Submitted by contemplation101 on
What do you do when a direct report commits suicide? It's been about three hours since I found out about R. Eight since initiating a health and wellness check.
Definitely still processing this, and uncertain what to do. Thus far, I've only spoke to both the VP of HR and the head of staff where R works in another state. The head of this office knew R for 30+ years. We meet early in the morning, then likely will let the team know later in the day. I don't know what else to say right now. Just asking what other Manager Tools members would do or if there is guidance out there because you had a similar experience.
Use the Framework of a resignation
My thought would be that you need to help the team keep moving. Some people will need a minute and others will want to get back to work. You'll have to manage that individually.
Check with HR to verify what resources are avilable for grief counseling. Reach out to the spouse or next of kin (it is probably too early for there to a plan regarding funeral/wake/celebration of life and you can disseminate details later).
Have a team meeting. Start reassigning responsibilities. Start working your succession plan.
I'm sorry for your loss
Not easy take it slow show compassion and resolve
A few years ago our Director was found dead of a stroke one morning.
I had already been designated as No.2 --
It was my day off - but I rushed into the office.
Got everybody together in one place -- Gave everyone the news that we knew that we could share.
Let everyone know that it was OK to grieve and take time off for the day if they need to.
Told them to stay-tuned for more information about Grief Counseling - and work reassignments.
And in the meantime - we will show kindness for each other, we will give each other the grace and the space to grieve.
We will be kind and show grace to each other.
That we will help each other stay productive while working through this difficult time.
You set the mood.
Serious, supportive, kind, compassionate, and productive.
I recommend that you do something similar - on the first day you are able to share the information..
Send out the Information about your company EAP and grief counseling.
Don't expect much from them on the 1st day. Let folks go home if you can.
Many of them will need at least a night's sleep to get this processed.
Then start – one-by-one bringing folks in to assess how they are handing things and re-assigning work on the 2nd day or 3rd day.
You may want to have a memorial in about month.
Be prepared for some folks to not handle it well. If you have staff or other folks in the company that are friends with your staff, make sure they check on each other for about week.
We had 2 or 3 minor meltdowns, and one very severe melt-down that happened at their home. Thank Goodness some of my staff were friends and visited them.
Expect strange things for about month.
TJPuccio, thank you for the excellent advice. In my case, with everyone being remote, I phoned each team member to share the news. I also kept senior managment informed and of course, adhered to instructions from them,
We're here to support again this week, contemplation101, don't hesistate to reach out if we can be of assistance. If anyone else experiences these hard times, there's a cast for managing through a personal crisis: https://www.manager-tools.com/2007/06/managing-through-a-personal-crisis....
Thank you to MT team and feedback from forum
Thank you Sarah and Mark. Your support has really helped tremendously. There are recommendations you provided that were key in order to affirmatively manage through this time. Especially, keep my schedule. No specifics on 'cause of death' were provided beyond our core leadership team. It's been challenging getting asked several times a day "What happened?". R was extremely respected on the team and everyone is grieving in their own way. I've been doing my best to ensure the work continues to get done. There certainly were exceptions on the day of the announcement whereby I just needed to listen, and then send some folks home, and then follow-up, and listen some more.
Thanks for the update
I'm glad we were able to help, this is a really tricky situation and one that I hope very few managers need to navigate. If other questions come up or you run into isses, don't hesitate to reach out, that's what we're here for!
How is R by now? Maybe talk
How is R by now? Maybe talk to him and ask him if why did he commit suicide. Who knows it might not be related to work. Nonetheless, having an staff with a suicidal behaviour is hard to manage since you need to watch all your actions towards him. In that case, he will be given a special attention which I find unfair for the others. But, ofcourse, we can't blame him for having that condition. What we can offer right now is moral support and a healthy environment to help him improve his suicidal behavior.
R. did in fact commit suicide. At the time of my post, it was the night before meeting with the senior team regarding communication and such. It was also a few hours after I found out from the VP of HR regarding this. I had made a request early in the day for a health and welfare check. The company has not informed the company of the specific cause of death, only that he passed away.
Book of Condolences
Sadly I had the similar situation of a suicide of someone within one of the teams and there is some very good advice in this thread. Two other pieces of advice to share.
One great piece of advice that our company's counsellors gave was to set up a Book of Condolences. Just a nice blank page book on their desk with a photo and candle where people could write their memories + for remote people they emailed them in to our admin who printed and concluded. It served a dual purpose - a nice focal point for the staff and then we included it with the wreath at the funeral and it gave tremendous satisfaction to the family to know the regard in which the person was held.
The other is to for you or someone to be ready to speak at the funeral. In my case it understandably wasn't well set up and only when underway were eulogies asked for. Thankfully I had prepared a small speech in case it was appropriate for someone from the company to speak and had notes at the ready.