Depression confronts us with the trap of renunciation and therefore of resignation . What is called resignation is nothing but confirmed despair.

Confirmed by whom?

A professional who gives up is a person who in her work context can give up and this supposes the involvement of those around her : whether it is the manager, the colleagues and when things get complicated the human resources department, the occupational doctor and staff representatives. Their attempts to resolve the complaint consist of listening to it, even encouraging it or giving no space to listen.

Faced with the renunciation of the professional, who suddenly is not effective as we think he could be, the behavioral tendency is then to do in his place or to have colleagues or others (a trainee or a temporary worker for example). The entourage will begin to compensate in an operational way for the inefficiency of the collaborator.

But after a while, unable to appease the problem posed by this professional, we end up giving up any improvement in the situation. We give up making him accountable for the operational objectives to be achieved, we no longer have professional expectations of him. But from an accounting point of view this person is considered an existing professional resource.

And when this becomes problematic, for example in a tense economic situation, we then consider a radical solution: a transfer, a dismissal which will obviously be very badly experienced by this person. At this stage, we often notice a crisis situation that is difficult to manage because many interlocutors are involved.

We identified two types of managerial authority favoring the depressive process: 

1) The first is that which is characterized by a sacrificial logic . The manager is afraid of losing his authority if he expresses dissatisfaction with his collaborator about his work. To guarantee a good relationship, he will do it for him and compensate for the shortcomings. Obviously each time he does in place of his collaborator, the implicit message that accompanies it is “you are incapable of doing” .

2) Another form of authority is frequent, that whose characteristic is hyper-protection. The manager perceives his collaborator as a fragile person. He seeks to protect him by relieving him of all his difficulties, to the point of intervening in his place and replacing him. The implicit message is the same as before, “you are incapable” . Obviously this actively benefits renunciation…

We can set up the trap in which the system finds itself , starting from:

Hope: to rise to the occasion. By adopting a strategy either sacrificial (I do instead to make myself appreciated) or hyperprotective (I do instead to spare him). But any acknowledgment of not being able to change the situation creates disillusion which will then stimulate attempts at a solution: to give too much room to complaints, to do things instead, etc.

Until the moment (and often this takes time…) when we will give up any operational relationship with a phenomenon of systemic contagion.

Our intervention methodology

We first make an operative diagnosis with the relevant system. We mobilize the actors. The intervention process takes into account the time it took for the situation to become problematic in order to set up a time space for intervention that follows Hippocrates' precept: bodies that have taken a long time to heal must be slowly repaired. perish and quickly those who have perished in a short time. For this we negotiate with the sponsor and the hierarchy the time necessary to obtain change, the challenge being to reduce the urgency of the change to make the efforts persevering.

In the case of an indirect intervention with the manager , when we notice a deteriorated authority, we help him to invest the professional relationship as a leader, with a stronger authority in order to break the logic of all or nothing. This consists of:

  • Consider the relationship from an operational point of view: what performance do you expect from your employee? ;
  • Faced with this expectation, take stock of what the person is still capable of doing;
  • Set a micro-objective for change (SMART) that will be monitored in order to empower your employee

The intervention with the “depressive” requires calibrating his communication on a contradictory mode because the “depressive” has a mode of resistance to oppositional change “yes I want to change... but I am unable to do so”. Which means saying no to change.

We always have good reasons for giving up, and the more we are unable to do, the more we are diminished to face the difficulties of life in general and work in particular. But as Hemingway tells us in The Old Man and the Sea:

A man can be destroyed but not defeated