We've all heard the phrase; “leave it at the door”, which is a warning that when you’re at work, you should focus on work. But we're human and we work with humans and we have lives and issues and sadness and joy and events and those aren’t easily shut off.
In the last year, I know of a couple who finalized their divorce, someone who lost their spouse, a couple who had to say their final goodbyes to their beloved pet, someone who lost a parent, and many people who lost their job. It’s a bit tough to be a robot in those situations. It's unrealistic to expect life not to seep into our work.
Bring your life to work.
Leadership is not daycare but we are not machines. To tell people to ignore their world isn’t realistic. Sure, we have to be mindful that deadlines need to be met, but the human condition can help our professional pursuits. Many claim a life/work balance is important but few act on it.
Allowing your team to bring life to work can open up possibilities. It can unlock their minds to include situations outside of their work environment. It can create free discussion and brainstorming that may help solve issues that are too close to the team because they’re trying to apply work related tactics. It can create a more malleable atmosphere which will be more enjoyable and efficient.
Bring your work to life.
This can panic some leaders who are used to conformed enterprise where co-workers focus linearly on actual tasks within a confined agenda. Change is scary and it’s much easier to manage rather than guide people to work freely and use all of their human experience during work hours. This is not to suggest your company becomes a free-for-all but nothing in work or life needs to be zero-sum.
We all want to be loved, noticed, and appreciated. We have fear and dreams; hopes, and plans. We all want to belong and feel purpose. We are them, you are me, they are us. It's not as difficult as it may appear. And a small shift can create the positive growth you may have been seeking by reminding everyone to focus on their job.
What happens in life affects what happens at work.