Personal Assistance Service (PAS) | 2200 West Main Street | Erwin Square Tower | 4th Floor, Suite 400A | Durham, NC 27705 | 919-416-1PAS (919-416-1727)

Supervisor Newsletter

Newsletter-June 2018

Q. If an employee approaches a supervisor about a personal problem, should he or she always be referred to PAS no matter what the problem might be? For example, my employee complained that he hadn't seen a dentist in three years. I recommended mine.

A. If your employee asks for a recommendation for a dentist, there certainly isn't harm in sharing the name of the one you use. However, if the employee begins to share personal reasons for the delay, a recommendation to PAS may be appropriate. Every day, employees share personal problems with coworkers and supervisors at work. There is nothing unusual about the practice. However, some issues that at first appear benign can be associated with severe problems that are suitable for bringing to PAS.

It is important for you as a supervisor to have a sense of curiosity about your employees and their well-being. The rationale is that your employees represent your most valuable resource. This curiosity does not mean involving yourself in employees' personal matters or diagnosing problems. But it does mean going a step further when an employee approaches you with something personal and considering whether a referral to PAS could be helpful. Curiosity means asking why. In your case, a delay in seeing a dentist could be associated with fear or financial hardship, among other reasons.

Q. Can you offer advice or tips for meeting with an employee to address a performance issue, motivate them to correct it, and encourage them to use PAS?

A. You may want to start by talking with someone at PAS to review the specifics of your circumstance. You may also find the following tips helpful:

  1. focus on job performance,
  2. be specific in describing behavior and examples,
  3. ask the employee if he/she understands the situation clearly,
  4. ask the employee to paraphrase what the supervisor has said,
  5. ask the employee for a commitment to change,
  6. set a specific time for follow-up and review,
  7. explain that the employee must decide whether he/she should seek help for any personal issue that may be contributing to the performance issue,
  8. explain clearly how PAS works, and discuss confidentiality,
  9. fully assure the worker that use of PAS does not affect job security or promotional opportunities, and it is not punitive in any way.

Q. What is the most difficult roadblock to supervisors using PAS for help managing troubled employees?

A. The most difficult roadblock supervisors face in using PAS to manage troubled employees is making the switch from doing it all themselves to using a systematic approach to assess, refer, treat, and follow up on a troubled employee.

The old approach may include ignoring problems until they precipitate a crisis. Although an employee may sign a release that provides for limited feedback about PAS participation, a supervisor is, by design, removed entirely from involvement in the employee's problems. This shift can be difficult because the supervisor must give up the ability to control the helping process and its outcome. Turning these roles over to PAS frees the supervisor from the burden of being counselor and caseworker. While supervisors may feel competent in handling these roles and may experience satisfaction and meaning by involving themselves in their employees' lives, this approach carries significant risk for all parties concerned.