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  • Lucy Warman

Chapter 7 - Overwhelm - Helping Hayley....


Following on from my chat with Mary, I ask Hayley to come to my office. I want to have the conversation away from her work space, so that she is in a safe and private environment. Hayley walks in looking like she has the weight of the world on her small shoulders. I ask her to sit down and tell me how she feels…. Open floodgates. Amongst tears, frustration, anger, disappointment, I see a lost soul. Hayley so desperately wants to do a good job at leading the housekeeping team until the new head housekeeper starts, but is so clearly massively out of her depth.


I tell Hayley that I will help and support her and give her the skills to lead the team and I see her instantly shed a little of the huge load she has been carrying since she took on the running of the department a couple of weeks ago. I then talk to her about Mary and ask why she has not approved Mary’s holiday. As expected Hayley tells me how the hotel is at full occupancy and Mary is the strongest in the team. She has a couple of others on holiday as the previous Head Housekeeper approved two holidays at the same time in error.


Unfortunately as a hotel we have let Hayley down. She was thrust into the role of heading up the team, albeit temporarily, but with little support.




I explain to Hayley that managing an employee who is going through a difficult time is one of the biggest challenges a leader will face. As much as we all try to keep our work and home life separate, sometimes events happen that mean the two will inevitably collide – a divorce, an ailing family member, the death of a friend. I explain to Hayley how desperately difficult a time Mary is having right now as her mother is poorly in Nigeria. We discuss the key things she can do to provide the best support:


  • Make yourself available - invest time understanding your people so you can detect any problems early on.

  • Maintain an atmosphere of compassion in the team, to encourage your people to proactively come to you if they are having problems

  • Don’t pry but ensure you build a caring relationship whilst avoiding becoming a personal confidante as this can make managing the situation more difficult

  • Listen first as they may just want a sounding board. If it becomes apparent they need help from you, ask how “We can support you” so that you are speaking on behalf of the organisation

  • Know what you are able to offer and be aware of the company’s allowances on compassionate leave, or unpaid leave to ensure consistency.

  • It may be support services are required and that the company has access to counselling, advisory or drug and alcohol services

  • Check in with them often to ensure they are doing OK and to check if you need to provide any additional support

  • Consider their workload. Can you reduce their workload or get someone else to help them out?

Hayley leaves a whole lot lighter than she arrived, knowing that I have committed to supporting her with leading the team. We’ve worked out between us how she can cover Mary for a fortnight so that Mary can head home to her mother. Hayley feels happy that the housekeeping service won’t be compromised and I feel much happier that as an organisation we have supported Mary at a time that she needs it most.


Next time – Road to recovery – Hayley’s journey begins


For bespoke support with leadership development, give me a call or drop me a line


lucy@surgeahead.co.uk

07713 069050


All Things People

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