Home » Blogs » CEO's Diary » Stress

Stress

December 1 - I have noted the many comments on my management of my IT manager with stress on here.

I have to say I do understand stress. I have witnessed it at close hand in my family.

I have a very strong impression I'm only just hanging everything together right now. Indeed, sleeplessness is a real issue for me at the moment that my wife wants me to see our GP about.

So please don't get me wrong: it's not I don't respect the issue. It's precisely because I do that I took the action I did.

Stress arises, I think, for a reason. I don't think it's my job to know the reason in this case unless the manager wants to tell me. But what he did make clear to me was that he had simply been signed off. There was no action plan. And from what I have seen that is of little use. Stress needs to be proactively managed, like much else in life, or in a month's time my manager will be more stressed about coming back to work than he was when he went off/ How does my leaving him to face that situation help?

So the offer I've made to him - and which i requested he partake in - was to see a specialist, and not a GP who signed a sick note, with the promise of follow up help if needed.

Now I'm not sure how I can be criticised for saying that I expect him to play his part in tackling a real issue if it has arisen, and for saying if he refuses to do so it is not my responsibility. I think that's completely responsible management and way beyond that which most companies would offer.

I'm pretty much disappointed at the reaction. It implies to me a lack of understanding of stress - which only really goes away when the underlying issues are resolved.

But it sure as heck increased my stress.

In fact, I'd say it's not been a fun week.

But I don;t for a minute regret reaching out to seek to help this guy in a way that will, I am sure, help. 

 

 

 

Comments
John Paris's picture

Are you medically qualified ?    2 thanks

John Paris | | Permalink

I have read the previous blogs and I'm concerned by your attitude.

I'm sure your doctor doesn't tell you how to run your business, so don't you think it presumptious of you to second guess the doctors treatment of his patient? 

Suppose your "proactive management" actually makes things worse?  Suppose your insistance on him seeing a specialist causes more stress?  I can see the distinct possibility of you laying yourself wide open to a large claim for damages, or even worse.

The doctor, at this stage, obviously believes that a break from work is what is required. If, in his professional opinion, he considered something more was required no doubt he would have prescribed it. By interfering you are on very thin ice, and I can hear it starting to crack.

 

 

 

stress

andrew_hughes11 | | Permalink

I think the criticism you received on your initial posting was harsh to say the least. Suggesting an action plan to deal with the situation is rare nowadays. As you stated, signing an individual off for a few weeks isn’t actually tackling the problem, and yes coming back to the work environment can exacerbate the situation. It may have been a tough week but give yourself a pat on the back, you’ve done a rare thing here, take comfort in that. 

 

Take you wife's advice and go and see you GP.

stress

keithmillar | | Permalink

Well said CEO!

You are supporting this person by doing what you have done so well done. He needs help with this condition and a GP is NOT the person to do it. GP's don't have enough time to spend with a patient to understand stress. That is what a specialist is for.

There was certainly a lot of nonsense being blogged.

Stress

paulwakefield1 | | Permalink

I'm completely with the CEO on this.If JP is right that he is laying himself open to a claim by ensuring that a member of staff gets specialist help that would be incredibly depressing.

BKD's picture

I agree with CEO

BKD | | Permalink

And the more recent responses.

We get a lot of so-called 'legal opnion' on this site, some of which is, to say the least, suspect. I'm not sure that this is an area that even David Winch - one whose opinion I would trust - would be able to comment on with authority (but you're more than weclome to chip in, David :)

I'd say that CEO has done exactly the right thing in advising to see a specialst (but then again I'm no expert in the matter, either :)

 

Flash Gordon's picture

All about you?    1 thanks

Flash Gordon | | Permalink

So you have 'a strong impression I'm only just hanging everything together right now'? Gee I could have sworn the stress issue was about your IT guy, not about you. You don't know if he'd already started coming up with a plan that he didn't feel he could tell you about (because maybe it involved thinking about changing to a job where his boss wasn't 'me, me, me') and if you had half a clue about stress you'd realise that sometimes the person needs to get some space to be able to come up with a plan. You don't just walk into a doctor, get signed off and come out with a 20 point action plan. He might have been advised to get some counselling & that takes more time to arrange than the 2 minute walk from the doctor's office to the car park.

