Have you ever tried to detach your professional life from your personal life? Then you know how difficult it is to accomplish. Despite your best attempts to keep the two separate, the quality and stability of your personal life often have a direct impact on the quality and success of your professional life. In fact, it is said that for many people, their professional lives tend to reflect their personal lives.
It’s quite all right for your professional life to mirror your personal life if that life is secure and fulfilling. You should have a productive and rewarding professional life because you will be able to bring the positive characteristics present in your personal life to your work life as you direct your energy and attention to your job responsibilities. However, if you have a lot of negativity n your personal life, your career will suffer.
If you are unable to keep the problems in your personal life from spilling over into your professional life, you may be passed over for promotions or may lose your job. As unfair as this may seem, if you allow your personal problems to jeopardize your employment by diminishing your productivity, most employers will not maintain your employment.
On the other hand, your ability to proactively and successfully resolve personal and family issues without impacting your ability to perform on the job is viewed as an indicator that you are likely to handle difficult situations on the job in an efficient way.
There are employers who understand that there are times when personal circumstances beyond an employee’s control may affect the employee’s job performance, and will try to assist the employee, either directly or indirectly.
However, employers have expectations of employees who are experiencing personal problems that are likely to affect job performance.
1. Employers expect employees to deal with personal problems on their own and to ask for assistance only with the most serious issues
2. Employer expect employees to make a reasonable effort to get help if it is needed.
3. If the problem causes the employee to be absent from work periodically, employers expect the employee to cooperate with attempts to find a solution, such as engaging a temporary replacement or assuming a modified work schedule to prevent a disruption in service.
If you find yourself in a situation where personal problems are threatening to jeopardize your employment, the following steps will enable you to meet your employer’s expectations while taking charge of your personal life:
1. Separate the major problems from minor problems.
If you view every life event as a major problem or an “emergency” that distracts you from focusing on your job responsibilities and requires time away from work to address it, your productivity will decline and your employer will lose patience. You should not expect your employer to accept a reduction in your productivity every time you have a personal problem. Although an employer will help you if the situation warrants assistance, you are expected to deal with your personal issues on your own.
Therefore, before you bring a personal crisis into the workplace, decide whether it is serious enough to require assistance from your employer. While you may expect compassion and even assistance when dealing with major problems such as the death of a spouse or a catastrophic illness; you should not expect the same kind of support for minor problems such as the illness of your pet or a leak in your home.
2. Get help if you need it.
Although an employer may be understanding, it is your responsibility to resolve your personal problems, even if it means getting help from outside sources. However, the most difficult thing for many people to do is admit they need help. They view asking for help as a sign of weakness, when in reality the opposite is true.
If you are experiencing a personal problem that requires outside assistance, you should seek help. There are services available in most communities or through your employer.
3. Work with your employer to find solutions.
When you do have a major problem that is affecting your job performance, it helps to tell your supervisor about it as quickly as possible. Trying to keep it a secret or hoping no one will notice may increase the stress, thereby impeding your ability to deal with the problem outside the job.
When you decide to discuss your problem with your employer, you should have some possible solution that would work for both you and your employer. You could suggest that you be temporarily assigned to another department or maybe you could arrange to switch schedules with another worker which will give you the time you need to deal with your problem.
If you show that you understand and respect the organization’s objectives and are prepared to cooperate with your employer as you resolve your personal problems, the employer will usually try to help you.
Employers expect their employees to stay focused on accomplishing the mission of the organization. Taking charge of your personal life will contribute to meeting the expectations of your employer, and go a long way in assuring your continued employment.
Syble James, MBA, is President of Alpha Health Source, a retailer of health and fitness products and services, online at http://www.alphahealthsource.net
She conducts consultations and writes analyses on issues in the food and beverage, VMS, MLM, and fitness industries for Gerson Lehrman Group. Ms. James also writes for other online publications and provides research and consultation services for individuals.