I used to run a marketing company which I sold to a big US firm. I had the opportunity of going to their annual conference in Minneapolis and (like any Brit would be) was surprised to read a sign above reception saying “Please leave any hand guns at reception and pick up when leaving”. I often think about this sign and how it applies to staff members leaving their personal issues and baggage at the front door and knowing it will still be there, for them to pick up, when they leave the office!
When we go to work we all have a duty to be consistent in our behaviours – regardless of what is going on in our personal lives – indeed in some cases, work becomes the safe santary when issues are occuring outside of work.
To be honest, I’m pretty blunt with my view on this – if you have a serious issue then you shouldn’t be in work, otherwise, park it and be consistent (as I say ‘be the best version of yourself you can be every day’) because sure as anything the issue will be the same, regardless of how you behave at work!
I had a recent conversation with a client who has an emotional member of staff and this member of staff likes to share her emotion around. Of course there are 100 reasons why she does this but if we become the ‘rescuer’ to this kind of behaviour then we are only adding fuel to their fire. What a great manager does is support their staff not rescue them. So they need to consider their language and approach carefully.
This issue starts (or stops) with a company’s culture: What is acceptable in the work place? What isn’t? Any new members of staff will quickly get a feel for this and understand what the parameters and boundaries are for acceptable behaviour. And not everything needs a company policy (e.g. personal phone calls) but a clearly defined culture and set of values (which define acceptable behaviours).
So if this issue effects your company consider carefully what is acceptable and of course, make sure you lead by example.