Don't Ask Your Shop's Employees to Leave Their Problems on the Doorstep

By Bob Cooper

Since many business owners live by a number of failed business rules that have been around for decades. Among those rules is the one that says, “Employees shouldn’t bring personal problems to work with them.” Although there is some value in this statement, here’s where the rule is flawed: We all have challenges that come into our lives, and sometimes they can be overwhelming, to say the least. A critically ill family member is an example. To have an expectation that an employee can just flip a switch and turn off their thoughts and concerns over challenges such as a seriously ill child, is beyond just being unrealistic; it shows a lack of both understanding and compassion.

I have learned over the years that sometimes all an employee needs is someone who will listen to them, and in some cases, a shoulder to lean on. Please understand that I am not suggesting that you become an enabler, or act as a crutch for an unreasonable period of time. If an employee has ongoing issues, and if those issues begin to have a negative impact on the morale of others or on the productivity of your business, then decisions have to be made. It may be giving them a leave of absence, suggesting they take vacation time, etc.

I encourage you to let your competitors tell their employees that they need to leave their personal problems on the doorstep each day. I can only hope you bear in mind that people don’t go to work for companies, they go to work for people. On the same note, people don’t leave companies; they never have, and they never will. They leave people.

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