Types and Methods of Employee Counseling

Types of Employee Counseling

In attempting to help an employee who has a problem, a variety of counseling approaches are used. All of these counseling approaches, however, depend on active listening. Sometimes the mere furnishing of information or advice may be the solution to what at first appeared to be a knotty problem. More frequently, however, the problem cannot be solved easily because of frustrations or conflicts that are accompanied by strong feelings such as fear, confusion, or hostility. A manager, therefore, needs to learn to use whatever approach appears to be suitable at the time. Flexibility is a key component of the employee counseling process.

  1. Directive Counseling: It is full counseling. It is the process of listening to an employee’s problem, deciding with the employee what should be done and telling and motivating the employee to do it. This type of counseling mostly does the function of advice, reassurance and communication. It may also perform other functions of counseling.
  2. Non-directive Counseling: In non-directive counseling, the employee is permitted to have maximum freedom in determining the course of the interview. It is the process of skillfully listening and encouraging a counselee to explain troublesome problems, understand them and determine appropriate solutions. Fundamentally, the approach is to listen, with understanding and without criticism or appraisal, to the problem as it is described by the employee. The employee is encouraged, through the manager’s attitude and reaction to what is said or not said, to express feelings without fear of shame, embarrassment, or reprisal. The free expression that is encouraged in the non-directive approach tends to reduce tensions and frustrations. The employee who has had an opportunity to release pent-up feelings is usually in a better position to view the problem more objectively and with a problem-solving attitude.
  3. Participative Counseling: Both directive and non-directive methods suffer from limitations. While the former is often not accepted by independent employees, the latter needs professionals to operate and hence is costly. Hence, the counseling used in most situations is in between these two. This middle path is known as participative counseling. Participative is a counselor-counselee relationship that establishes a cooperative exchange of ideas to help solve an employee’s problems. It is neither wholly counsellor-centred nor wholly counselee-centred. Counselor and counselee mutually apply their different knowledge, perceptions, skills, perspectives and values to problem into the problems and find solutions.

Methods of Employee Counseling

Effectiveness of counselling largely depends on the methods and techniques as well as the skills used by the counselor. Methods and techniques of counseling change from person to person and from situation to situation. Normally employee counseling involves the following methods:

  1. Desensitization: According to Desensitization, once an animal has been shocked in a particular situation, it will continue to avoid it indefinitely. This is quite true in respect of human beings also. Once an individual is shocked in a particular situation, he gives himself no chance for the situation to recur. This method can be used to overcome avoidance reactions, so as to improve the emotional weak spots. If an employee is once shocked by the behavior, approach or action of his superior, he would continue to avoid that superior. It is difficult for such superiors to be effective counselors, unless such superiors prove otherwise through their behavior or action on the contrary. Similarly, once an employee is shocked by a particular situation, he can be brought back to that situation only if he will be convinced through desensitization that the shock will not to take place further. Counselor can make use of desensitization in such situations.
  2. Catharsis: Discharge of emotional tensions can be called catharsis. Emotional tensions can be discharged by talking them out or by relieving of the painful experience which engendered them. It is an important technique as a means of reducing the tensions associated with anxiety, fear, hostility, or guilt. Catharsis helps to gain insight into the ways an emotional trauma has been affecting the behavior.
  3. Insight: With the help of insight one may find that he has devalued himself unnecessarily, or his aspirations were unrealistic, or that his childish interpretation of an event was inaccurate. Then he can overcome his weakness.
  4. Developing the new patterns: Developing new patterns becomes very often necessary when other methods to deal with weak spots remain ineffective. In order to develop new, more satisfying emotional reactions, the individual needs to expose himself to situations where he can experience positive feelings. The manager who deals with such individuals may motivate or instigate them to put themselves into such situations, so that their self-confidence may increase.

Every counselor must concentrate his full attention on two aspects viz., using of assessment tools, and utilizing counselling methods, choice of which differs from person to person, situation to situation, and from case to case.

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