Career coach Roy Cohen’s client, a former managing director at a major investment bank, had a drinking problem but was able to keep it sufficiently under control so it didn’t affect his work.
That changed after his wife filed for divorce, however. As the messy divorce unfolded his drinking problem began to impact his job performance. Not only was he drinking heavily, but he started to vent his anger and frustration at work. Eventually he got into a fight with a colleague at an office event and was fired. From there, he spun out of control and it has taken him years to get back on track.
Approximately one out of three Americans that marry will eventually get divorced at least once, according to a new study from research organization, the Barna Group. Often divorces spill over into the workplace and can wreak havoc on one’s career. For some this is a temporary setback, but for others it can derail their careers completely.
Vikki Ziegler, a divorce attorney and mediator in Livingston, and star of the new Bravo television series “Untying the Knot,” has seen firsthand how going through divorce can harm an otherwise promising career. Too often, individuals in the middle of a marriage breakup do not pay sufficient attention to their jobs. Ziegler suggests that, “as difficult as it may be, staying laser clear on your work agenda is crucial to your peace of mind and financial future.”
Zeigler advises keeping your divorce completely separate from your work. She suggests maintaining a diary at home, with a checklist of things to do involving your divorce. Handling what needs to be done with your divorce strictly from home will enable you to stay focused on your job while at work. Refraining from calling your attorney or family members from work will help keep you focused on your work while at the office, she adds.
Ziegler offers the following tips on how to avoid letting your divorce interfere with your career:
- Avoid talking about the divorce at work. Work is a place to conduct business. You get paid to work, not to chat about your personal issues. Constant conversation with co-workers about your divorce woes can detract from your efforts as well as the efficiency of your co-workers. Keep discussions about your divorce at work to a minimum. Your colleagues don’t know how to respond to someone going through the throes of a divorce battle and talking about it will only serve to make them feel uncomfortable.
- Take care of yourself. Many people going through a divorce stop caring about their personal appearance. They appear disheveled, stop bathing and don’t look professional at work. They don’t eat properly, stop exercising and are unable to sleep. This can result in a lack of energy and melancholy. If a person lacks clarity because they aren’t eating and sleeping it can affect their judgment and result in bad business decisions. Making time for yourself each week to go to the gym, spend time with friends, get a massage, mediate and read can all lead to a more positive attitude and a greater ability to cope with the stress.
- Don’t spend money frivolously. People going through a divorce sometimes stop caring about money and spend wildly. They ignore their budget and savings plans. Divorce can bring on a midlife crisis and sometimes one party decides to spend more so their spouse gets less. It is understandable to be upset and angry during a divorce, but don’t let that ruin you financially. Concentrate on what’s in your long-term financial best interest, Ziegler advises. “You will have a life after the divorce and will need to have your finances in order to have money to do the things you want to do when the divorce is over.“
- Avoid office romances. Office romances are generally not a good idea because they may give rise to complications that can negatively impact your career. When you are going through a divorce, moreover, you may not have the best judgment when it comes to romantic entanglements. It is prudent, while you are engaged in divorce proceedings, to keep your romantic activities away from the office. Nothing can derail a career faster than a sexual harassment charge.
Divorce is always a tragedy for the people involved. It is emotionally traumatic. It has an impact on your children. It damages your finances. However, it need not be tragic for your career if you keep the divorce where it belongs, outside the workplace.
A veteran human resources executive, Lee E. Miller is a career coach and the author of “UP: Influence Power and the U Perspective — The Art of Getting What You Want.” Mail questions to Lee@employability-expert.com