While it is not a manager's job to diagnose clinical depression, it is his job to observe, analyze, and document behaviors related to job performance. It is essential that managers also provide support, by informing employees about professional resources such as employee assistance programs or non-profit counseling programs, available to assist them with transitions, losses, or problems in their personal lives that could affect their job performance.
When analyzing the root cause of performance problems, major clinical depression should be distinguished from normal temporary grief reactions due to losses in one's personal or professional life. Major clinical depressions can last for months or years and be debilitating. It may take some time for the employee to get the right kind of treatment and be stabilized on the correct medication. The manager may have to reduce the performance expectations, or hours on the job, until the employee is stabilized. For more specifics, see your human resources professional and review your company policy.
To assist you in analyzing the root cause of performance problems, review the following waming signs if you suspect one of your employees may be depressed.
Warning Signs of Depression
- Loss of interest in the work and of the people on the job
- Difficulty concentrating, remembering things, or making decisions
- Irritability or tearfulness
- Frequent comments about being tired all the time
- Frequent complaints about physical problems, aches, and pain
- A change in eating or sleeping habits - a recent weight gain or loss of more than ten pounds and sleeping too much or too little
- Decreased productivity and difficulty in meeting deadlines >
- Negative comments about herself, her abilities, accomplishments, speed in leaming new things
- Napping on the job
What to Do Next: Ten Tips
- Document the changes in job performance in terms of specific behaviors.
- Research your company's written policies about dealing with performance issues and handling disciplinary discussions.
- Use the counseling techniques recommended in this book to conduct a discussion focusing on job performance with the employee.
- Use active listening techniques to draw the employee out and determine if the behavior is a reaction to a loss or a chronic condition affecting job performance.
- Suggest to the employee that she may need help getting back on course, and refer her to an employee assistance program or a professional.
- Tell him it is his choice whether to seek help but you expect job performance to improve within a reasonable time frame.
- Let her know that what happens at the employee assistance program is confidential.
- Do not diagnose or even suggest that the employee may have an illness.
- If the employee decides to seek treatment, adjust work schedules and workload if possible for a defined period so the employee gets up to speed.
- Let the employee know that you consider him a valuable employee.