Do’s and Don’ts
Employee counseling can be one of the most difficult aspects of being a good manager. Since employees can come to you with a variety of different questions, needs, etc, it is important to follow some key guidelines to ensure your employee counseling sessions are productive and bring resolution to any issues at hand.
DO counsel employees behind closed doors. It’s important that the employee is able to speak freely without fear that someone will hear the conversation.
DO keep all conversations confidential. Provided the conversation is not one in which the employee has indicated that they may harm another individual or themselves, it is critical that the employee can trust that your conversation will be kept private.
DO take notes. This will help you effectively address questions or concerns the employee may have objectively, and will also ensure you don’t forget anything that was said during your discussion.
DO remain objective. Regardless of your relationship with the employee, it is critical that you remain objective toward the employee and their situation (again, taking notes helps with this). You can empathize with the employee’s situation while remaining objective in your response.
DO support positive behavior. When you are counseling an employee for behavioral reasons, make sure you support positive behaviors before addressing any behaviors that are unproductive. This will help the employee feel good about themselves while understanding that there area in which they may need work.
DON’T record your conversation. It is against the law to record conversations without prior written consent from your employee. Taking notes is legal, but recording conversations is not.
DON’T repeat what is said. Make sure that you do not share your discussion with co-workers. This will damage your reputation as a manager and could potentially put the employee at risk.
DON’T get angry. If you are providing behavioral counseling, it is important that you remain calm and stick to the subject at hand. Do not get angry or show emotion, as it will minimize your position as a manager and a leader within your company.
DON’T gossip. If an employee has come to your office to “chat” about someone else in the office, politely inform them that you don’t participate in such activities and would appreciate it if they would not as well. Establishing this guideline is very important to ensure success, especially early in the working relationship.
DON’T make empty promises. If you promise to do something to help them, then do it. If not, the employee will not forget the empty promises. Make sure you commit your promises to paper, whatever they might be. This will ensure you are committed to helping the employee through their situation quickly and effectively.
Above all else, use common sense when counseling employees. If you are comfortable, ask a peer or your boss to sit in with you to ensure your conversation stays on target and is what it needs to be.