hitting a deadline isn’t worth it if they’re distraught, exhausted, or delivering subpar work under a time crunch.

2. Offer Emotional Support

Depending on your office culture and team dynamic, it may hard to gauge how personal is too personal when it comes to a team tragedy, but always offer emotional support.

Even if the peer doesn’t seem like the emotional type, they are human. Letting them know that you understand what they’re going through and are there if they need anything can make the world of difference.

If its within your company's means, you can also sending flowers, a gift, or offering counseling or other medical aid. 

-- But Don’t Put Them in a Bubble. (Create a Sense of Normalcy)

The last thing someone wants during a difficult time is to be constantly reminded of it. Going through one myself, I can safely say that returning to my normal routine and seeing my coworkers has helped me cope and keep my mind off of things.

So, don’t treat your peer like they’re made of glass. Be sensitive to their situation and feelings, of course, but don’t be afraid to keep things lighthearted and as normal as possible. Make them smile, joke with them, or if you have that kind of relationship, even poke fun at them. ;)

For most people, having a moment of laughter will be more than welcome.

3. Stay on Top of Your Work

With so much to think about personally, the worst thing you can do as a teammate is not stay on top of your own work.

If your manager or teammate is going through a personal tragedy, work as diligently as you would as if they were in the office. Doing this will help ensure that they don’t have to worry about things not getting done, or coming back to a trainwreck that needs to be put back on track.

Dependability is one of our core values here at IMPACT and during tough times, it is more important than ever. Your team should be able to rely on you to get things done (if they can be) and pick up right where they left off.

4. Be Willing to Pick Up Their Slack

In addition to staying on top of your own work, be willing to pick up your coworker’s slack. Times of grief are usually unexpected and out of our control.

Be there for your teammate and be willing to do what you can to make their lives easier when life throws them a curveball. Though we hope it won’t be so, you never know when you may need them to return the favor.

Key Takeaway

In today’s world, we often spend more time with our coworkers than we do with our own families. Because of this, while there should be a certain degree of professionalism in your office, there must also be compassion. During times of tragedy, put yourself in your teammate’s shoes and ask yourself what kind of support you would need during that time. I am grateful that my team did. 

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