Barriers to Supervisory Referral of Employees
Sometimes a supervisor does not make the proper early referral even when the employee’s job performance continues to deteriorate and his/her work behavior worsens. Frequently, this reluctance is caused by feelings and attitudes such as:
Anger – The supervisor may feel anger because the employee is frequently absent, causing continual schedule adjustments or because the employee breaks promises and turns in unsatisfactory work. The supervisor may also feel self-directed anger at his/her inability to change his/her employee or to even understand such unpredictable and irrational behavior.
Guilt – The supervisor may feel guilt because he/she thinks he/she may have handled the situation incorrectly or thinks he/she is incapable of handling it. The supervisor may feel guilt because he/she has lost his/her temper with the employee. Guilt leads to feelings of inadequacy which may cause the supervisor to avoid dealing with the situation at all.
Fear – The supervisor may feel fear because he/she considers discussions with the employee to be highly personal. The supervisor may also fear losing control of his/her actions if angry. The supervisor may fear criticism in return for some real or imagined failings. He/she may also fear the effects which a referral will have on the employee’s job security. Or he/she may fear that confronting the employee may cause him/her to experience even more or deeper problems. And finally there is always the fear of actual or threatened harm or other types of reprisals.
Denial – Frequently, a supervisor may deny the employee has a job performance problem. This denial may be reflected by statements such as: “The best employee I have, when he or she is here.” “Job performance is great except when he or she gets into moody periods.”
Ego Involvement – Ego involvement between the supervisor and the employee occurs when the supervisor feels that he/she has molded the employee in his/her own image. The supervisor sees the employee’s successes and failures as his/her own, and, therefore, wants to solve the problem alone rather than request consultation and assistance.
All of these feelings are normal. Most people are reluctant to become involved in what they see as difficult and unpleasant situations. The supervisor needs to be aware of these feelings because they prevent the employee from getting assistance.