This is a question managers ask themselves every day. They often don’t voice it out loud but show it in their actions. For example, let’s say that you have a single mother working for you that has small children. Her issue is that one of her children has been sick lately and that has caused her to be late or absent so much that it’s affecting her productivity. What do you do? Do you quote the corporate line for X number of tardies or absences? What if she’s one of your better producers but is just going through a tough time right now? What if you have children of your own? Can you feel her pain? Do you even want to? If you acknowledge what she’s dealing with, will you appear soft? Will others take advantage of your compassion?
All of these questions appear to have validity and actually do to some extent. But the correct question managers should ask is, “What is the right thing to do that helps my employee solve this problem?” It’s perfectly ok to have compassion and understanding. These are the two traits that will launch your career to higher levels. Work together with your employee to find a solution to the problem. You may know resources for childcare that she doesn’t know about. She may just need a sounding board. Showing you value her contributions and are willing to work with her will demonstrate to your entire team that you are a common sense manager and more importantly, that you do care about each person.
Don’t be a robot and just quote the corporate policy. She already knows it and is already feeling intense pressure. Solving problems is what you are paid for. Start looking for solutions by caring. Your efforts will be rewarded over and over by your team! Managers that care are always better!