How to Help Colleagues Who Seem Off Their Game

By Harvard Business Review
February 27, 2019

The aim is for your co-workers to know they are not alone at work. It’s the kind thing to do, and it can benefit your own productivity.

When we think about productivity at work, we often think about how to motivate ourselves. But sometimes the people who are struggling to stay focused and engaged are our peers. And while it may not be an official part of your job description, helping a colleague — such as a physician who’s beginning to suffer symptoms of burnout — is the kind thing to do and can be beneficial to your own productivity.

Here are some things you can do to help a colleague through a rough patch:

Acknowledge: The first step is to let your colleague know that you’ve noticed he is off his game. Just letting the person know that you’ve noticed that he seems to be acting differently shows that someone is paying attention.

RELATED: Want to Help a Stressed-Out Colleague? Here Are Some Suggestions

Validate: You can also help your colleague by validating the difficulty of being productive. By talking openly about the times you’ve struggled with projects or had days when you felt like you were running at half-speed compared to everyone else, you’re showing her that she is not alone in what she is feeling.

Plan: If your colleague does talk with you about the factors that are limiting his or her motivation, it’s important to make the conversation productive. Help the person develop a plan for the future. You might help a colleague make the decision to pursue other opportunities or talk through small steps the person can take to make progress on his or her most important goals.

MORE: Articles on Physician Wellness, Resilience and Burnout Solutions

Of course, you don’t have to solve everyone else’s problems. And you need to be careful that helping your colleague doesn’t drain your energy or hurt your performance. The aim is for your co-workers to know they are not alone at work and to help them think about concrete actions they can take to get out of the doldrums.

Copyright 2018 Harvard Business School Publishing Corp. Distributed by The New York Times Syndicate.

Topics: Management

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