“Separate your personal life from your work life” or “ Leave everything at the door when you come to work”; phrases often used in the business world. It may sound good to compartmentalize, but a dangerous practice even when possible to implement. Working with people there will always be an overlap between personal and professional life.
Completely separating your work life from your personal life requires shutting down one aspect of life in order for the other to proceed uninterrupted. Doing this creates stumbling blocks in both. When a team member is having problems in their personal life it will affect their work. If the expectation is to ignore the issues going on, it reduces focus even more. Suppressing personal issues on the job requires constant energy. The same is true at home. It is a good practice to positively debrief the work day with your spouse.
Engaged leaders know the benefit of taking interest in the personal lives of their team members. This does not have to be a time consuming task. Asking good questions and practicing deep listening is a skill-set effective leaders need to develop. Questions like “What one word best describes things at home?” “What is something you are looking forward to this weekend?” Questions asked with an expressed interest in the response are very effective.
As a leader, It is not your role to be the personal problem solver of issues not directly related to work production. But awareness that personal life and work life overlap communicates concern to teammates and creates a sense of trust and safety in the work environment. This result in increase employee focus, higher productivity, and greater fulfillment at work.
Matthew Green holds a BS in Corporate Communication. His passions include working with people to impact community transformation.