Supervisor Newsletter - December 2022

I have referred many employees to PAS over the years. I often notice the personal problem gets resolved, but performance also improves. This is expected, but it is often beyond what even I anticipated. What explains this surprising level of performance improvement after employees visit PAS?

When employees participate with PAS, they are not only assisted in resolving a personal problem, but may also need to participate in ongoing activities or personal efforts to maintain and improve mental and physical wellness. Preventing relapse of a substance use disorder especially requires a lot of self-care for the patient/employee. This may include focusing on improving one’s diet, attention to health needs, better stress management, chronic disease education, better problem-solving, psychotherapy, goal setting, work-life balance, and attending to relationship problems at home, the continuation of which would jeopardize recovery. It is sometimes said that employees who visit PAS for help with a personal problem get "better than well." This is the phenomenon you are witnessing.

My employee has had serious attendance problems. I referred the worker to PAS, and a release was signed. Everything is going well I hear, but should I expect attendance problems to stop immediately or should I give it some time?

You should expect complete resolution of the attendance problem the next time your employee is due to be at work, no matter how long the attendance problem has existed. Attendance problems are symptoms that stem from the problems that create them, whether it be a faulty alarm clock or a serious substance abuse issue. Consider, if the worker can’t engage in the essential functions of the job, one of which is coming to work on time, then the worker is not qualified to be in the job. So you should expect a return to the approved schedule. If the employee needs to miss work for specific periods of time to address a concern or need associated with the resolution of the attendance problem, and this accommodation is one you can grant without undue burden on your department, this informed absence or lateness to work would be appropriate.

What is the underlying reason some supervisors bully employees? Is it insecurity or psychological problems? And what are the most common types of bullying behaviors exhibited by supervisors?

Most supervisors do not bully employees because they are insecure or have psychological problems. Instead, research appears to show motivation to bully is predominantly driven by the need to control subordinates and fear that they won’t produce results without being intimidated. Research also shows that some supervisors feel better and get an energy boost from intimidating others, but the penalties arrive shortly in the form of poor productivity, morale problems, and turnover – everything a supervisor doesn’t want. 

The most common types of bullying include 1) yelling at employees or speaking to them in a way that causes them to feel intimidated; 2) making inappropriate personal criticisms; 3) giving unreasonable deadlines and work; 4) showing favoritism toward only certain workers; 5) constantly criticizing; 6) threatening employees with disciplinary action or termination (e.g., "I'm going to write you up!"); and 7) micromanaging (nitpicking and controlling the details after delegating work).

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