We typically use this space to talk about technology, trends and products related to our field and the industries of our customers who are mostly building and facilities managers across the country. Today, we’re getting a bit personal in hopes that if your team ever finds itself in a similar situation, our experience can help.
Last week, one of our fellow teammates, Jeff, passed away suddenly. Our shock and grief was immense. As the CEO, I needed to find a balance between grief (both my own and my team’s) and the need to keep business running as our customers would expect. This was no easy task, but here are the steps we took and the advice I’d give another company in this situation:
First, acknowledge the loss.
- Several of our Team attended the funeral home visitation and met Jeff’s family and his friends. We made a point during this visit to meet his only son and share our condolences.
- A few members of our Team attended the funeral. This allowed them to realize closure and provide support to the family.
- We sent a meaningful gift to the family in memory of Jeff. We send wind chimes, because it can be a beautiful reminder of the person to the family and lasts a lifetime.
Do not make a “shrine” of his office space.
- While it is tempting to keep his office space unused for a period of time, it is important to fill the office space with another new Team Member.
- If this does not occur in a timely manner, it can lengthen the grieving process and create a shrine effect where no one should be able to use the space and once it is filled again, there are hurt feelings over using the shrined space for another person.
Talk with Your Team about the Team Member
- Ask questions about how they feel.
- Reminisce stories and good memories of working together.
- By doing this, we make it okay for them to talk about it.
- Death is real and part of life and we need to have a healthy respect for the person gone. Talking about it helps – and knowing we are truly going through this together brings comfort.
Provide Access to Grief Counseling
- Our Team Members worked side by side with Jeff and got to know him on a different level.
- The Team may struggle making it through all the steps of grieving and providing an anonymous outside support method may be helpful.
- Also, Jeff was mis-diagnosed, as possibly having COVID, in the beginning stages of his issues, and many believe he would be alive if they would have performed more tests. This has created a lot of anger.
Continue to Focus on What We Do
- We are actively hiring additional Team Members.
- We are actively winning additional work and taking care of customers. This helps in focusing on what we do and do well.
Recognize you and your team are grieving. Give time and space for that to happen, but also recognize there is work to be done and customers expect services to still be in place.
I hope these thoughts help your team, should you ever find yourself in this type of situation. I’ll be honest, I think I found it helpful to write all of this down in the hopes someone else could use it.