Friday, February 25, 2011

Reduce Supervisor Stress: Max Out on Using Your Organization's EAP

Many of you looking to improve your supervisory skills have employee assistance programs available to you for consultation through your company. The problem is that I am the first one to tell you this.

It is likely that you have therefore not had an orientation with a representative from the managed care company that runs you organization's employee assistance program, correct? This is par for the course these days, but it did not used be this way. Decades ago, supervisor training was a must, and it paid off. If you had one of these orientations, the professional counselor would give you instructions about how to refer an employee who was having job problems. So, let me give you a few helpful hints righ now. Although there are many different styles of confronting employees and recommending use of the employee assistance program, some methods work better than others. One technique that reportedly works very well is reserving a prearranged appointment time for your employee when you initially consult with the EAP about the pending referral. If your company's employee assistance program does not have a provision that includes consulting with supervisors, it is flat out, a bogus program not worth a dang. Continuing on, when you meet with your employee and conduct your corrective interview, offer the prearranged appointment to the employee if he or she is willing to visit the EAP. Do not, however, require or strong-arm your employee into accepting the appointment time. Accept your employee's desire to make his or her own appointment if the prearranged appointment is refused. Your offer of the prearranged appointment should only be a convenience to facilitate follow-through in visiting the EAP upon your recommendation. (The sooner the appointment follows your corrective interview, the better.) Definitely always ask your employee to sign a release so you can verify attendance. Don't say that signing one is required unless you have "held in abeyance" the employee's termination in lieu of his or her choice to completely cooperate with the EAP. Most employees will sign a release. Then you will be able to communicate with the EAP, but not about details. Only verification of attendance and cooperation with the program's recommendation.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Supervisors: Tense and Nervous in Corrective Interviews

When you meet with an employee to conduct a corrective interview, are you sometimes tense, nervous and forgetful, or feel a little overwhelmed by the process? Well you are not alone. Very few people in supervisory positions would say they look forward to such meetings, but nevertheless, these meetings go with the territory. Here is how to make the supervisor's role a little easier to swallow. First, plan your meeting with the employee ahead of time. Don't make the meetings off the cuff. Be sure to write a list of your concerns and use it as outline in your discussion. There is nothing wrong with this approach. Review these points however before your meeting. They way you will be staring at notes less. Get your supervisor's support and input prior to your meeting in writing this increases your feelings of security and gives more authority to quell a belligerent or non-receptive response from your employee. Meet with the employee in your office (on your turf). Discuss the listed concerns and allow the employee to respond. Do not argue with your employee. Try to remain emotionally detached by seeing the goal of your meeting as helping the employee understand the relationship between unacceptable behavior and its possible consequences. This the right attitude and keeps the feeling of "character attack" out of the interview. Good luck. Here is a super-awesome set of supervisor handouts, and if you happened to be a human resources manager, this "kit of materials" will help your supervisor improve their relationships with employees and boost their productivity. See the "Deluxe Supervisor Reproducible Fact Sheet Kit"
If the employee remains argumentative or will not listen, end your meeting with plans to meet again soon. For specific help on constructive confrontation or how to confront an employee, the 14 Vital Skills for Supervisors.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

"Leave the Poor Attitude at Home" Folks

As a supervisor, you have a job to do. So how much patience can you show toward employees who are struggle with personal issues, stress, or distress in their lives. Everybody has problems, but how should you respond so you don't fuel an Egyptian riot in your office?

First, lets get this straight. There is nothing wrong with expecting employees to have positive attitudes at work. Indeed, negative attitudes can be contagious, so your philosophy has merit. It’s possible that an employee with a negative attitude may be depressed, but you can't diagnose such a problem. You can, however, refer the employee to their doctor, an employee assistance professional, or ask them to contact a professional counselor if a negative attitude does not abate. Don’t dismiss it as a personality flaw or just the way your employees is. We are talking about risk management here. You want to act, not wait an see if the employee becomes violent someday. Consider whether the negative attitude of an employee points to needed changes or indicates a need to provide negative feedback to management. A negative attitude is different from whining, a behavior that grates on supervisors and generally has no problem-solving focus. Poor attitudes are valid performance concerns because they can be described in measurable terms based upon what is seen and heard. Their effect on others and their negative impact on morale can also be documented. Dealing with negative attitudes is part of a packet of workplace wellness tip sheets--all just for supervisors. Download these supervisor training skills handouts here.

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