From Kelly in Connecticut
Dear Coach, we have a family member in our business who is the source of much frustration and energy for me and our employees. I’m afraid this family member may be suffering from depression or bipolar disorder and I’m not sure what to do. It’s causing a lot of challenges in the business and yet I don’t want to further compound their issues but feel like I need to do something.
Thanks for writing Kelly. These kinds of issues can be some of the most difficult to deal with in a family much less a family business. I like to think of mental health like diabetes or high blood pressure: as a medical issue and not a character flaw. While it’s a delicate issue to confront, it needs to be confronted from a performance standpoint. You need to pinpoint the behavioral issues that are causing frustration, and deal with those like you would with any other employee. Following your hunch that there may be a mental health issue, you should be prepared to gently broach that subject from the delicate human resources standpoint. You can’t force people to mental health providers but you can take a supportive posture of wanting to help employees be healthy and happy. We’ve faced this issue many times in coaching and simply tried to ask people about their happiness and encourage them to seek help from medical professionals if they are experiencing these kinds of issues. It’s not your role to diagnose or fix the problem but it is your role to make sure that your employees are healthy and productive regardless of whether or not they are family members or not. Failure to address this issue could cause bigger issues in the company. Family members should be treated and dealt with like any other employees whenever possible, even in a situation like this. Good luck I know how difficult this can be.