Help me help a staff member with mental health and performance problems
April 24, 2014 5:49 AM Subscribe
One of my team has been absent from work for the past month with mental health issues (details over the fold). They will be returning to work next week, and I'd like to be a good boss and support this return as best I can - while still keeping a functioning team and taking on some of the performance issues that were present before they left. Your recommendations and experiences please?
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (11 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
The person concerned became ill while I was away on holidays. When I came back, all I could learn from folks at work was that she had started to suffer side effects from medication about a week after I left, and had taken time off to recover from these and transition to a new medication. In some emails I receved from her subsequently she also told me this.
As part of discussing how she would return to work (she's now been away about 6 weeks), we met up this morning and she revealed that she has had depression all of her adult life which was not treated until about 10 years ago. She had started to react to the medication she was taking (don't know what it is), and attempted suicide in mid-March (this was the fourth time she had tried to take her own life, but it had been five years since the last attempt).
She has been seeing a psychiatrist weekly since then, and has transitioned to a new medication which she says is making her feel much better and back on balance. She has discussed returning to work with her psych and doctor and they have agreed that it will help her get back to "normal". She appears to have a supportive group of people around her, including health professionals and her husband.
I'm happy to support her returning to work and I'm honored that she trusted me enough to tell me what was going on. However, before all this happened, I had a number of issues with her performance in the workplace which I was only part-way to tackling. The work she produced was great, but she avoided responsibility for making decisions, wouldn't ever step up to fill a gap, wasn't providing development opportunities to those she supervised and letting them learn, and generally always wanted to be on 'special projects' where she didn't have to work with others rather than taking on more of the routine work (she occasionally got paranoid about particular people, not me, thinking they were out to get her). These had been flagged with her but not tackled in any depth.
I'm now feeling woefully inadequate to support her like a decent human being should, but also to do my duty as a manager (and to other team members) and tackle the performance issues.
I'd like to hear from MeFites who have experience in any or all of the above - have you returned to work after a major mental health problem? What helped and what didn't? Have you been in the same position as a manger? Do you know of some stuff I should read?
(the HR area has been less than helpful and all the advice they have given is basically, cover your ass, cover the organisation's ass, document everything, don't get us sued).