Have you ever known someone who leaves a great opportunity only to flounder and as a result never bounces back to a level that they were before? Perhaps they are the type to jump headfirst into the newest financial fad without thinking through the implications. Maybe they are constantly job hopping instead of taking time to plan out a true career journey.
There are times when we all could have benefitted from a person helping us see the larger picture before making a foolish or rash decision. Here are some ways that you can help protect your people from themselves when they need it most.
Keep a close connection when they are struggling
Sometimes it is quite easy to see when someone is struggling in their work or personal life. They act out, they may lower their level of care for themselves and others, or they may begin cutting themselves off from critical relationships among other signs. For others, the signs are much more subtle. Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon to hear someone say, “I didn’t know that they were struggling or had an issue,” until it was too late.
- Find the right balance: Are you figuratively smothering the person or do you need to be even more present with them? It’s hard to tell at times, and the level of connection needed can change depending on what the root cause of the other person’s struggle is. Adding to the complexity is the fact that we all need different amounts of quiet and space to process. Some great activities that always help include – taking care of some of their daily tasks, helping them get a change of scenery, and providing them with extra support. Make sure that the person is open to the help first.
- Listen or problem-solve?: Being there for someone will typically fall into one of two categories: helping them problem-solve through the situation or simply being present and available for the person. A great strategy here, for both home and work, is to just ask the question, “Do you want me to help problem-solve, or do you need a good listener right now?” This gives the person an opportunity to share what their need is and a clear direction for you during the conversation.
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A person may believe that they are making good decisions or acting in a way that props themselves up for success, or at a minimum, helps them move away from a situation that is not good for them. In reality, they may be unknowingly setting themselves up for failure.
Ever make a poor choice because you later learned that you were missing critical information? People have created irreversible harm to their relationships and careers because they were acting on skewed or incomplete information.
- Help your people see and understand the bigger picture. Speaking in anecdotes and what-ifs only can cause more confusion which leads to further disengagement down the path of a decision that can have unintended consequences on their career.
- There may be circumstances when you can’t share fully for a number of reasons. In this circumstance, let them know that you aren’t able to share any information at the current time, but give them a timeline of when you’ll follow up with them. Mark the time commitment in your calendar so that you don’t forget to re-engage on the topic.
Give them a chance to share their struggles
Providing the person the psychologically safe space to openly share their struggles is important. There is a high likelihood that the person firmly believes that some of their needs are not being met by the team or organization. Give them a chance to express their frustration and share what their needs or aspirations are. What you learn here may give you an easy path to set things right.
Give them a way back
Let’s say the person is a wonderful contribution to your team, but they end up moving on. Let them know that they will have a place on your team if they ever change their mind. Over the years, I’ve spoken to several people who left an organization, only to return. Their loyalty and appreciation are nearly always higher as a result. Be sure to help them work through any embarrassment that they may feel as they re-onboard with the team.
We should always want the best for those on our teams, and that sometimes means letting them move on to bigger and better things. In those times when a person may be making a hasty decision, move in to provide extra support to help prevent them from making a move that they will later regret.
Make a better tomorrow.