EAPs: Taking Emotion Out of Work

Written by Bernie Dyme – A friend of Marcus Newman and GCG Financial.

The other day, I heard about an interesting study by Duke University researchers. It found that doctors often make different recommendations for their patients than they do for themselves.

In a nut shell, when trying to determine a course of treatment for themselves, physicians let their emotions get in the way.

And why wouldn't they? It is hard to separate your own emotions from something that very directly affects you and/or your loved one.

Well this got me to thinking about the workplace and managing employees. No matter how good we are as managers, it’s hard to separate our personal and professional roles with respect to employees. We are only human and our emotions often get involved in making tough employee decisions.

How often for instance have you or any of your managers been confronted with an employee with job performance issues who offers that problems outside of work are causing them? And how often have you or your colleagues “given the employee the benefit of the doubt” or gotten really angry at her “excuses”?

Be honest.

Of course you've had one of these reactions. We are all human and, like the physicians in the Duke University study, we are all affected by our emotions.

That’s why an employee assistance program (EAP) is so valuable. It helps take the emotion out of an encounter and allows you, the manager, to deal very specifically with the performance and workplace behavior.

You can still be compassionate, but you can leave the emotions to the EAP and, in essence, be of greater help to the employee by offering him or her confidential help by a professional.

I’ve been in the EAP field for 30 years and have always counseled managers to see the disciplinary process as something that runs parallel but not in lieu of any emotional issues.

When performance issues and emotional issues are treated by these two separate but parallel means, the employee has all of the tools to get better in both his work and personal life. He can’t use work or home to avoid dealing with whatever it is that is causing him pain which usually leads to a successful outcome in both areas.

Also, consider using EAP before, during and after any constructive confrontations with an employee. Long term success comes from this close collaboration between managers or HR and the EAP which can only occur if you have an EAP that is highly accessible and visible.

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Questions or comments? Please call Marcus Newman RHU, CBC at GCG Financial, Inc.  847-457-3058.

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