One of the hardest things anyone will face in life is the loss of a loved one. As life continues to revolve around you, you may sometimes feel as if time is standing still while you try to cope with your loss. Having recently lost my dog, Brooklyn, I myself have had to deal with this overwhelming sense of grief at times. As we try to get through the day, simple tasks sometimes become burdens and we sometimes find ourselves slogging through.
As managers and leaders tasked with the well-being of employees we should understand that not all grief, and how it is processed, is the same; no two people or situations will be alike. In a company with policies and procedures, this can be difficult to understand and deal with. As problem solvers, many of us want a solution for all the issues we face. Believe it or not, there is no real secret or road map to getting through these moments. We should do our best to listen and understand that each person deals with things differently. A leaders greatest calling is dealing with change, which is exactly what loss is. This is the opportunity to deal with this change in a positive and supportive manner while leading your team through these moments.
The biggest skill we can have during these moments is empathy. While most people understand empathy and its benefits, it is a skill we often do not practice or grow on a regular basis. As leaders of people we should explicitly work to enhance our ability to empathize with others. No other skill will allow us to relate to those in need during their greatest times of need. One of the greatest practice of empathy is to just listen. Really listen to your team member in need if they need it and give them the support if they ask for it. Don't be afraid to offer support or counseling if you feel it is needed. A kind word really does go a long way.
While it may be tempting to try to go back to "normal" as soon as possible and feel some frustration when it doesn't, if you really listen you may learn that a sense of normalcy is right around the corner for some. Give your employees the time and support they need to go back to being the superstars you know they are. For anyone going through a moment like this, know that there are outlets for help from organizations such as the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. Please reach out to someone if you feel you need help; you are not alone.
About the author
As the founder of Advisable, Gregg Perez combines his love and passion to help law firms, start-ups, and companies of varying size reach their best potential with the experience gained from working with Fortune 500 companies, law firms, and start-ups. As an Administrator, COO, VP and consultant, he brings years of consulting and real life experience to the table for his clients. Gregg is also a former US Army Cavalry Scout and once beat Contra without the Konami Code.