Q: How do I know whether an employee’s behavior reflects mental illness to the point of needing a psychiatrist or professional counselor?

And should I refer to the EAP first or seek a fitness-for-duty certification? A:  You will not be able to make a determination of mental illness in your official capacity as a supervisor. Getting too focused on whether your em-ployee is mentally ill will lead to a delay in taking appropriate action. In an extreme […]

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An employee says her husband is violent.

Q.  She won’t go to the EAP because she thinks he’ll read her mind and know it.  Some employees are worried for her, but he is the only spouse who has brought roses to the office!  Frankly, he seems nice.  What do you think is going on? A.  There are many possibilities, but you should […]

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Q: I have an employee who does not measure up to the performance standards of others on our team.

Can you suggest ways to facilitate improvements that I may not have considered before I recommend the EAP? Note, that we are very stressed and under-resourced. A:  Your team gives you an advantage for helping your employee improve performance. First review the workload. Some employees in resource-stressed organizations often fool themselves into thinking they can […]

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Coaching Employees

Q.  I think it’s important to coach my employees properly, and because we work in a customer service environment, being assertive is simply a skill that folks need to learn.  I don’t want to counsel employees about their personal problems, but drawing the line is tough.  Any tips? A.  Certainly there is nothing wrong with […]

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Q: I manage my employees’ performance problems by doing everything I can to help them improve.

If that fails, I refer them to the EAP. Sometimes they are willing to attend, and sometimes not. Is this a proper use of the EAP? A:  You are using the EAP properly to address job performance issues, but using it sooner rather than later has advantages you should consider. Don’t see the EAP as […]

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Educating Employees about Diversity in the Workplace

Q.  Regarding diversity in the workplace, what is the purpose of educating employees to understand the cultural norms of foreign-born employees while training employees from other countries in the expectations of the cultural norms in the USA? A. When training foreign-born, new workers to understand American customs, you will not eliminate manners of communication to which […]

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Mindfulness Training May Assuage Early-Life Trauma

Scientific American We live in an increasingly stressful world.  There’s an aspirational sense things should improve with time, witness the U.S. War on Poverty or the U.N. Millennium Development Goals.  But in the last 50 years, many stress risks, perceived and real, have grown worse: extreme weather, violent conflict, economic dislocation, poverty (especially for children), […]

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Q: None of my employees has indicated that they are having financial problems.

Still, I know some of them must struggle with finances. How are money problems among employees different than other personal problems? A:  Typically, money is equated with power and status. Thus, for a person with financial problems, particularly overwhelming credit card debt, a terrible feeling of dread can drive a belief in personal failure. This […]

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Giving Employees Feedback

Q.  Can you give me quick tips on giving feedback to employees, specifically, how to respond to their defensiveness and what to say or not say in response that will increase the likelihood of their finally accepting what I have to say? A.  Feedback is morecomplex than it first appears. Not only is there a […]

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Q: My employee periodically refers to himself as an alcoholic but has been sober for 22 years.

Why does he use this term? A:  Many alcoholics in an active recovery (especially 12-step programs) who are abstinent from alcohol and mood-altering substances refer to themselves as alcoholics or recovering alcoholics depending on whom they are with and the context of the social or occupational setting. The recognition that one is an alcoholic is […]

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