Allowing People To Be Ill

I manage a number of people in a variety of ways and configurations in the day job. While a lot of people can get hung up on managing rotas and directing efforts to make things happen – to firefight when staffing or circumstances require; and to try and forward plan when needed – there’s another side to the job that doesn’t perhaps get the attention or recognition. That is what we call the more pastoral side of management.

This is the side that sees me talking to people about what’s going on in their lives, and almost inevitably about their health. It also brings about what I see as the more grimly amusing element when I think about my own journey: that of making people take time to be sick.

I’m dreadful at permitting myself to take time to be ill – or let people take care of me. Perhaps that’s part of why I’m so militant about ensuring that if people are unwell that we give them the time and permission they are reluctant to give themselves to recover.

I would rather people have time to be ill and recover than make themselves worse or even make their recovery longer by forcing them to work. The slightly less altruistic side of this is that it also gets sick people away from the rest of the staff so they don’t get infected.

By giving people permission to be ill, even when staffing rotas are tight, it gives a reassurance that they are valued – perhaps something that in previous times and places I might wish I had received myself. This is not lost on me.