Thursday, October 22, 2009

Part V of V - What If the Addict Says, "No!"

(Note, this post has four previous parts.) I will make all parts available in a downloadable document (grammatically proofed) at a later date.)

If the addict says no, intervention participants should be ready to act on the leverage they have previously decided to use. However, it is extremely effective to give a deadline for the addict to accept the offer of help if he or she says "no."

The recommendation is no more than one day. This gives the addict time to think about treatment and feel in control of the decision to accept it.

Many people argue only for an immediate transport to the treatment facility. I disagree from personal experience. Addicts babies. Don't treat them as such. You must guess that the addict is motivated and willing to follow through.

As a director of a 25-bed adolescent drug and alcohol treatment unit in 1982, I once convinced a teenager to enter treatment after attending an Ozzie Osbourne concert. This kid never would have entered treatment. I guessed I could make the deal. He shook on it and entered treatment two days later.

The desperate act of “forcing” the addict to decide upon admission within minutes of the intervention is linked to the intervention consultant’s role and the implication that the intervention can’t be repeated later when the interventionist does not come back.

Using an intervention consultants is almost entirely viewed as a “one shot” opportunity. It is a disservice to families and the patient to view interventions in this manner.

Virtually all interventions will succeed. That's a bold statement isn’t it? But if you understand the nature of addictive disease and its progression, you know that this statement is essentially true.

Helping intervention clients understand this reality is essential because it provides motivation to practice new behaviors that stop enabling and facilitate crises that can lead to admissions. The goal is for co-addicts (persons in relationships with addicts) to act in tireless and aggressive ways against disease until the addict accepts help at a future point, if not right now. That day will come with a new attitude and a watchful approach to stopping enabling. Alanon is extremely useful for this purpose, but the Alanon sponsor must not be a individual who sends the message of "do nothing", simply live detached. Alanon's message is powerful, but some individuals interpret Alanon principles as avoiding intervention--forever. So, be careful of this message.

There are essentially three reasons all interventions will eventually succeed, particularly if they are "family-managed” rather than intervention consultant-driven. (Family-managed means that the intervention becomes a process, not a one time shot event that is declared a failure on the first try if does not work.) Again, no intervention consultant is used with the family empowerment model.

Reason #1: The reality of the progression of incidental, serial crises until death or sobriety. As the disease worsens, crises continue unabated with only an unpredictable amount of time that separates them. Each one becomes an opportunity to initiate an intervention.

Reason #2: Denial and alibis of the addict diminish and this leads to a rapid progression of the illness’s symptoms. Addicts practice defensive mechanisms to avoid confrontation and consequences for their behavior. If an intervention at first does not succeed, drinking or drug use will increase, although there may be a short-term attempt to reduce consumption in a vein attempt to demonstrate control over the illness by practicing abstinence or moderation. As drinking continues or resumes, problems increase and interventionists (family and friends) need only await for the opportunity to try again. The mission: Make acceptance of treatment non-negotiable as before.

Reason #3: Addicts will sicken as their illness grows worse, making sudden medical crisis an eventual certainty if they do not kill themselves first either by accident, medical event, or suicide. This may take weeks or years, but medical symptoms will almost certainly emerge requiring sudden and acute intervention. Again, this is an incidental crisis as I have defined it earlier, and it is therefore another opportunity to make another move to intervene.

It is a medical fact that two-thirds of addicts die of the medical consequences of alcoholism left untreated. One-third die of calamities of one sort or another. Before death, intervention opportunities are numerous, not one shot. Obviously, no intervention consultant can return for a second, third, and fourth try at the intervention. Subsequent interventions do not require much planning. The addict is "directed" to treatment in the aftermath of each crisis.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Magic in Non-Disciplinary Corrective Letters

I have always been amazed at how supervisors chase employees to improve performance, stomp their feet to get them to work on time, or scold workers to curtail their inappropriate behavior. When none of the usual, emotional wrangling to to correct employee performance works, and a major incident occurs, out come the big guns - disciplinary action. What happened to the art and science of managing employees with an effective non-disciplinary corrective letter?

The missing piece of armament that very few supervisors seem to ever master well is the non-disciplinary corrective letter. A non-disciplinary corrective letter is a management tool and supportive measure to call an employee's attention unsatisfactory job performance and motivate him or her to make corrections to satisfy standards. These tools can salvage employees, reduce risk of behavioral issues and acting out, and help preserve a more effective relationship with the supervisor.

