Cindy was recently promoted to department manager and today was the final push on a huge project for her team. Though her department only had 5 employees, she was looking forward to finalizing this project and showing the VP what she and her team could do. Shortly after getting into the office she received a text message from Amy notifying Cindy that she couldn’t make it into the office today due to a cold. Cindy’s heart sank, she was relying on Amy to help finish up this major project.
As a manager, have you come across this situation? What have you done when a critical employee calls in sick right when you need them the most? For many managers, a tangle of emotions and scenarios start playing in your head. Emotions from feeling betrayed and angry to scenarios where you start believing your employee is a slacker and faking sick.
Cindy finished the project but only by working late into the night. The next day Amy came into the office all bright and cheerful with no signs of being sick. Cindy still frustrated at Amy for missing an important day at the office ignored Amy all morning. After lunch Amy poked her head into Cindy’s office to check in, Cindy just glared at her and angrily stated, “How could you not be here yesterday when I needed you the most?”
Almost every day managers have to step up and take the high road. We have to make sure we are not making assumptions or taking things personally. As in the case of Cindy, she took Amy’s absence very personally and started thinking of Amy as a troubled employee. You can be sure that next time Amy calls in sick, Cindy is going to be even more upset.
If you are dealing with an employee calling in sick on an important day or has a history of calling in sick, take a step back and try to look at it from a rational point of view. Before addressing a potential absent employee problem, ensure you have the complete picture. Review how much unscheduled time off they have taken over the last few months; is it really out of the ordinary or is your perception warped by your feelings? With flu and cold season coming, you also have to consider cutting down on the spread of illness by not allowing sick employees in the office.
Even if you believe an employee is abusing the sick leave policy, seek advice prior to taking any action (including talking with the employee). When dealing with an employee taking a lot of sick leave, take care you do not to violate any legal rights the employee has, and ensure you are viewing the situation objectively.