Saturday, November 14, 2009

Confronting Your Employee--and He's In a Blackout!

Dealing with an employee you have previously reprimanded is difficult. Dealing with blackouts: when your employee doesn't remember being sent home drunk is even more complicated.

Disciplinary action is an unfortunate necessary responsibility of a supervisor. Well documented disciplinary action will focus on work performance and is the best way to make an uncomfortable situation bearable for both you and the employee.

Any employee who doesn’t remember being sent home drunk is likely going to try a variety of tactics to prove their innocence. They may make excuses; even provide possible scenarios that seem plausible to anyone who was not present at the time when they were sent home. Or they may try and relate the incident to another time they do remember, confusing the facts and diverting the situation. Diverting the issue is typical for someone who has blackouts and cannot remember specifics. You should be aware of and prepared for these behavior patterns. Make sure when you send an employee home drunk you have documented the event with a reliable witness and the employee’s signature. Even if the signature is difficult to read due to a loss of motor skills, there is no excuse to invalidate documentation. This will help prevent the feeling of being stranded in a Jerry Springer show entitled Blackouts: When Your Employee Doesn't Remember Being Sent Home Drunk.

In the case of blackouts: when your employee doesn't remember being sent home drunk you may find they will claim they didn’t know, or that “everyone is against them,” they may blame others or try gaining your pity for their personal situation. If they do no remember being sent home drunk they may try playing on your sympathy. Your best defense against this is a calm approach, keeping to the issues of work performance and conduct. A level head on your part will do more to diffuse the issue than anything. Even if the employee begins to get angry or breaks down into tears, you need to keep your focus on the matter of work. Do not try and moralize their situation or diagnose their problem. If the employee was sent home drunk, than the action taken was deemed appropriate at the time and your only course is to stand behind that decision.

The key to dealing with blackouts: when your employee doesn't remember being sent home drunk is to keep level headed and stick to the documentation.

A Web course for training supervisors in DOT Alcohol and Drug Training can be previewed free and without obligation by completing the form at DOT TRAINING OF SUPERVISORS. The web course is offered by and published by Daniel Feerst, LISW-CP. Dan Feerst, MSW, LISW. He began his employee assistance career in 1978 as a Social Science Officer for the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, Occupational Alcoholism Program in Langley, VA. Since then, he has served as a staff member or director for some of America's most well-known Employee Assistance and Counseling Programs, including the Kennecott Copper INSIGHT Employee Assistance Program, the U.S. Department of Agriculture 22 Agency EAP Consortium, and Arlington County Government and Public Schools EAP in Arlington, VA. He has consulted with hundreds of small businesses on helping employees, intervening with substance addicted workers, and how to develop effective alcohol and drug-policies.

Obtain and view a DOT Alcohol and Drug Education web course with the features discussed above at The company permits a full full review of the course on a CD that plays on your computer just like it would on you your web site.