Effective corrective letters utilize potential reward and fear of loss to match the motivational psyche of the employee. (Some employees become motivated by reward. Other by fear of loss. It is the equivalent of being either left handed or right handed. And, of course some employees are both -- call it "motivation-ally ambidextrous."

Here is a "classic" non-disciplinary corrective letter. Print this model, because it can be a good one in your desk draw to share with supervisors in your one-on-one consults with them.

To: Sally Smith, Machinist
From: John Doe, Supervisor
Subj: Attendance and Performance Problems
Date: 1-1-2006

Last week I reviewed the sick leave records and discovered that you have taken nine days of sick leave in the past year. Each of these days occurred on a Tuesday following a holiday weekend, or on a Friday preceding a three-day holiday weekend. I discussed my concern about this pattern with you last August 12, 2005. Since then, I have grown increasingly concerned. Your last such absence was on Dec. 27, 2005.

As you know, sick leave is a benefit to be used when necessary. The frequency of your sick leave is too high and affects your ability to perform essential functions. On February 15, several overdue widget projects caused a loss of their sale the day you were out. This cost the company $50,000. Your absences also negatively affect clerical staff. I would like to see your performance improve and your absences reduce.

You have excellent skills, and are a valued worker on the assembly line. But, if your use of sick leave remains high I will take additional steps to intervene, which could include administrative or disciplinary action.

Please provide verification of any future illness in which you lose work time. Please see me if you have any questions with regard to this request or the contents in this memo.

Thank you for your attention to this matter. As you know, the EAP is always available to assist you in the event a personal problem is contributing to your attendance problem. You can reach the EAP confidentially at 555-1234. I will review your use of sick leave in one month on Tuesday, February 1, 2006. Please plan to meet with me at 3:00 PM on that day.

cc: next level supervisor

Friday, October 9, 2009

Workplace Violence and Problematic Relationships with Supervisors

I wanted to talk with you about workplace violence and supervisor relationships.

EAPs routinely help resolve problematic relationships that employees have with their supervisors. If you haven't worked with this type of issue yet, you will.

I believe this intervention activity that HR managers, EAPs, and even OD people sometimes tackle has the most potential to improve productivity, reduce risk of violence, and help insulate the company from lawsuits -- big ones. The role EAPs play in helping resolve employee-supervisor conflict should get more attention in the literature.

I have always believed that effective EAP models reduce the number of potentially violent acts that, as a result, never happen. The question is, do companies appreciate this enormous benefit that can't be easily proven?

Many of these cases begin with employees who have problems with supervisors. These problems don't just create conflict and distraction. They can lead to death by a violent act. The subject of violence and improving relationships with supervisors is so critical to safety that I always include articles about it during the year when writing\'s newsletters. I so badly want to produce 7-9 minute Flash movie on "Best Tips for Reducing Supervisory Conflict with Subordinates" I think this would prevent violent acts more than the usual "know the nearest exit to your office if your employee explodes."

Employees love tips for improving their relationships with supervisors. There are huge payoffs for providing them, and top management will love you for doing so. That's because management can't rally employees to improve their relationships with their supervisors. The dynamics of paycheck-driven relationships simply makes it impossible. Your newsletter is a perfect medium for doing it.

Here are a few topics to consider for your next newsletter and those down the road. Chase after your newsletter company to write about these topics. If you are in a pinch, have them send me an e-mail and I will reply with my thoughts. They shouldn't have any problem if the writers possess an EAP background, of course.

Topic ideas

* Improving channels of communication and increasing frequency of
communicationSpeaking with your boss freely about concerns early on, before
problems arise
* Asking for advice about problems that you are experiencing on the job
* Writing down your concerns and sharing them; helping plan your evaluation goals
* Asking for feedback -- going to the boss and not waiting for it
* Considering your boss's perspective -- not just your own; how to do it and why
* Using tact when discussing differences
* Figuring out what your boss really wants from you, without asking
* Understanding that your supervisor is probably not "out to get you"

Don't just make a newsletter entertaining for employees. Make it a loss-prevention tool for the company. These tips will reduce conflict, improve program utilization, and increase top management's awareness for your true value.

Employee Newsletters for EAPs and Workforce Productivity