Tuesday, November 30, 2010

What If My Supervisor Is the "Troubled Employee"

If your company is of any appreciable size, you may have an employee assistance program. Regardless of what the insurance company's brochure says, the primary purpose of an EAP is a management tool to help the organization deal with at-risk troubled employees whose personal problems may affect job performance.

They get help by way of self-referral for their own reasons, or the supervisor makes a referral to the EAP based upon job performance. Your EAP is not an employee benefit like a free gym membership. It is much more profound than to call it a benefit. It is a programmatic approach for dealing with behavioral risk with an established "core technology" of elements that make an EAP an EAP. So, all of that said, what do you do in the situation where your boss is the troubled employee?

As a supervisor, you can't make a supervisor referral. So, now what?!

This question, often raised by supervisors during training, is not as difficult to answer as it may at first appear.

Assuming your supervisor is a troubled employee, it is likely that his or her performance, conduct, or attitude on the job is affecting you personally.

This means that contacting the EAP to help you resolve your problem with the supervisor's behavior is appropriate. The stress of a dysfunctional supervisor may be problem-solved many ways, depending on the circumstances.

This could include modifying the way you handle the stress to actually seeking organizational support in order to deal with a real problem. You may be able to discover creative solutions with the EAP counselor. Regardless, just as it would be appropriate to seek EAP assistance for ongoing conflicts with a co-worker, it is appropriate to seek assistance from the EAP if you are negatively affected by the behavior of a supervisor. This is always the best alternative to trying to "refer" your supervisor. So the surprise answer is that there is no one answer that fits all situation. However, the shortest route to discovering the most workable answer is to consult with the EAP expertyourself.