Frontline Supervisor: Addressing Employee Resistance

Frontline Supervisor: Addressing Employee Resistance

On 7 Jan 2016, in Frontline Supervisor, Management, Workplace

Each month, "The Balance Sheet" provides questions and answers from experts on a topic that's important to you as a manager. Please feel free to share this information with other colleagues who also manage people.

Q. I referred my employee to BJC EAP for performance issues, but was asked, “What will they do or say to me?” I know BJC EAP helps employees, but I couldn’t be specific. I think the employee is worried about sharing too much.

A. Most employees do not realize that BJC EAP only interviews as much as needed to ascertain the true nature of the personal problem, with the goal of getting the employee to the right source of help. This is a critical distinction that can help employees feel more willing to go for help. Assessment and referral are the operative terms. Employees do typically disclose highly personal information in assessments, but BJC EAP consultants know how to interview properly to gather only the necessary information.

Q. I know BJC EAP is completely confidential, but when I attempted to refer my employee recently he resisted, saying that he didn’t trust the program. I feel stuck with this excuse. How should I respond? Should I permit or recommend another source of assistance?

A. You should recommend only BJC EAP. Recommending another source of help would invite problems and issues associated with lack of accountability and problematic communication. Only BJC EAP operates with the proper understanding of your company and how to help employees, interface with supervisors, control access to information, follow up, intervene with problems during follow-up, direct employees to proper resources or re-motivate employees, if necessary. Employee assistance programs like BJC EAP follow confidentiality laws and communication procedures that typically are more stringent than those of community resources.

Q. How might a supervisor play an innocent, unsuspecting role in an employee’s decision not to follow through with treatment or BJC EAP recommendations?

A. Depending on the difficulty of the recommended treatment and the diligence required of the employee to be successful with it, a decision to not follow BJC EAP advice is often based on the mistaken belief that it isn’t necessary. The classic example is the employee with alcoholism who believes that prescribed treatment really isn’t necessary in order to stop drinking. The employee may think, “I will just stop on my own and save the hassle.” Family, friends, employers and even strangers may be elicited to participate in passive discussions about self-control prior to such a final decision. They become unwitting co-endorsers as the alcoholic uses them as “sounding boards” to build support for his or her decision. These solicitations by the employee can be subtle and may seem benign. Supervisors willing to participate in such discussions are especially valuable in the patient’s formulation of his or her rationale to quit treatment.

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