Dealing with team culture and an employees depression

What to do if your employee is worried about team culture and their depression

Recently I was asked a very interesting hypothetical question;

How would you react if a few days before joining a new team one of your employees came to you and says they have problems joining that new team due to their issues with depression and the team’s current culture?

It is a fantastic question and I wanted to share my answer because I think this situation plays out daily in offices across the world.

The first thing I would do is let them know that this conversation is happening in a safe place.

Since they have broached the subject you have to assume they feel at least slightly comfortable with you but it bares repeating to them.

Then I would thank them for bringing up this issue it is a hard thing to talk about and if you didn’t know you couldn’t do anything to help.

Next up, and maybe this is just the engineer in me, you need to get specific. Culture is just a culmination of people and “things”, we need to focus in on the one or several things that this person is worried about.

Then you need to speak to the new manager and highlight these concerns, the outcome of this chat should either be some form of proof that this person’s fears are unfounded OR a firm set of steps the manager is going to put in place to fix this over the coming months. If they can’t commit to either then you need to consider delaying the move.

Depending on your company structure there may be an HR department who should be informed, or someone who is better placed to help the employee to feel safe on the new team or help with the transition, if this is the case make sure you tell the employee who you are going to speak to.

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