If the specialist you want him to see is a counsellor / psychotherapist then that in itself is a poor move - who wants to talk to someone that they think is likely to report back to work? But my £ says you just want him to see someone general (the equivalent of a second opinion but on your payroll effectively) who can tell you that nothing is wrong with him and you can therefore not bother paying him.

I think that probably a lot of us that have slated you have actually had personal experience of stress and depression, something that you obviously haven't. (Knowing someone isn't the same thing, you're not in their head experiencing it).

Still, for your sleeplessness I recommend an action plan of go to chemist, get sleeping pills, take them, sleep. Oh yes, and to follow in your example of caring 'Get over it'.

ShirleyM's picture

Clash of personalities?    1 thanks

ShirleyM | | Permalink

"No, the real issue is personalities." ""

The above comment was extracted from your 'Egos' blog, and I think you could be right. In that blog, you were pretty scathing of this guy, and you said yourself that was how it 'appeared' to you, as if you hadn't discussed the problem with him.This makes me think (not unreasonably I believe) that you had already formed an opinion without giving this guy the courtesy of discussing the problem with him first.

As for your 'caring' attitude in sending him to a 'specialist'. Have you done this for any other employee who has presented a sick note, or is he the 'lucky one'?

stress vs depression

Alan Davies | | Permalink

There is a difference, we don't know all the situation here so give the CEO some slack rather than trying to correct your own personal issues by having a go at him.

To all those who suggest that unless you have depression you have no place to comment (from the other thread and from comments yet to come!) may I ask if you think the medical specialists you finally get referred to have had depression, most likely not is the answer. It similar to saying I'm an amputee therefore I'm qualified to cut other people's limbs off, all very play ground.

ShirleyM's picture

An offer ... or a demand?    1 thanks

ShirleyM | | Permalink

So the offer I've made to him - and which i requested he partake in - was to see a specialist, and not a GP who signed a sick note, with the promise of follow up help if needed. 

I am sure you said in an earlier blog, that although you normally paid full sick pay to other people, you had given this guy a choice of going to the specialist of your choice and getting full sick pay, or just receiving SSP. Did you give him the option to choose his own specialist?

I don't think your actions are as altruistic as you would have us believe.

Right or wrong?    1 thanks

jonathanw | | Permalink

The CEO has more knowledge of the situation than any of us reading his posts.

While people are free to advise, and offer viewpoints from their own experience, the level of slating from some people is way out of proportion to their knowledge of the situation, and I assume that they are just projecting their own stressful situations.

I would hope that where anyone is signed off sick with a potentially long-term recurring problem (such as stress, obviously) would be offered an action plan; indeed, everyone returning from sick leave should have a return to work interview.

CEO, you've made errors in judgment before, and admitted it. In this case, while you may not have handled it perfectly, from the information that you have blogged, I think (for what it's worth) that you've acted fairly to both the individual concerned and to the company.

Well said and done CEO

kfosborne | | Permalink

First of all, I'd like to say how generous I think the CEO is with the insights into his life and his business. 

Secondly, his honesty and straightforwardness has been apparent from the start, and is in marked contrast to some of the sarcastic and unpleasant responses to his recent posts.

Thirdly, he has consistently been very supportive of his team, and has shown deep levels of personal concern for the personal and professional lives of those who work for him, while also managing to ensure he does what's best for his business and his shareholders.

Obviously I've not met the CEO, but from his blogs I'm certain he's an excellent employer who I would be delighted to have as my boss, whether I was stressed or not. His handling of his stressed IT guy seems exemplary to me. He's been generous with his time and with the company's resources in support of him and I'm sure he will continue to be so.

Well said, and well done CEO.

John Paris's picture

Stick to what you know or risk the consequences

John Paris | | Permalink

[quote=BKD]

I'd say that CEO has done exactly the right thing in advising to see a specialst (but then again I'm no expert in the matter, either :)

[/quote

 

My point is that there is a doctor's certificate in place and the "IT guy" is therefore under the expert care of a medical practitioner. He has signed to state that his patient is too ill to work. A medical certificate is of course a legal document. Once someone is under the care of a medical practitioner then no one has the right, either moral or legal, to interfere with that care or deliberately undermine it.

Requesting a "second opinion" would be acceptable, providing the employer’s right to request a second opinion is included in the contract of employment, but demanding that the employee pursue a particular course of treatment is simply wrong on many levels. Suppose your employer is a believer in some quack remedy and "demands" that you immediately start carrying crystals in your pocket and stop walking on the cracks in the pavement - would you?

