Keeping Tabs on People's Private Lives


As a manager you're responsible for people, that they know what is expected of them, that they have right tools, processes, and knowledge to do their job, that they are fairly compensated for their efforts, and that they generally feel good coming to work and cooperate with their colleagues. But quite often caring for people extends beyond confines of office space to the realm of people's private lives, since professional and personal aspects of one's life are rarely 100% separated. I've learned about this aspect of management already at a tender age as my father was supervising a large department and he was discussing many personal issues of his employees over family lunch with my mother. In particular I remember his efforts to resocialize a former convict by finding him a date. The particular endeavor didn't end particularly well (the man got tempted and started stealing again), so I learned young the limits of involvement in people's personal lives. But my father taught me that efficient management of people requires understanding also their personal lives. I remember very well another episode from a few years ago. This young boy was one of the most diligent, reliable, and hard working employees I ever worked with. But one sunny May day he just didn't show at work. He was not answering my calls for several hours, which got me really worried that some accident might have happened. When he finally picked up the phone, I could sense immediately from his voice that we are dealing with the matters of the heart. I gave him three days off which got him back in shape. In my career, I've managed quite some people already so I saw people falling in love and loosing their heads for some time, people grieving, people with stress-induced back pain, and people responsible for critical money-making infrastructure having severe cycling accidents and no back-ups. Keeping tabs on people's personal lives is essential if you want to act reasonable as managers and not ask from people what they are incapable to deliver under their present circumstances.