by Tracy L. Larson, MDE, MA, RCC
Yesterday I messed up big time. If I were working for someone else, I might have been disciplined and at the very least my competence questioned. I had booked a client for an appointment and I told him to come on Friday when I actually booked him on Saturday. I realized that and I contacted him and said come on Saturday instead. Whew! I thought I had it taken care of. Nope. It turned out that I told him to come at the wrong time. So … I lost a client due to my inability to focus and remember and pay attention to important details.
What was going on? I am not normally like that. A couple of days before that I had learned of a shocking, sudden death of a close family member. My brain responded to this news with shock, horror, and a decreased ability to concentrate or remember. I don’t work in a safety sensitive position – I am not giving out medication, operating on a person, or running dangerous machinery … imagine what sort of error I might have made in that situation?
In your workplaces, your staff are going through life and death issues like these all the time and their cognitive function becomes impaired. Grief can create temporary cognitive impairment as can other psychological issues such as depression, anxiety, stress, burnout, PTSD etc. This can lead to costly errors, decreased productivity, conflict between managers and employees, and dangerous mistakes.
So, if you notice your employees are not paying attention, or making unusual mistakes instead of disciplining them it might be a time to reach out and ask how they are doing. Referring the employee to their Employee and Family Assistance plan is helpful; however, as managers and supervisors you have a duty to respond within the workplace in ways to help the employee through these rough times. It is known as ethical leadership.
Want to know more about ethical leadership and how you can effectively respond when your employees are dealing with psychological health issues? Contact me: firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss your training needs.