Did you just say, "If you need anything, let me know" to your employee with a health crisis?"
If so, you may be a lazy manager.
I just came back from Camp Widow; yes you read that right. A camp (at the Marriot) for widows. I am a widow. My husband died at the age of 44.
After a seminar I gave called "How to Ask For, Accept and Get the Help You Need," a young widow and I were talking. She shared with me how helpful she found my reminder of how people can help with the little things, like picking up toilet paper.
Then she said, "A friend of mine was in the hospital, and I told him if you need anything, let me know when I could have offered to help in a half dozen specific ways. "
She said, "I realized I was lazy in my offer."
As a manager, you have a gazillion items on your plate (and hopefully, you're not dealing with the death of someone close to you). In a crisis, it's easy to burden the employee rather than take responsibility for taking action. It's one less thing on your list.
And that is being lazy.
You can't hide behind "I didn't know what to do" because if you sit and absorb the news for about five minutes, you will most likely come up with many ways to offer support.
Just like in your personal life, what you offer depends on your relationship with the person who needs support, what you feel you can manage, and if you know what your helping superpower is. (We all have one.)
Before you say, "Kim, I can't" keep in mind that:
The small stuff counts as supporting. For instance, picking up a package at an Amazon locker does make a difference.
They DO need your help. Your employee doesn't know what they need. If you come up with a way to help, they will be very appreciative.
Providing help DOES make a difference. Even just offering help can make the employee feel cared for and less alone.
This is about being relational, not transactional. If your relationship with your employee in a health crisis is more transactional, you'll have to switch gears. It will be worth every cog!
You don't have to deliver meals every day for five years! Offering to pick up dry cleaning or drop off a gallon of milk is good enough.
Lastly, if you want to step out of the lazy manager mode, here are the two things you can do.
Be specific on what you can do.
Offer more than once. Your employee in crisis is not dealing with a full deck, no matter how they show up at work. Crisis has that effect on everyone.
As a manager, you have a unique power to heal. You might find that a surprise. According to a Gallup poll of over 1 million employees, 70% of people quit jobs because of their boss! So, what you do when your employee has cancer matters.
It's not a great time to be lazy.