Saturday, November 3, 2012

Addicts Can Hold Their "Breath" for Only So Long

Employees with addiction problems are well-practiced at explaining job performance shortcomings and will usually increase the quality of their performance after a period of absenteeism or some negative experience on the job. This includes you confronting them about their behavior, conduct, attendance, or quality of work issues. This is not manipulation. Instead, you're seeing short-term willpower in effect. It won't last. What's happening? Your employee has acquired a temporary sense of urgency strong enough to place brief controls on the frequency and amount of consumption of alcohol. Improved behavior is the result. Note: Never assume that a pattern of behavior represents a certain diagnosis like addiction. It is extremely difficult to diagnose a medical condition by looking at just behaviors and patterns. Employees with schizophrenia, schizo-affective disorders, delusional disorders, etc. can act in odd ways causing you to think they have drug or alcohol problems, or that they are under the influence of a psychoactive drug. Just focus on performance and good documentation. Then team with your HR department to decide on your next move.