Even if you want to pretend that you can compartmentalize them.
I never had personal problems that impacted my business life.
Until I did.
I was going through a divorce with a two-year old and a five-year old. My then husband and I worked together. I sold my half of the company to him for peanuts so he would let me move out of state with our children. This needed to be arranged because I hated where we lived and what I was doing and I was so miserable that I couldn’t get out of bed in the morning. I was afraid that I might die. And there was more.
I had to arrange for half of our belongings to be moved across the country.
I had to find a new house to rent. I had to get a new job so I could afford said house. I had to enroll my daughter in day care and my son in kindergarten and find after-school care, because my new job didn’t end at noon.
I had to find a lawyer to help me with my custody case. And I had to lease a new car, because mine kept inconveniently breaking down.
New friends were in order. And not easy to find.
There was the need for a new pediatrician. A new doctor for me, too.
Believe it or not, there were more gory problems and wretched details. I won’t bore you with them here because they are too damn depressing. It made me cry just writing about this; I cried for my 31-year old self.
Everyday I showed up at my new job in a near catatonic state. In the space of less than a year, I had completely blown up my life all the while thinking I would be okay and that I could manage it all. I wasn’t and I couldn’t. At least not then.
Which brings me to the point of this post.
If you are going through an existential crisis or a profound life/health/financial challenge or even just a rough patch in your personal life, you owe it to yourself and your company to prepare for it and address it. Because shoving it to the back burner and trying to compartmentalize it probably won’t work.
While I’d never recommend bringing your problems to work everyday in all their messy existence, there are many personal problems that can bring you to your knees and in my consulting practice, I’ve seen them bankrupt a business.
Common Problems That Can Impact Your Business
Stress and Burnout: The stress of running a business can take a toll on an owner’s mental and physical health, leading to burnout and reduced productivity.
Financial Stress: Personal financial issues, such as personal debt or unexpected expenses, can spill over into the business and affect decision-making.
Time Management: Balancing the demands of running a business with personal life and family responsibilities can be a significant challenge.
Health Issues: Personal health problems, illness, or injuries can limit an owner’s ability to be actively involved in the business. Family health issues can also affect an owner.
Family and Relationship Issues: Conflict or stress in personal relationships, including family and marriage, can distract from business responsibilities. Lack of spousal support in a business endeavor can be a real challenge. This is especially true for startup founders.
Mental Health: Mental health issues, such as anxiety or depression, can impact a business owner’s decision-making and overall effectiveness. Adult ADD and ADHD can be a huge issue for some.
Substance Abuse: Alcohol or substance abuse problems can impair judgment and hinder the ability to manage a business effectively. This can affect a business owner or a member of his/her immediate or extended family.
Lack of Work-Life Balance: Difficulty in separating personal life from work life can lead to exhaustion and strained relationships.
Isolation: Business owners may experience feelings of isolation or loneliness, especially in cases where they have limited social interaction outside of work.
Legal Issues: Personal legal problems, such as divorce or lawsuits, can divert attention and resources away from the business.
Motivation and Passion: Personal struggles can affect an owner’s motivation and passion for the business, potentially leading to decreased engagement and commitment.
Lack of Self-Care: Neglecting self-care, including exercise, relaxation, and proper nutrition, can impact overall well-being and business performance.
Financial Dependency: Relying solely on the business for personal income can create financial vulnerability when the business faces challenges.
How to Handle Personal Problems at Work
According to Vistage, the global executive coaching organization, putting contingencies in place for unforeseen personal circumstances is something every CEO should have in place. They compare it to what you would do for an exit/succession plan or maternity leave.
A contingency plan may not be something executives would normally think to do, but one that may hold the difference between a healthy business and one that falters under duress.
Part of having a viable plan is having a competent number two executive in place. Micromanagers may find it difficult to find, train and develop a replacement for themselves, but it is probably the most important thing they can do.
Executives should also be fully transparent with their team or their boss. You might be surprised how people will step up to help you. And you should be willing to do the same if your colleagues are going through their own personal problems. They will remember that.
When I was going through my divorce and custody battle, I wasn’t the owner of the company I worked for, but I was the top financial person. Who did I have to help fill in for my responsibilities when needed (which was often in those early days)? What did my plan look like?
I heavily leaned on our outside accountant. I also had an honest sit down with the owner of the company to explain what was going on. He appreciated that. I had a fabulous co-worker who helped — sometimes just to listen to my litany of problems. We were implementing new accounting system software and the guy who was installing it and training us was an enormous help.
It’s amazing how supportive people can be when you are experiencing difficulties and are willing to be honest and ask for help. If you have a plan in place, it can save loads of time and even save your company.
Stories and snippets of wisdom from Cynthia Wylie and Dennis Kamoen. Your comments are appreciated.