That is why I suspect that if the employee becomes more stressed by being badgered by his employer, and feels he is being pushed out of the company, then an action for constructive dismissal would have every chance of success.

I do think it is rather ironic that someone who no doubt defends his professional standing and would immediately object to an untrained unqualified bookkeeper describing himself as an accountant, is quite happy to then do exactly the same himself by overriding the professional opinion of a medical practitioner whilst having no medical qualifications himself.

 

 

Nitpicking: Bookkeeper as accountant

jonathanw | | Permalink

Personally, I don't object to an untrained unqualified bookkeeper describing himself as an accountant. It's only if he describes himself as a chartered or certified accountant that there would be an issue.

In any case, the CEO is not putting himself out as a medical expert (with or without qualifications).

If the CEO followed John Paris's advice, and accepted the sick note (and all future sick notes for stress, that one would assume would follow in the months to come) without wanting to put an action plan in place, wouldn't that be a lack of concern on his part, and wouldn't this also leave himself wide open to a large claim for damages?

As for the wild supposition that an employer demands a quack remedy to be followed, I don't believe any legal inquest would find this to be a reasonable course of action. However, as long as the course of treatment is in the care of a medically trained expert in this area, this may well be a reasonable course of action for an employer to request, when the alternative is a course of long-term sick notes from a GP who isn't necessarily an expert in this area.

Of course, as none of us on this forum apart from the CEO know the "full" facts, then it is difficult to make a definitive judgment, as I'm sure you would agree.

BKD's picture

Stick to what you know or risk the consequences

BKD | | Permalink

Exactly my point.

My concern is that others here have in the past expressed opinion on legal matters, with no evidence whatsoever of their legal qualifications or expertise. Some of that opinion has been shown in the past to be quite dubious (some of those members have been banned as a consequence of the abuse and legal threats directed at fellow members of the site), so I believe that anyone expressing views on AWeb on the legal implications of certain courses of action should do so only if they are qualified to do so and can provide demonstrable evidence of their qualiifcations etc.

Otherwise, how can we be certain of the legitimacy of any advice that is of a legal nature?

John Paris's picture

@ BKD

John Paris | | Permalink

BKD wrote:

Exactly my point.

My concern is that others here have in the past expressed opinion on legal matters, with no evidence whatsoever of their legal qualifications or expertise. Some of that opinion has been shown in the past to be quite dubious (some of those members have been banned as a consequence of the abuse and legal threats directed at fellow members of the site), so I believe that anyone expressing views on AWeb on the legal implications of certain courses of action should do so only if they are qualified to do so and can provide demonstrable evidence of their qualiifcations etc.

Otherwise, how can we be certain of the legitimacy of any advice that is of a legal nature?

 

 

I don't see anything purporting to be a "legal opinion", merely a suggestion that there may be legal implications and that possibility should be considered.

I do consider attacking members who are unable to reply because they are banned to be rather cowardly.

As regards ensuring the qualifications of someone offering legal advice, how exactly do we ensure your qualifications for giving the tax advice you give, bearing in mind the potential legal implications of taking incorrect advice?

ShirleyM's picture

I believe this was covered by David Winch a while ago    2 thanks

ShirleyM | | Permalink

Where incorrect accounting or tax advice is given, there are plenty of other members who will recognise that it is incorrect, or badly explained, and advise differently.

The problem with legal advice is that few of us are knowledgeable in this area, and therefore incorrect legal advice is unlikely to be recognised as such, which is why a lot of us rely on David, as he is willing to put his name & reputation on the line when advising us.

k743snx's picture

fit notes

k743snx | | Permalink

Many don't realise that "sick" notes no longer exist and were replaced by "fit" notes" over 18 months ago.

So, following a consultation a doctor could pass an employee as "fit" for parts of his job if in his professional opinion, the employee is capable of carrying out some of the job functions.

There's no implication in this case that the IT man is not so affected that he can't do any part of his job, but I think it's a point worth making in the light of the changed legislation.

