Friday, April 23, 2010

Supervisor Training: Death in the Workplace and Grief on the Job

If you are a new supervisor, here's a small piece of advice: Learn now how to respond to a death of an employee on the job, at home, or suddenly without warning (automobile accident, etc.) Your employees will react with fright and confusion and they glance your direction as a leader to take cues on what they should do and how they should react.

This is the natural response to death of a coworker in the workplace. You will notice that some employees handle such an incident amazingly well, and others will struggle much more, particularly if they have other personal problems in their lives, and most especially if the death or event coincides with loss in their personal lives in some other respect, no matter how unrelated. The issue of loss and grief is at the heart of response.

Don't think that you can shove everyone back on to the tread mill as if they must be on a productivity routine that is more important that processing, talking out, and helping the family members of the deceased employees. In large measure, you will have to let things play out.

Your employees have experienced a dramatizing event and now must address the crisis of sudden loss and all the ramifications that go along with it. All employees want to return to their normal routines, family, and work-life as quickly as possible, but providing assistance to help them do this may be necessary, prudent, and wise. Denial of the emotional impacts of such an event can be compounded by an employer's unwillingness (often because of their own denial) to provide an opportunity to "process" or "talk out" the event.

Some employees may be reluctant to discuss the event and others are more willing. Much depends on an individual's past coping skills. Although you shouldn't force the issue, allowing time for employees to consider the event, their role in it, and feelings will speed their emotional recovery quicker. Set an example as a supervisor by being a role model for openness and willingness to talk about what happened. And pay attention to protracted responses that might indicate one of your employees could use additional counseling or assistance. To not respond invites stress claims, time off work, absenteeism, depression, and even increased likelihood of an accident due to problems concentration.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Empoyee Performance and Employee Documentation

Are you a supervisor who keeps struggling with employee documentation of employee performance? When an employee is slow, appears tired, and acts sad, do you call this “depressed”? It seems more to the point and descriptive doesn't it. It just feels right, right?

Well, unfortunately you are wrong. It's not right. It's trouble! Your documentation, at best, will be criticized, and at worst will jeopardize your employer if you make these kinds of notations. Not using labels is difficult, I know, but let's discuss it and then send you on your way.

You don't learn documentation overnight. There is a little bit of an art to it. Documentation can be tricky because you must convey what you see and hear but omit what you feel and conclude. This takes practice because it is tempting to focus on other factors that are subjective and emotional. The key is to avoid drawing conclusions about personal problems, stating how you feel about the employee’s behavior, conveying diagnostic impressions, or filling your documentation with drama. These things sabotage the usefulness of your documentation for administrative purposes. To improve your documentation, consider whether it describes what is measurable or observable. Depression (a medical term to avoid using in documentation) can’t be “seen” but slow talking, days missed, lack of work progress, crying, and sad looks are observable.