“The closest thing to being cared for is to care for someone else.”
I recently read “Light on Snow” by Anita Shreve. This book was about a family dealing with death, grief, and the necessity of moving on. In this story, the father was grieving the loss of his wife and, while he was “caring” for his daughter in the practical sense, he had disengaged himself from her and all others.
This struck me as being similar to some of the “disengagement” we see in the workplace – our employees may be going through the motions of their duties and activities but they are emotionally detached from the work, the outcomes, their colleagues, their clients, etc.
In the book, the father “found his way back” to what remained of his family when he was forced to care for a total stranger. In caring for her, he was able to share his story and, likewise, he opened himself up to hearing hers.
The parallel I see here is mentoring.
May I suggest that if a member of your team is disengaged and/or emotionally detached from his/her work, that you help facilitate a mentoring relationship or otherwise put this person “in charge” of another?
I know this is a risky move…we all know the disasters that can occur when we put our “worst” employee in charge of onboarding, training, etc. However, in this case, I trust the “disengaged” employee you are currently thinking of is not “your worst” and, indeed, can do better…that his/her heart is in the right place.
Bumping him/her into mentoring may help him/her find pride in what work had been done previously and serve to stir up the energy to do more of it.
Or, at the very least, maybe your push into mentoring could spark his/her interest (and investment) in the success of someone else.
You’ve got nothing to lose by trying, except for the employee, of course.