Your personal issues can affect productivity at work

Friday November 29 2019

Crisis. Deal with personal challenges so that

Crisis. Deal with personal challenges so that they do not affect your productivity at work. File photo 

By Desire Mbabaali

Life is a journey of highs and lows and very often, we get ourselves entangled in the exciting, good, bad and ugly situations in our personal lives.
To some people, such exciting times in their lives can make it very hard for them to concentrate and productively do their job, and so can sad moments of loss, betrayal and stress.

In a paper titled Why Does Affect [emotions] Matter in Organizations Sigal Barsade, a Wharton Management professor at University of Pennsylvania, who studies the influence of emotions on the workplace, writes that: “Employees’ moods, emotions, and overall dispositions have an impact on job performance, decision making, creativity, turnover, teamwork, negotiations and leadership.”

And since we have limited control over what happens in our personal lives that may inevitably affect our productivity at work, how do we deal with such situations?

Racheal Nanyonjo, a banker was faced with a similar challenge as her wedding ceremony was approaching.
“As a person, I was excited about my impending marriage, and nervous about all the changes it was creating in my life. I also had to plan everything and run up and about checking this and that and getting the best service providers.
“That required that for about a month, I be physically and emotionally unavailable for my job,” she explains.

Talk to your boss/ employer
To deal with all this, Nanyonjo had a conversation with her boss about the situation before hand. “I talked with my supervisor about what I was up to and the bearing it would have on my productivity, and that it would sometimes make me physically unavailable. I shared the relevant information that they needed to know, how long it would take, assuring her that I am dealing with everything so that things at work go back to normal, and she was understanding,” she shares.

Additionally, Claire Muhangi, a human resource manager, advises that regardless of what you are experiencing in your personal life, don’t keep your employee/ boss in the dark. “Don’t try to come up with lame excuses every time you cannot make it to work, or when you fail to beat your deadlines and assignments. Don’t let your supervisor be the first one to summon you over your performance/ attitude or mood. Keep them informed about what is going on so that they see how they come in to support you,” she advises.


Talk to someone
Grace Namulindwa, a counselling psychologist, believes that talking about your personal challenges, distresses or distractions is a good start in dealing with the situation.

“Talk to someone outside your workplace about what is going on in your life and how it is affecting your productivity and ask them to advise you. This will make you feel better. If possible, seek professional help of a counsellor who can help you walk through those challenges,” she says adding that if you have to share with a colleague at work, this should be someone you can trust but don’t go talking to everyone in the corridors about your problems.

Plan your day
“When I lost my mother, it was hard for me to concentrate at work when I resumed working. My mood was swinging from somber to angry to critical. I found it very hard to go through the day at work, and for the first week, I literally couldn’t do any meaningful work, until I created a work schedule that would help me stick to my duties,” Moses Lugya, a computer engineer shares.

He explains that he had to discipline himself to stick to his work schedule to be able to accomplish duties and he shares that if your job allows, have a work schedule and try to adhere to it.

Deal with the problem
Over and above all, deal with the source of the problem.
“As you take one day at a time trying to get through with your workdays, dealing with the source of these emotions is paramount.

I acknowledge that there are issues one just needs time to cope with; like loss, however, in cases where you have to deal with the problem, work towards that, because it will offer you a permanent solution. These can be dealing with addictions, heart breaks, change of social status, among others,” Gertrude Ahimbisibwe, a counsellor notes.

Take a break if possible

Claire Muhangi, a human resource manager, says depending on what the situation is, one may decide to take a break from work, again, depending on whether that is possible - depending on the nature of one’s work.

“It is pointless for an employee to show up to work, but when they are not being productive at all, so where possible, ask your superiors for a break from work so that you either recollect one’s self, or to deal with the stress factors. If it is possible to push for your annual leave (If entitled to it) a few weeks off the job will profit you much,” says Muhangi.