Igniting a spark: Helping Teammates Overcome Sunday Night Blues

Monster.com recently published statistics around the ‘Sunday Blues’ workers feel as Monday morning’s return to work looms over their weekend. Timothy McGuirk finishes a three-part blog series about ways to overcome the challenges associated with this stress. Part one offered tips to relieve anxiety before the work week and part two identified potential conflicts at work.

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To conclude our series on the recent Monster.com statistics, I surveyed managers here at Marchon Partners asking what action they would take if a member of their team suffered from “Sunday Night Blues.” Their strong experience across industries proved invaluable in crafting this blog. They all insisted that strong managers understand difficult situations and respond with fair, clear remedies.

Suspecting that someone struggles at work should prompt every manager and colleague to address the situation directly and respectfully. Speaking with someone about their life demands a certain grace that guards the privacy of the person while inviting them to share their experience and work towards a solution. Ask the person if you might speak with them privately and pose open-ended questions that encourages candid answers. Remember, you want to understand the situation by listening. Listening allows you to gather the facts and more fully grasp your teammate’s circumstances. You may not know that they learned recently of a loved one’s terminal illness. You may not know that they fell upon financial difficulties. Knowing the facts allows you to take the best action.

We can categorize problems as personal or professional, most generally. In many organizations, personal issues, especially family related, make sense to include a HR professional in the conversation because they can refer the person to resources that the company offers. Your HR colleague can direct the conversation as paid time off or other questions come up. A professional issue might include feeling over or underwhelmed in the office. As the direct manager, you can help your teammates manage their work better and avoid anxiety.

First, consider reaching out to the person on Sunday evening, when they develop anxiety about the upcoming week. Two managers agreed that this email should inspire confidence, encourage the employee in their work and reiterate that you stand by them throughout the week.

Second, motivate employees to achieve sustained success. Employees at all levels get caught in difficult ruts. Sometimes, they cannot pull themselves out unless there are achievable, short term goals available.  Offering clear incentives including monetary awards, trips, personal benefits (i.e. days off) and group incentive awards.  Group motivation works because teammates want to succeed for one another. Promote the “team” element in your company.

Third, encourage employees to work hard during the day and, when they begin to lack energy, take a walk outside the office space. Changing the physical environment helps employees to think more broadly and helps them refocus when they return to work.

Last, along the same line of respect mentioned above, honor your teammate’s personal time, especially weekends. We all check our phones 24/7 for texts, tweets and emails. As a courtesy to others, if the matter can wait until Monday morning, do not bombard people with non-urgent messages. These cause some great stress in their free time preventing them from returning to work renewed and prepared to address the issue. If it can wait, and remember not everything can, leave people to their own business during personal time.

Serving as a manager isn’t easy, but if you have good, hard-working people in the company, they will work through issues with a little help.

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