Should I Share Personal Issues in the Workplace?

3 Realities to be Aware of When Your Personal Trials Affect Your Work

I’m a breast cancer survivor.  You may have your own cancer story. Or maybe your struggle looks completely different but has just as profoundly turned your world upside down.  The reality is, we will all encounter a personal issue that will intrude on our professional life more than we wish.  When your personal life slams into your professional life, how do you cope?  What is the right way to manage your personal issues in the workplace?sharing personal issues

Personal struggles come in many forms. It could be your own health, the health of a loved one, a significant financial set back, infertility, divorce, death, or a million other things that interrupt life and mess with your ‘normal’.

The reality is, someone you work closely with – your colleagues, your direct reports, your boss, or you, yourself – will most likely endure a significant trial sometime during the time you work with them. It’s important that you know the best way to handle that trial during your time in the office.

3 Realities Regarding Personal Issues and Professional Life

Let’s take a practical look at a topic that is fraught with emotion and turmoil.  There are 3 realities that you need to recognize to manage personal issues well.

  1. You need to continue to do your best at work no matter what you’re experiencing personally.
  2. You need to base your amount of transparency on the health of the corporate culture.
  3. You need to be supportive when someone shares their trial.

Continue to Do Your Best at Work

While you are at work, you need to be fully present at work.  You still have a job to do and your employer is counting on you to fulfill your responsibilities.  You may be carrying more emotional weight than normal, but that negative emotion should not consume all the great things you are still capable of.

People need you and that’s a good thing.  Be dependable and a hard worker to the extent you are capable in the midst of your trial.  Not only will this further confirm your abilities to your employer, it will also be a great source of victory to buoy you through the personal uncertainties.

Base Your Amount of Transparency on the Health of the Corporate Culture

I would love to tell you that your coworkers will always be supportive and caring during your personal trials.  However, this is not true of all corporate cultures.  Some organizations foster an environment that will make you feel ashamed or weak for whatever is going on in your life.  This, of course, is detrimental to organizations, beyond what they may realize.  (That’s one of the many reasons why the Talent Magnet Institute™ was formed.  Organizations must cultivate a culture that attracts and retains their talent if they want to be competitive.)

When you have a healthy, caring corporate culture, you can share your personal struggles and know you have just gained more supporters to encourage you through the dark times. I need to stress what was addressed in #1, you still need to do your best work, so you can’t derail the productivity of the department and sit around sulking, but being open with your colleagues creates an open environment that is very healthy and helpful.

Be Supportive When Someone Shares Their Trials

If you’re not the individual enduring a trial, be sure you are responding properly to the person who is.  The affected person is being vulnerable when they make their personal trial known; you want to affirm their trust in you.

I chose to share my breast cancer story and I was overwhelmed by the number of people who also had a cancer story.  I felt fortified by the many people who had dealt with it and were now stronger people because of it.  These people encouraged me in many ways – everything from antidotes for dealing with the fears, the hugs, and thoughtful emails.  This makes such a difference as you struggle.  This is the type of person you want to be as you support those around you.

If you are in a management role, you are uniquely qualified to set the tone for how personal trials will affect the workplace.  Model the right behavior.  If people have handled it poorly in the past, break the mold and start a new culture of transparency and openness.

Cultural Transformation Starts with Management

If you are in a management role and realize your organization is not one that is supportive and caring, do not wait for a personal trial to make a difference.  Recognize the need for your employees to feel like a team.  That means you care about them beyond what they are producing for financial gain.

A business leader should know each employee as a person.  A person who has a life outside of business hours.  If you know you need outside help to bring this about in your organization, we have the tools you need. We’d love to help make your organization a place that people want to work because you care.

Call us to start the transformation today.  888-366-3760

Jessica Baron

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