Dealing with team member's personal issues!

One of the most important things a leader has to face is conflict. Sometimes conflict happens between team members, other times you may be involved in conflict with one of your staff members. Other times, however, conflict is internal. One of your team members is dealing with personal conflict -issues at home, with family or partner, health, etc. 


You may think that addressing individual conflict shouldn’t be on your “leadership to-do list”. However, it’s sometimes difficult to separate the personal and professional spheres. This means that if one of your team members is distracted by something personal, it can have a direct effect on his or her job. 


It’s also important to remember that a good team leader cares about the people as people. Therefore, creating a safe space to talk and open up will help you earn your team member’s trust. 


You can’t help them solve their personal problems but most of us can do at least three things to provide support: 


1. Reassurance. 

In many cases, your team member knows he or she is doing poorly at work. Make sure the person knows that you understand what they’re going through and remind him how valuable they are for the team. They’ll feel relieved and eventually bounce back when everything settles back in place, without feeling guilt for underperforming. 


2. Unburdening. 

Try to take off some professional burden so that your team member can concentrate on the personal issues. Think in terms of the type of support you could need in a similar situation and bring the rest of the team on board to help him or her go through this. You could even suggest some paid or unpaid leave. 


3. Reminders of professional help available. 

Support and orient them on the different ways they can get professional help. You can point out that needing professional help at particular times in life is something common and nothing to be ashamed of. Also, timely professional help can be extremely helpful. If appropriate, remind him or her of the plans and options covered by the organization. 

It’s important to show your care and support to your team member going through a rough spot. You can always lend a sympathetic ear and be understanding with what he or she is going through. However, you need to know your limits and identify when you need to refer them to HR or remind them that professional help is available. Establishing your limits is important for the team and for you individually, as you need to take care of yourself first.  


Have you faced a situation where you needed to deal with a team member’s personal conflict? How did you handle it? Share in the comments or on our Facebook page!