in the Workplace
To put ’emotion’ in the same sentence as ‘workplace’ is probably thought by most administrators as blasphemy. You shouldn’t mix them up in any way. But, as all of us know, emotions happen. It’s human and it’s also unavoidable especially when you consider how many hours adults spend in the work environment.
So how do we cope with emotion in the workplace? Let’s begin with the administration.
Let’s say you are a manager of an office center, lots of cubbies, lots of hustle and bustle in the workspace. As you are heading to your office, you pass by your assistants’ desk, only to notice she has her back to you and is obviously crying. Six out of ten HR directors tell you to stop and ask if you can help. If the person says ‘yes’, ask them into your office where you can have a private conversation and address the situation.
But would You do this?
The same survey says no. Not if you are in the 80% of managers and supervisors in the United States poll. Which boils down to only 2 people out of 10 would stop and ask if they could help. Take it a step farther, and of those 2, only 0.5 would take action after they heard their workers problem.
Are we to assume management doesn’t want to get involved in their employees’ affairs? After all, emotion in the workplace is usually a sticky mess and a very ‘public’ situation. But what if this emotional breakdown were due to an event which happened at work? Eventually, this occurrence will cause some type of discourse in the workplace, either by water cooler talk, gossip, back-stabbing, or amplified repercussions of the event and people involved. And if not, well, taking care of fellow workers should be as important to an administrator as keeping the coffee fresh and hot.
In any case, if not addressed, it causes people to abandon their tasks and disrupts workflow.
Let’s try the other side of the coin.
Say you are the assistant with your back to the world. Don Juan just called you into his cubby and said he needs to take the next week off to travel to his mother’s home for a health issue she is dealing with.
You discover Don’s mom has been diagnosed with the same malady as your mom suffered from last year. You know it isn’t going to take a week; he’ll be lucky if he’s back in the office in a month.
You also realize the new project you are undertaking won’t move along at the projected timeframe without him being a key part of the process.
Lastly, anyone else who is available to help you on ‘said’ project is either busy with other tasks or doesn’t possess the skills to work on this particular undertaking.
Frustration takes over, your son texts you and says he is staying at his dad’s again, for the 5th night this week, and you’re pretty sure he is punishing you for not letting him take your car upstate last weekend.
My point with these possibilities is this … either of these situations could, and have, occurred in companies all across the country. Small and large cities, corporations as well as partnerships – people have emotions and will have to deal with them at work, and sometimes, day in and day out.
As company owners and administrators, we need to make a commitment to our co-workers and employees to support them with issues both at the office and outside those doors. Without support, which must be compassionate and completely private, our employees become resentful, paranoid, disgruntled, negative, irritable, and at the very least, unpleasant to work with. These emotions turn viral, and before you know it, you have a staff who is at your throat and hating their jobs without even knowing what really started the problem in the first place.
As employees and workforce staff, we have to be aware that perhaps, we don’t know all the options. If we feel we can trust our supervisors and managers to help us when situations arise beyond our abilities, we show them we are concerned about our jobs and strive to do the very best we can with the given situations. By asking for support, often supervisors can solve the problem easily if given enough time and dedication from the people involved.
By keeping an open door and by being very forthcoming in soliciting communication in the workplace (business related or not), we develop trust in our company and give everyone respect and importance. By asking and pursuing help with problems in the workplace, everyone is involved in resolving issues and solving problems.