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Life is constantly evolving, and sometimes it can take the most turns with little advance notice or warning. Although professionalism teaches us that an individual should leave his personal problems at home, the truth is that what happens outside work often affects what happens at work.
Many professionals keep their personal issues to themselves and hope that their leader and teammates won’t realize there is a performance impediment or a change in behavior. But great employees understand the value of sharing their issues or problems with a trusted leader to help them through tough times. In fact, being open about personal matters can improve team performance and communication.
How to talk to your leader about personal issues
Real leadership is about knowing how to use resources to achieve the best results. When a leader recognizes a problem in an employee’s life, he or she will often mobilize resources to help the employee during a time of need.
Employees should think carefully about what and how they share personal information with their leader and teammates, but when done well, the employee can be encouraged and supported, generating loyalty and enhancing team success even during the most challenging moments. Here are some tips to consider before talking to your leader.
1. Be aware of the problem and talk to your leader as soon as possible.
One mistake many team members make is navigating a problem or issue on their own for an extended period of time before asking for help. The sooner you identify and discuss the problem, the sooner you can find a solution. Often the leader knows that something is going on with the employee because his performance is declining. It is much better to make your leader aware of the problem early on so that they do not guess what the problem is affecting your performance.
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2. Be honest about the problem and share what you’re doing to help solve it
Many leaders find it helpful to help employees professionally and find value in helping the employee through difficult personal times as well. Often the leader wants to know what the employee did to solve or mitigate the problem on their own. Business is a form of partnership, and in times of personal hardship, the leader would like to know what the employee did to solve the problem. Be upfront about all the resources and ideas you’ve explored to solve the problem to earn your leader’s trust and partnership to help you wherever possible.
3. Be prepared to request a specific accommodation to help solve your problem
Leaders are often more willing to meet an employee’s specific needs when it makes sense from a personal and business perspective. Consider how residency can affect work performance and which team members may have to do more because of the residency. Facilities are part of business operations, and an employee should never feel bad when discussing the possibilities with his or her leader.
4. Be grateful for the support and be ready to help others in the future
One of the main steps an employee can take during a conversation about accommodations is to communicate how they hope to help other employees in the future. Team members can enhance team confidence when they are thankful to others for their support during a personal hardship and express their desire to give back in the future.
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Although no one enjoys asking for help, openness can create better communication between teams and build trust. Asking for accommodations from a leader or company may seem daunting, but it will allow the leader to understand the under-performance from a great employee and do what they can to help.