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Guest Blog

Author of this Article is Mr.Ram K Navaratna & can be reached at HR Resonance – email: [email protected] YouTube: hrresonance channel

Counseling the Troubled Employee

All of us as Managers and supervisors do come across a situation where an employee who is good and enthusiastic in his work suddenly slacks off, his performance drops; he is irritable, loses his temper often and is even rude to his fellow workers. Sometimes they may not be overt offensive
behavior thorough clear signals from employee’s body language do indicate that something is amiss somewhere, that the employee has some emotional problems. The cause for the employee’s optional upset may be job-related or it may be personal in nature. Hoverer, whatever the cause, the
employee’s performance on the job deteriorates and his negative behavior act as a drag upon the performance of the other employees as well. As superior we should be concerned about the well being of the employees whose performance on the job is our responsibility. How can one get the required performance from such an employee? One of the best and potent methods in counseling.

The objective of this article is to list out various types of counseling and to study the basic skills that one should acquire to be an effective counselor.

What is Counselling?

There is no dearth of definition on counseling. Each one emphasizing one or other aspect of it. However, from the study of various definitions, a few common themes emerge. Counseling is a TRANSACTION BETWEEN TWO PERSONS where there are MUTUAL TRUST and open and FREE COMMUNICATION with a view to (Counselee) who is having a PROBLEM WITH EMOTIONAL CONTENT to find a viable solution and to get the commitment of the counselee to implement the solution. Counseling can be simply defined as helping a person to solve his problem which has emotional content.

Types of Counselling:

There are three types

  1. Directive Counseling
  2. Non-Directive Counselling
  3. Co-operative Counseling

These are not distinct or mutually exclusive. Rather they are the stages in a counseling session or a series of sessions and can be thought of as forming counseling. However, with the experience and development of skills, the counseling process could be entirely non-directive in which the counselee is helped to find out the solution for his problems himself. This helps in enhancing his knowledge of himself, self-confidence, self-worth, and responsibility and commitment to implement the solution since he has found the solution himself.

Benefits of Counselling:

Many benefits accrue from counselling. It

  1. Improves employee’s mental health
  2. Overcome loneliness and alienation
  3. Improves mood and disposition
  4. Reduce anxiety and fear
  5. Improve interpersonal relationships & communication in general.
  6. Fosters openness and team spirit
  7. Improves organisational culture

Counselling skills:

There are some basic skills of counseling that can be learned by any superiors who wish to be an effective ‘people problem’ solver. In fact, most of us unknowingly use such skills to correct an employee deviating from the normally acceptable behavior on the job. All of these relate to interpersonal skills such as establishing rapport, active listening, conveying caring attitude, empathy, persuasion and tenacity of purpose to help the employee change and maintain the changed attitude s and behavior. Here are some of the tips to show how such skills are to be used in practical counseling situations.

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Counselling process

The counseling process consists of a face to face interview or a series of such interviews between the superior (counselor) and the employee (counselees). Such interviews preferably should be conducted in a location away from the normal place of work and working hours. This, however, is not an absolute necessity.

The first step is to make the counselee feel at ease. This is achieved by relating to the counselee on a human level transcending the superior-subordinate relationship. The counselee should be made to sit comfortably. Barriers of status could be avoided by not sitting across the table. The supervisor and the employee should be seated on two adjacent sides of the table. It may be a better idea to sit near a center or a coffee table. This would facilitate better eye contact and communication through body language.

Establishing Rapport:

The Supervisor must then convey to the employee the purpose of the interview emphasizing the need for satisfactory performance on the job of the employee. It should be conveyed to the employee that the manager himself and the organization are concerned about the employee’s well being and that he would try his best to help the employee sort out his

The manager then should ask the employee suitable questions to explore and find out the root of the problem. The right questions to ask are open-ended which will not generate just yes or no response but will make the counselee open up and speak out. This is very essential since, particularly during the initial phase, the employee is likely to be reticent.
For example, the question ‘what do you think should be done to improve the situation? Is likely to encourage the counselee to speak out, and during the extended conversation touch upon his more personal matter.

Active Listening:

As the employee starts speaking, the manager should be actively listening to him. Active listening involves slowing done your own thought processes, showing understanding by the nodding of the head or interjecting ‘oh I see’ ‘Is that so‘, etc. This will not only help the manager to concentrate on what the counselee is saying but also convey to the counselee that the manager is ‘with him’. Putting the right question as the narration proceeds will further help to establish the mutual rapport apart from giving valuable information to the counselor.


The next step is for the counselor to see the problem from the counselors’ frame of reference, getting into the counselee’s shoes, as it were. For doing so it is important that the counselor relies on feels the feeling of the counselee and expresses it. This apart from helping the counselor getting the counselees perspective will also make the counselee feel that the
counselor is on the same wavelength and enhance rapport and openness of
communication. How does the counselor express the feelings?

Suppose a person or a group of persons, there that the counselee complains about the response of the counselor should be ‘so you are annoyed with them’.

It is also necessary to summarise what is being said periodically. This helps in understanding the problem and bringing in objectivity. It helps the counselee to take possession of himself, get the correct perspective and find the solution to the problem himself. At this stage, the manager must care NOT to succumb to the temptation of diagnosing the problem himself
and render advice.

It is far better than the counselee himself looks into the face of the problem and finds his solution. This way his self-confidence will increase and so also his commitment to implement the solution as he himself has found it out.

Listed out the processes and basic types of counseling and to pinpoint the interpersonal skills required to be an effective counselor. Since an employee spends more than half his wakeful hours on the job, anything that upsets his mental or emotional state is bound to affect his job performance, all managers must acquaint themselves with the counseling
processes and learn the requisite skills. They should not shy away from their ‘people problems’. “They must learn to tackle them and help their subordinates have good mental health to be effective on the job.

Ref: Various sources

Disclaimer: This is a Guest Blog. Any views or opinions represented in the blog are personal & belong solely to the blog owner & do not represent those of people, institutions, or organizations that the owner may or may not be associated with in professional or personal capacity, unless explicitly stated. Any views or opinions are not intended to malign any religion, ethnic group, club, organization, company or individual

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