Free Product Previews Terms of Web site Get EAP Tools Catalog Join EAP Toolbox Subscriber Input HOTLINE
EAP Skill Builder: Before You Hang Up with the Referring Supervisor
Making an EAP assessment go smoothly and completely is always the goal, so when a supervisor phones to consult with you prior to referring a troubled employee, be sure you ask about or address these six issues that are key to an easier assessment:

1) Ask the supervisor to ask the employee being referred to sign a consent for the release of confidential information. Signing a release is voluntary for the employee, but the employee is more likely to be successful in treatment or counseling if a release exists. An employee assistance professional who pops the question of signing a release during the session usually has to explain why and motivate the employee to understand how signing a release is in his or her best interest. You’ll make this part of your assessment easier and quicker if the employee anticipates signing a release before reaching the end of an assessment.

2) Ask the supervisor if he or she has information about the nature of any personal problems the employee is facing. Firsthand knowledge or information shared by the employee with the supervisor becomes appropriate to share. No, this is not asking the supervisor to be an amateur diagnostician, and it does not encourage getting personally involved with the employee. This can save you untold hours of interviewing time in the pursuit of discovering the nature of the employee’s personal problem.

3) Ask the supervisor if this is the first attempt to refer the employee to the EAP and if not, what happened the first time. Was it an informal referral or an encouraged self-referral? This question can help you understand how supervisors view the EAP and how soon they are likely to consider using it to manage troubled employees.

4) Ask for a complete picture of the performance issues, preferably using a checklist. A checklist helps you better prepare for an assessment. It can help you see patterns associated with the personal problem and will aid you in coming to a diagnostic conclusion. It will also allow you to ask more effective questions during the assessment interview.

5) Ask the supervisor what is planned if the employee’s performance does not improve and whether the employee knows about this next administrative or disciplinary step. Recommend to the supervisor that the employee be told what this next step is. This interrupts an enabling pattern and helps the supervisor commit to change, rather than making hollow threats, which causes employees with behavioral-medical problems to get sicker. Committing to change helps the employee feel motivated to cooperate with the EAP and also make commitments to personal change.

6) Calm the supervisor down. Determine if the supervisor is emotionally charged and “involved” in the pursuit of punishment rather than discipline. There is a difference, and the attitude of the referring supervisor can support or sabotage the employee’s progress and motivation. Don’t let the supervisor undermine the helping process.