HR Forum

Managing chronically depressed staff

Question: I have been closely observing one of my managers’ behavior. His personal appearance, outlook towards life and work is getting from bad to worse

Once known as the best performer in the organisation, he has now become one of the worst. He used to set high standards in his work but now he is a ‘couldn’t-care-less’ person.

Judging from his remarks, comments and scruffy appearance, everyone knows he is going further downhill as he does not seem to want any help. He talks to no one except for the occasional short conversations he reluctantly has with me.

Each time I try to talk to him, he would either brush me aside or simply avoid saying anything. What can I do to really help him?

Answer: One thing I picked up from your description of this person is that he is really disappointed with something that is causing him to be terribly depressed with his life.

A more apt way to describe his current emotional state would be that he is probably feeling a sense of hopelessness.

His condition can get worse if he continues to deny himself of any help even though you are trying to do your best for him. A possibility of committing suicide cannot be ruled out too.

Although, it may be discouraging to continue with your efforts to help him, you need to be relentless yet be gentle in your approach until he submits himself to getting some help.

If you cannot win him over, let someone who is closer to him persuade him to seek professional help.

You need to be professionally trained in order for you to accurately assess the seriousness of his neurosis and then provide him with the right care and attention. In this case, he may even need medication.

So if you are unable to do so, do get him professional help from a coach, psychiatrist or hypnotherapist who is familiar with such cases.

However, what you and the rest can do in the meanwhile is to show him that you care and make him feel needed in order to raise his self-esteem; even if he appears to not want it.


• How important is this person in your life that you want to do something

• What do you want him to be?

• Who can support you in your effort to help him?

• What now will you want to do?

Article by Dr Michael Heah, an ICF Credentialed Coach with