So the other day, a young gal that works with me came by asking if we could talk. I said “sure, what’s up,” expecting details of a new project she needed resources for.
This was a different conversation. She’s asked me to speak with her privately.
Someone very close to her had passed away the night before. She didn’t feel close to anyone on her team, and was worried her supervisors would be upset if she went home since she had been out sick the week prior.
I was immediately mortified. Not about the story but because for one, she should have never cone to work that morning, and two, her own team wasn’t compassionate enough to discuss this with.
I should state here, I do not work in HR. The company I work for is small and between HR people, which I believe is always a mistake. Even when someone leaves, freelance coverage should be priority.
Back to my story.
My number one priority was to console this weeping girl. The first thing out of my mouth was “go home.” I told her that she shouldn’t be at work, and that she needs to always remember, home and family is always more important than work. Always.
This girl is about 23, this is her first job out of college. What message is she being sent by her team that makes her think that she needs to come to work while severely bereft? Why are her seniors so distant and cold, and possibly terrifying that she chose me out of a hat to tell her circumstance to?
Look, I take it as a source of pride that my door is always open so to speak, and that people feel they can talk to me. I’m a compassionate person. I really do care. I can’t fathom being so distant from the people that report to me that they’re afraid of what would happen if they had an emergency.
Fear is not a way that one should lead. It doesn’t bring great returns. It doesn’t foster progress and loyalty. And it certainly won’t help your corporate culture.
There is so much more to be said for a little kindness and warmth. I’m not saying you shouldn’t be authoritative and firm, but there has to be a mix. And that mix has to be used regularly.