Leave It On The Hanger

Brian Beck PHR, MHROD
October 21, 2008 — 1,871 views  
Become a Bronze Member for monthly eNewsletter, articles, and white papers.

Do you have personal problems at home?  Has your car broken down lately or had problems?  Is your marriage going well?  Is your teenager acting up?  Do you have financial woes?  Is your roof leaking in yet another spot?  Do you feel fat?  I could go on and on, but the point is that all of us have issues and problems in our lives.  It's safe to say in fact, that all of us have some kind of crisis, small or large, going on each day.  Now, consider that 50% or more of your allotted hours per week are spent at work.  What are the chances that you will bring some of these problems into the workplace?  The answer is.....pretty darn good.  Do those who report to us have similar problems?  Yes, in fact they do.  Should we ask our employees to turn off those issues when they come to work, or better yet, just suppress those problems, leave them on the virtual hanger on the door and pick them up on the way out at the end of the day?  We shouldn't expect that at all.

"Hang your problems on the virtual hanger right there on the door as you come into work," was the kind of HR guy I once was.  Your personal problems are your own and neither I nor my organization has the time or resources to deal with them.  "Just don't let these issues affect your work time and productivity."  What a crazy and completely insane statement to offer to those who work for you.  I was indeed, a young and inexperienced HR person at that time.  I have since learned that as employers, we should be encouraging and fostering the exact opposite.  Listen and look for opportunities to get involved in your employee's personal problems!  I'm not talking about a super deep level here.

How do you inspire your teams to new heights of productivity and focus?  You get involved in their lives, even the bad times.  Love and inspiration, that is what the next generation of workers wants from you as their leader!  It's just that simple...no magic formula, no fancy spreadsheets, no discussion committees, just love and inspiration.  Knowing their personal lives at some level, shows you listen, care, and really "understand" those that work for you. 

It's not fair for leaders and managers in organizations to ask their employees to leave their personal problems, issues, whatever they may be at home.  People bring these things to work.  In my fifteen years of HR work, I've been approached countless numbers of times by managers asking what they should do with the depressed, sluggish, apparently disengaged employee.  My response to those managers is to simply talk to them!  Talk to these folks, learn what the problems are, work through solutions to those problems with them.  You owe it them!  Show you care, toss out the hangers, and embrace a caring attitude that will in turn, produce both personal and organizational returns you couldn't have imagined.

Brian Beck PHR, MHROD


Brian J. Beck, PHR, M.H.R.O.D., has worked in the human resources field for over 15 years, focusing on recruitment/retention, HR strategic planning, organization and leadership development.