I was discussing my employee's attendance problem when she mentioned that family issues were causing her lateness. She added that she would be contacting PAS. I look forward to positive changes, but should I have done anything more?
Beyond following up later and affirming the positive changes in her attendance, the situation with this employee seems to have been handled well. This is a self-referral and a great example of how PAS performs, but there are a couple of tips worth considering. Depending on the seriousness of this attendance issue, offering the employee the opportunity to use your phone or to call PAS "now" from your office might be effective in helping ensure she does in fact use PAS. It's the employee's choice, of course. The second is to be firm and supportive but clear that if the attendance problem does not change, then you will be considering the next steps in correcting the problem. This will also facilitate follow-through because a disciplinary step is implied without it being committed to it yet.
Is a "constructive confrontation" with an employee an interview that always includes mention of some potential disciplinary action to help motivate the worker to feel more urgency about making changes in performance?
The term "constructive confrontation" has many definitions and applications in human interaction, but in the work setting it typically refers to a purposeful and planned meeting with an employee experiencing performance or conduct issues to motivate the worker to make improvements or desired changes. Although a constructive confrontation may utilize mention of disciplinary action, this is not a required element. Most employees perceive the supervisor to be a legitimate authority figure who has control or influence over the disciplinary processes. This is a dynamic of authority, and it is not overlooked by employees when confronted by supervisors. This dynamic is also helpful to instill motivation. Supervisors who socialize frequently with subordinates or are viewed by them as a friend may experience more difficulty in succeeding with constructive confrontations. This is because the dynamic of authority has eroded. Reasserting this authority can be tough because it requires choices that stress the friendship.
I have been a department head overseeing dozens of other supervisors for many years. I think many don't see all the benefits that come with managing a more complete relationship with a worker beyond simple concerns about work output. What benefits accrue from more engaged relationships with employees?
As you point out, a more complete supervisory relationship with employees has many payoffs. Beyond focusing on quality or quantity of work, these payoffs include improved communication and a closer, more trusting relationship between the supervisor and employee. This reduces supervisor stress and negative emotions that create unwanted, unnecessary distraction when problems arise. Employees become more interested in their work, improve self-awareness, accomplish more goals, and experience improved job satisfaction, which can reduce turnover and loss of a valuable worker. Ultimately, proper employee management reduces conflict, too. Trust and respect between the worker and manager grow, and a collaboration develops that benefits the work unit. PAS can help supervisors develop more engaged relationships with employees by helping analyze personnel problems, conflicts, and communication issues, as well as assist in finding creative approaches to help workers make changes that the supervisor can consider.