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How to Recognize and Address a Manager’s Mental Well-Being

Posted by Sandy Yu on 2.21.2019


Slowly but surely, the topic of mental well-being in the workplace is losing its stigma. More leaders are aware of issues negatively impacting employees and, as a result, resources are popping up at organizations everywhere.Unfortunately, stress is the workplace remains overwhelming for employees -- especially managers. An overwhelming 80 percent of employees stated that workplace stress affects their personal relationships in a recent Mental Health America report. Unfortunately, another 35 percent of employees "Always" miss three-to-five days a month because of workplace stress.

The added pressure and stressors managers deal with on a daily basis are dangerous when it comes to mental health. As they watch out for their employees, it’s critical that company leaders are effectively communicating with and caring for managers.

Here’s how you can recognize when your company’s managers need mental health help:

Watch their baseline performance

Mental health is incredibly important. Even if you just look at it from a numbers perspective, your team's mental health directly impacts the company's bottom line. But, more than that, people are the heart of your company and if you don't take care of them, your company will lose its soul.

An employee who has made it to manager has already demonstrated their abilities. This gives the executive team a fantastic ‘baseline pulse’ to measure or benchmark their later performance against. If you notice a manager's output dropping over a period of weeks, it's time for a check-in.

Don't begin with an attack! Find ways to ask about their personal life, workload, or any other concerns. And, don't make the whole conversation about fixing the problem, i.e. fixing your manager.200x200 headshot (4)

You can only help your manager with a genuinely caring approach. If you can help them with shuffling team dynamics or workload, fantastic. If the problem is personal and lies outside your ability to help, offer your sympathy.

Finally, if you see that your employee is truly on the path to a breakdown, suggest some paid time off. If possible, offer your employee paid-for therapy or an activity they personally find therapeutic.

Reuben Yonatan, Founder and CEO of GetVOIP

Focus on check-ins before managers are distressed

200x200 headshot (5)Often, upper-management doesn't think to check in on the mental well-being of their managers until they are manifesting signs of distress. It’s especially important to check in with your managers during times where workloads are increased.

Before checking in on them, it’s important to consider how changes in workload might affect management. In addition to checking in frequently, look out for changes to gauge their mental well-being. Keep an eye on the quality of work delivered, punctuality, and mood. Even keeping an eye on your manager’s eating habits could indicate if their mental health is suffering.

Matt Edstrom, CMO of GoodLife Home Loans

Watch for unusual changes

I work specifically with leaders and executives who are dealing with heavy loads, managing teams, fulfilling stakeholders’ expectations, and that's just the beginning. In order to accomplish these tasks and reach their goals, their own personal well-being is critical in determining their level of performance and productivity.

If a manager or leader is not taking care of themselves, they will not be able to manage those they lead as successfully. It's the "put your oxygen on first, then help others," idea.

Some signs to recognize in manager's who might be dealing with mental health or wellness challenges are:

  1. Changes in behavior (erratic, impatient, quiet, distanced, agitated, frustrated, etc.)

  2. Changes in performance (less productive, late to work, missed deadlines, decrease in effective communication, etc).

  3. Changes in personality. Perhaps they’re usually very participative in meetings, outgoing, energetic, motivated, and these traits appear to be different.

These types of workplace communications should be approached lovingly and compassionately. For example, "Hey, I just want you to know I am here for you. If you need anything, let me know." Or, "I noticed you falling a bit behind. Can I help you?"

Be sure to provide them support and options to receive help if they need it. Don't accuse them of having issues with mental health or wellness and, certainly, do not ever confront them based on how they look or act.

If you’ve given support and the state of their mental well-being continues affecting their performance or relationships, then it's important to meet with them one-on-one. Let them know which resources are available to employees in need.200x200 headshot (6)

Also, ensure the organization and teams have wellness programs, benefits, or resources that allow employees to take time off, relax, exercise, or whatever they need to do to stabilize their own personal well-being.

Jake Melton, Speaker and Coach at The J.B. Melton Group

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Topics: employee experience, workplace communication

Human Resources Today