Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Having a Hangover is Not a Performance Problem

That's right. It's not a performance issue to have a hangover at work. If I told you, "I have a hangover," you could not use that statement for effective documentation concerning my job performance. It wouldn't fly. However, if I had my head down on my desk and you said, "What's wrong?", and I said, "I have a hangover", then nope, that still would be a performance issue. So what's the problem? 

 The performance issue is my head on the desk and not working.

Some EAP programs are still not training supervisors effectively enough to get this across. Listen, this is crucial. Don't risk getting human resource professionals upset that you do not know how to properly teach supervisors how to document.

Documentation is not useful to HR when language is subjective, not measurable, open to broad interpretation by others, or contains emotional language that demonstrates the writer's emotionality and personal distress.

The focus will shift from the employee to the supervisor by officials (typically HR) who must examine your documentation or in other ways act on it. If they can't act, they are going to get very upset. That's not good for you, your EAP, your organization, or the employee.

Second-hand reports by others are almost always problematic as well, unless specific in their account with evidence to back them up.

Using a term like “hung over” has no common interpretation, (especially if you have never had a hang-over.) It is not a “job performance” problem to be hung over. The behaviors associated with being hung over, of course, could be problematic. These are the behaviors that should be documented. Use this example in your supervisor training and you score big points, having convinced your supervisors what is at stake in constructing proper documentation.

You may want to visit the supervisor training solutions page.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Drug Testing: When Supervisors Are Friends with Employees

Do you have supervisors who are friends with their employees? Do you have any supervisors who socialize with employees? Do any of these supervisors drink alcohol with employees (or worse use drugs) they supervise? These questions are closely associated with dual relationships, conflict of interest, and risk to the organization that comes with denial, procrastination, and avoidance of the need to confront a personal relationship. If you are training supervisors, here's language to incorporate into your presentation on substance abuse. I believe you will find it quite effective. Be sure to raise this issue, and expect some "discussion" after you do.

"If you are friends with your employee, you will face a challenge in recommending a drug test.

If you socialize and drink with your employee, this challenge is made even more difficult. Most supervisors will put their own job security ahead of such friendships when drinking or drug use facilitates a crisis at work.
Testing will not hurt a true friendship, and it may prevent a crisis that forces you to make a choice."  

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The EAP Is Not a Place. It's a Program

The employee assistance program is not simply a “place” where counselors wait for employees to show up via self- or supervisor referral. More accurately, the EAP is a programmatic approach to the management of troubled employees and the risks that arise with human behavior and interaction in the work organization. Examples include conflict, morale issues, team building, and the need for consultative guidance offered to managers. The EAP is a tool for supervisors to use in resolving the problems with employees. Supervisors can succeed in managing a troubled employee without the employee ever going to the EAP, if in fact the employee corrects their behavior after constructive confrontation, where the EAP was used as a resource within context of the corrective interview. If the employee gets well. The "program" worked. It happens all the time. So how important are utilization rates, literally? Well, it's important to understand the level of EAP use in this more important context of using the programmatic approach to effect change actually helps salvage troubled employees. Perhaps after a supervisor referral, an employee will decline attendance, but if he or she takes the need to make personal changes seriously, which lead to better health and better productivity, it worked. It happens all the time, and where the EAP option doesn't not exist, loss of human capital more often results.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Good Supervisor Follow-Up Begins Before the EAP Referral

Are supervisors referring employees to your EAP without a referral form? Are employees still showing up telling you they were referred by the supervisor, but you have no information in hand making you aware of what the performance issues are. You need to hit the reboot switch on your supervisor training and education so you get more effective supervisor referrals. Here's what to say to your supervisors: Follow up begins before a supervisor referral is made to the EAP. This means the supervisor should pick up the phone and inform the EAP that a referral is pending. A discussion of the performance issues should take place. Then, a referral form should be used. If the supervisor does not have a referral form, then performance issues should be delineated on a piece of paper and two copies made. The employee and the EAP each get a copy. Making the supervisor use a checklist is preferred. It creates more quality and quantity in the performance documentation. The supervisor keeps the original. The EAP must have a list of written performance issues of concern to the supervisor. The assessment of the employee should occur with both the EA professional and the employee having this hard copy of performance issues as discussion points between them. Anything less will create two problems: 1) The employee will control the EAP interview and degree to which information about the performance problems is make known. And, 2) the EAP will be forced to accept the employee's version and opinion as to how serious the performance problems are, what they are, and the degree to which the employee issues are really all the supervisor's fault. The employee will also be less likely to sign a release. At this point, you've likely lost the referral and enabled growing dysfunction. Are you educating your supervisors with skills and knowledge about how to use the EAP in supervision? Consider this product as  an EAP's most valuable weapon for increasing supervisor referrals.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

EA Professionals: "Watch Your Mouth!"

If you are an EA professional, you may want to examine your language. For example, labeling someone a functional alcoholic is a strong and reinforcing enabling behavior. Don't you agree? It is used to describe someone the enabler believes to be alcoholic, but also seems to “function” acceptably in their occupation or social activities. Usually these areas are where the enabler knows the alcoholic best. In truth, you know there is no such thing as functional alcoholism. The term doesn't makes sense. It foists alcoholism into a behavioral construct rather than a disease construct, and you don't want to be responsible for this terrible impact. Need more clarity? Think disease. There is no such thing as functional cancer, right? Both alcoholism and cancer are chronic potentially fatal illnesses that grow worse over time. Ok, straight up. The term functional alcoholism allows the enabler to continue the advantages of the relationship they have with the alcoholic, even while their role as an enabler grows worse. The defense is called “minimizing.” EA professionals, watch your mouths and don't join forces with the larger society that struggles to see alcoholism as a disease.