Let’s face it, owning a shop is not always a piece of cake. With answer the phones, paychecks, inventory, purchasing/receiving products, while still doing the work, it’s not easy. When you mix in the management role of employees, it gets even harder.

Regardless of how large or small your shop is, eventually you will have an employee who is having a personal crisis. Sure, you could ignore it, or you could be sympathetic and supportive, but there really is more to it. Here’s some tips to help you guide your employee through the difficult time, and still helping everyone get the job done.

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1) Remember You’re Not Their Friend, You’re The Boss
Sounds cruel, right? If you blur the line between manager and friend, you will have a hard and difficult situation later. Should your employee struggle with their personal issue for a longer period of time, you could set yourself up as the therapist and not the manager. Then, when/if their performance suffers, you are in a tough position knowing so much personal information. Instead, enable the employees to address personal issues easily, but also maintain a consistency and order for the shop. Give them time off to deal with the issue so they don’t bring the customers down too. 

2) Establish Backups
Most people who are dealing with a personal crisis need time to regroup and get everything sorted out, usually without the stress of work on their shoulders. If you can provide time off, do that. If you can’t, give them flexibility for their schedule. Sit down together and plan a schedule. If the employee needs time for doctor appointments due to their own personal illness, let them know they won’t be docked time if they can make it up. If they need to take off two days a week for 3 months straight, work out the schedule. Planning out the schedule gives your employee flexibility, peace of mind, and in the long run will give you a valued employee too.  Of course, there is the an exception to the rule: If the employee takes advantage of the flexibility. There’s a limit to how much time the employee can take without sacrificing personal performance and the shop performance as well. It’s up to you, the manager/owner, to plan the right mix. Sometimes it is also a good idea to let your other employees know what the new schedule is, but get approval from the employee dealing with the personal crisis. Alerting others will reduce the stress on everyone involved.

3) Support
Making your employee feel comfortable and supported at work is a subtle and yet powerful gesture. Checking in every so often with your employee to see how they are doing is key. Even though there is nothing you can really do, letting your employee know you are concerned is enough.

Although many attempt to keep personal life separate from work life, there is cross over, especially in a small work place such as a locksmith shop. Creating an atmosphere of compassion and understanding, while still maintaining professional boundaries, is not easy but necessary.
© Copyright IDN, Inc.

Kathleen Kempf is the Marketing Manager at IDN-H. Hoffman.