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Showing Support for Your Employees

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A good manager creates conditions that are conducive to employee success. Both personal and professional factors can create challenging situations for workers that can become "perfect storms" of stress. These include off the job events like a death in the family, a divorce, or a new child. Examples of internal situations are personality conflicts in the workplace or disagreements over policy. When you are managing a team, one of the admonitions is not to choose favorites or take sides. But there are certain situations where you are called on to support your people and go to bat for them. Here are some guidelines to follow when these conflicts arise.

Send a Flex Message
Being flexible when the need arises shows that you value your employees and are willing to make exceptions. Think of situations like a worker having to leave early for a class or dealing with transportation issues involving their children. Allowing the individual to alter his or her work schedule reduces stress and maintains productivity. Granting people the right to work from home can be successful when it is properly structured. If other higher ups or coworkers question the arrangement, discuss it openly with them. Be sure the employee understands that this is a two-way street and they must keep up their end of the bargain.

Support a Balance
The balancing act between employees' work and personal lives can sometimes be hard to manage. Make it clear that you respect their need for boundaries demarcating professional obligations from personal ones. If you require someone to put in overtime or work weekend hours that will infringe on personal time, give them as much advance notice as possible. Remember that attending non-mandatory after work functions is the employee's prerogative, and they may feel like they need time away from colleagues.

Behind Closed Doors
Inevitably, disagreements at work crop up. Addressing personality conflicts and confusion over work roles is vital to your success as a manager. Your job is to de-escalate clashes and ensure that disagreements don't flair into feuds. Employees may also have issues over company policy that must be dealt with. Usually the best way to resolve a conflict is in private with the parties involved. Discuss the situation and get both sides of a story without being accusatory or getting personal. Listen actively and attentively and try to get the employees to understand each other's point of views and to meet in the middle, or compromise. Let your workers know that you support them without taking specific sides in a matter.

Dealing with Illness or a Death
When an employee becomes ill and misses extended periods of work, the individual or family members should be contacted to decide what medical information should be shared with other workers. Sending supportive cards and raising funds are a few of the ways colleagues can show support. In the event of a death, let employees know about the deceased as soon as possible. Recognize that individuals will go through their own grieving process, which is painful and normal. Holding a memorial service, creating a memory book or setting up a fund for donations are constructive ways to help workers grieve collectively.

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