GP's are General Practitioners and Not Experts at everything    1 thanks

jtomlin2 | | Permalink

I think the CEO has done the right thing by prompting this individual to seek professional help in facing their problems.  Contrary to some peoples belief's GP's do not know everything and sometimes will prescribe what they think is sufficient treatment without prompting referral to a specialist.  I have had a close member of my family suffer from a similar mental condition (depression) and was prescribed anti-depressants without even discussing alternatives or seeking any talking therapies.  In hindsight they realised that the pills became a crutch which deadened all emotions (highs as well as lows) and never really addressed the issue.  These tablets took a while to get off due to withdrawal symptoms and then a year later a minor relapse occurred but due to the individuals determination not to go back to tablets other alternatives were personally pursued and issues were actually resolved.  Left to the GP they would have been another pill-popper living a less enriched existence.  

Sometimes when you are at a low point it needs someone else to nudge you into action - hopefully the IT manager will look back at this episode and thank the CEO for their more proactive support. 

John Paris's picture

Inconsistent attitudes

John Paris | | Permalink

ShirleyM wrote:

Where incorrect accounting or tax advice is given, there are plenty of other members who will recognise that it is incorrect, or badly explained, and advise differently.

The problem with legal advice is that few of us are knowledgeable in this area, and therefore incorrect legal advice is unlikely to be recognised as such, which is why a lot of us rely on David, as he is willing to put his name & reputation on the line when advising us.

 

 

I have seen examples of poor tax advice which no one has corrected.  Are you suggesting advice should be ignore unless at least 6 other members agree with it?

 

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I thought David Winch's qualifications were in accountancy, not law.

Now this raises an interesting point about some of the comments above.

It seems that a GP can be qualified in medicine, and possibly take a special interest in stress related illness, but his opinion is not to be accepted without a second opinion, but, someone whose qualifications are in accountancy and who takes a special interest in law, can be accepted ?  There does appear to be a definite inconsistency in attitudes doesn't there?

Also, of course, "getting it wrong" on an issue of law might cost someone money, but "getting it wrong" when interfering in someones health might cost them their lives.

ShirleyM's picture

@John - please clarify    1 thanks

ShirleyM | | Permalink

John Paris wrote:

I have seen examples of poor tax advice which no one has corrected. 

 

You must be more observant than I am as I haven't noticed any. Have you corrected them? If not, please help AWeb by pointing them out so that I, or another person, can correct them.

John Paris wrote:
 

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I thought David Winch's qualifications were in accountancy, not law.

I believe you are correct but I am not sure what point you are trying to make as the majority of people here are accountants, and not legal advisers, which was the basis of my comment. David Winch is willing to give legal advice under his real identity, and to me personally, that means he puts his name and reputation on the line, unlike an anonymous person who could give us a load of tripe but still not suffer any damage to his/her reputation..

Don't feed the trolls!    3 thanks

stephen_hoare | | Permalink

The internet is a place where some people seem to feel it is acceptable (perhaps even their duty) to argue rather than discuss, often abandoning all norms of acceptable behaviour and politeness. While the standard of discussion on AW is generally very high (which is why I read it), that is not always the case. I think some of the comments here and in response to the original blog article slip below that high standard.

 

Stress is an emotive issue, for individuals as well as organisations, and I think I detect the sound of one or two axes being ground.

 

I'm sorry that some of the intemperate responses here have added to the CEO's own stress levels. I enjoy reading his blog (it's about the only blog I read regularly) and get a lot of ideas and inspiration from it, so I would be very sad if the trolls drove him away.

s    1 thanks

annette.ser-gro... | | Permalink

His doctor is an expert on medical things, the CEO is an expert on his business.

Neither of them definitively know where this stress arises- even if  the IT guy  feel its work related  it actually could stem from another source outside of work- the stress he feels in work  could just be a symptom! - either way both he and the CEO need to know its root cause  in order  to move forward.

Offering a structure to develop coping mechanisms , I feel, is a really generous gesture on the CEO's part. 

Being proactive also sends a message out to the workforce that time off for stress wont be taken as a given - it will be  managed rather than accepted.

Oh dear

Helen Crowley | | Permalink

Agree completely with Stephen Hoare and other positive posters. I was somewhat surprised at some of the quite personal criticisms against the CEO, that have continued in this entry, having followed him from the original FD Diary days. I also hope it doesn't put him off sharing complex, sensitive matters in the future. Some perspective is required - he is the writer of a Blog for our entertainment and doesn't deserve to be distressed by us in return.

Add comment
Log in or register to post comments