It happens to the best of us. Usually at the busiest, most hectic times. What is it? … Life. Life happens. Whether it’s a graduation and college orientation right in the middle of a budget season, a family illness during a critical external review, or a significant personal loss that makes focusing on the job at hand almost impossible …
As leaders of organizations, we have to remember that life happens, not only to us but, sooner or later, to almost every person who works for us. And while we expect others to understand when life happens to us, it can be really inconvenient when life happens to those who we are counting on to see a project through, or handle a delicate negotiation. After all, the job doesn’t stop just because the timing is inconvenient.
So what’s a leader to do? Set the tone. Model the golden rule. Extend a measure of grace when the situation calls for it. That’s not to say you won’t grit your teeth a bit and stress over how to fill the gap. After all, life happens at work, too. But in my experience, when staff see your commitment to putting family first, they willingly step in and fill the gaps left by their colleague, and in the process help create an environment of safety and support that ultimately increases both staff members’ productivity and their loyalty.
Work is important, but winning a single battle is meaningless if you don’t win the war. Is forcing someone to slog through at work when their heart and mind are somewhere else really going to help your organization in the long run? If the tables were turned, is that how you would hope your boss would handle the situation? Life happens. So cut yourself and those who work for you a bit of slack. It’s amazing how things fall into place when your priorities are in order.