Friday, June 29, 2012

EAPs: Quick Tips for Supervisors On Giving Feedback

New supervisors often struggle with how to give feedback. When their misguided attempts flop, it can set the stage for ongoing conflict. That makes important for EAPs and EA professionals to have a quick and effective way to counsel supervisors, even seasoned supervisors, with the technique of giving feedback to an employees. Here's what to say, "to make it easier, try what is known as the "sandwiching technique."  The technique of providing constructive feedback or correction of an employee's performance allows the message your sending to be received more easily by "sandwiching" the unfavorable comments between favorable comments.  For example, say: "Nancy, I've been pleased with the way you've stepped up the speed of assembling the monthly reports.  You've made real improvement there.  I am concerned, however, about the quality.   There are frequently mistakes in the charts that need to be corrected.  I hope you'll work to improve the quality as well as speed.  I feel good about your attitude toward the schedule we are trying to keep, so I know you'll do fine."  Notice how the message you wanted to communicate was placed between two true but positive statements.  This technique reduces defensiveness and makes your feedback more acceptable, particularly with employees who are more sensitive toward constructive criticism. Related: Supervisory and Leadership Tips

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

No Mention of EAP's True Role Anymore--Why?

In the 1970's, "employee assistance programs" and their role in the supervisor referral process to help identify troubled workers and reduce enormous and varied costs associated with workplace drug abuse would have been front and center in an article on the subject. This recent article Kentucky's "The Lane Report",  "Abusing the Bottom Line: State's Drug and Alcohol Misuse Rates Highlight the Need for and Value of Good Workplace Policies" omits any notion of this critical application of EAP theory. The areticle appeared in the May 2012 issue. It was written by Lorie Hailey. Ms. Hailey is the publisher of the The Lane Report and has been there since March 2012, approximately. The fascinating question is, "What was her research path to develop the content for this feature?" Ms Hailey is a writer, not an EAP expert, so she had to rely upon experts who gave her leads and contacts so she could interview or gather information. Where to go or who to call upon for expertise and content is an important question. I can see from the content of this article that an EAP is pointed to as only a self-referral help source. How is it possible that EAPs don't enter this story with their history of performance based intervention success? What are the implications for the this article only educating readers about EAPs being a source of help, not a management tool to preserve the bottom line. It is important not to simply shake each others' hands at EAPA conferences and slap each other on the back, while we discuss how wonderful things are going for the EAP field. This article should tell you they are not. This benefit-only paradigm is a major issue undermining effective growth of employee assistance programs, salaries of professionals, reduction in risk, and it is costing lives. I can rattle off many effective EAPs that have closed their doors this year because financial controllers saw a way to cut them for a less effective EAP model. This article and its omission of the true EAP role in helping substance abusing employees is a commonly observed symptom of a problem facing the EAP field. It should be analyzed, debated, and its solution addressed. If you represent an effective provider of employee assistance programs in Kentucky, you may want delve deeper into this amazing observation and important story. You may learn much from Ms Hailey that could point to solutions the EAP field may wish to consider. Oh, don't blame Ms. Hailey. Blame us.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Educate Employees Before Trauma Takes A Toll

Trauma in the workplace. It's a very scary time for victims and helpers. You can actually feel of sense of panic and responsibility and fear all at the same time. Will you...can you...respond to help people, and also impress management with your capabilities. I've been there. Listen, no matter how prepared you are, that shock hits your system. My last EAP served the fire department unit closest to the Pentagon on 9/11 (100 feet away on the helicopter pad!) so, I know that feeling of "oh man...." First, second, third...go here. You go there.''

But, here's the point: Periodically I get urgent emails from people asking if I have a handout on trauma. These requests frequently come after a critical incident when the urgent need of the caller is to help employees or affected persons understand traumatic stress, motivate victims to take advantage of support services like CISD groups, or participate in effective self-care, like getting enough sleep, eating correctly, laying off the alcohol to get to sleep, and anticipating "normal" symptoms associated with traumatic stress after witnessing a critical incident.

It would better I think to educate new first responders immediately upon hiring about traumatic stress and participating in CISD help after a critical incident and a heck of a lot more about why. A lot of these first responders are mentored, not by buddies who are savvy on critical incident stress, but a work culture that heads out after a shift with a six-pack in tow to "process the bad call". This is a prescription for PTSD or at least lowered productivity from the affects of traumatic stress over time. What can be done about this problem? Consider education about traumatic stress as part of an orientation session. Train employees in other workplaces and industries too where trauma is possible--like industrial settings, etc. Help employees understand and be psychologically prepared for the aftermath of trauma so they understand it as a wound or injury to the psyche that should be managed. Take a look at this product on "Facing a Traumatic Event" from and see if could help you accomplish these goals.