Counseling is the service offered to the individual who is under going a problem and needs professional help to overcome it. The problem keeps him disturbed high strung and under tension and unless solved his development is hampered or stunted. Counseling therefore is a more specialized service requiring training in personality development and handling exceptional groups of individuals.
Meaning of counseling
Complex processes such as counseling are always difficult to define. In dictionary terms the word Counseling has a variety of meanings.
It often implies the giving of advice or the recommendation of a particular course of action, presupposing that the one who is advising or recommending does so from a basis of superior knowledge and greater wisdom. The term also carries certain connotations which are derived from the legal use of the word ‘counsel’. In recent years, however, the word “counseling” has acquired a specific meaning as a technical term to describe a particular kind of therapeutic interaction between people.
Many authors and institutions have defined counseling as follows:
The steering committee of the Standing Committee for the Advancement of Counseling (UK) in 1969 offered the following definition. “Counseling is a process through which one person helps another by purposeful conversation in an understanding atmosphere. It seeks to establish a helping relationship in which the one counseled can express his/her thoughts and feelings in such a way as to clarify his/her situation, come to terms with some new experience, see his/her difficulty more objectively, and to face the problem with less anxiety and tension.
Its basic purpose is to assist individuals to make their decision from among the choices available to them.” Three components which are essential if the meeting of two persons, one of whom has a problem, is to be termed “counseling” are the process, the objectives, the relationship.
According to Brammer & Shostrom, “Counseling is defined as a way of relating and responding to another person so that he/she is helped to explore his thoughts, feelings and behavior to reach a clear self-understanding. Also, the person is helped to find and use his/her strengths to be able to cope more effectively with making appropriate decisions, or taking appropriate action.”
According to Makinde (1983) “Counseling is as an integrative process between a client, who is vulnerable and who needs assistance, and a counselor who is trained and educated to give this assistance. The goal of the interaction is to help the client learn to deal more effectively with him/herself and the reality of his environment.”
According to Willey & Andrew, Counseling involves two individuals one seeking help and other a professionally trained person helped solved problems to orient and direct him to words a goals.
Counseling has been practiced in one form to other since the evolution of mankind. In every field which requires dealing with people, counseling is essential. Counseling is dyadic relationship between two persons; a manager who is offering help (counselor) and an employee whom such help is given (counselee). It may be formal or informal. Formal counseling is a planned and systematic way of offering help to subordinates by expert counselors. Informal counseling is concerned with day to day relationship between the manager and his subordinates where help is readily offered without any formal plan.
Every manager has a responsibility to counsel his subordinates. When individual managers are unable to deal with specific problems, the counseling services of a professional body is required. An organization can either offer the services of a full-time in-house counselor or refer the employee to a community counseling service. Counseling occasionally is necessary for employees due to job and personal problems that subject them to excessive stress. Counseling is discussion of a problem that usually has emotional content with an employee in order to help the employee cope with it better. Counseling seeks to improve employee’s mental health. People feel comfortable about themselves and about other people and able to meet the demands of life when they are good in mental health.
The counseling need not be limited to work-related issues. Marital problems, problems with children, financial difficulties or general psychiatric problems may not be directly related to the job, however, we recognize that individuals cannot completely separate their life away from the job from their life on the job. Therefore personal problems do affect a worker’s job performance. So counseling is also necessary for personal problems along with work- related issues. Performance counseling involves helping an employee understand his own performance, find where he stands in relation to others and identify ways to improve his skills and performance. It focuses, essentially, “on the analysis of performance of the job and identification of training needs for further improvement”. An increasingly popular form of counseling involves employees who are about ready to retire. Pre-retirement counseling prepares individuals to deal with the realities of leisure, as well as outlining details about social security benefits and company pension provisions.
Employee Counseling at Workplace
It is required of every manager to help his subordinate in the free exploration of his strengths, abilities, competence, interests and other related positive features. It requires participation from both the parties in the performance review and goal-setting process. Thus, performance counseling has become an important feature not only in performance review but also in the implementation of the appraisal system in the organization. It is natural that subordinates need guidance, coaching or help of an experienced person. This role may be played by the immediate superior or the personnel manager. The managers or superiors who have to play the role of ‘counselor’ can play it successfully if they develop the skill for counseling. Such a skill would be useful in understanding subordinates, assisting them in their efforts to grow and develop, and in improving their interpersonal relations both at work and in the society at large. Counseling is a two-way process in which a counselor provides help to the workers by way of advice and guidance. There are many occasions in work situations when a worker feels the need for guidance and counseling.
The term “counseling” refers to the help given by a superior to his subordinate in improving the latter’s performance. It is in effect a process of helping subordinates to achieve better adjustment with his work environment, to behave as a psychologically mature individual, and help in achieving a better understanding of others so that his dealings with them can be effective and purposeful. Distinction between Organizational Counseling Interventions & Organizational Development Organizational Development (OD) and Organizational Counseling Interventions (OCI) are two natural extensions of systems thinking within the larger discipline of Psychology. Given the fact that OD and OCI technologies have a common origin within Psychology as a discipline, and the development of the systems perspective in particular, it is necessary to identify the core distinctions between these two approaches to serving the organization: Both OCI and OD interventions are designed to improve overall organizational health and effectiveness, which in turn improve the working conditions of individual employees. Some of the typical areas of focus and expertise where OD and OCI differ are listed below, and these may be used as decision-making criteria.
Personality dysfunction (substance abuse, psychiatric symptoms, etc.) Departmental (re)organization
Grief reaction to loss or death
Critical Incident Stress Management
Skills development and technology usage
Employee/patient safety issues
Team – building
Communication breakdown within teams
Entrenched interpersonal conflict
Promoting improved/increased organizational performance
Promoting organizational wellness
Who Can Counsel
People who are in a position to counsel in the work place could be co-workers who would function as peer counselors, supervisors and managers who would counsel their own staff and staff members like the human resources manager and the training manager who could counsel any staff member because of the uniqueness of their positions. In addition, directors or senior managers are well placed to counsel members of the management staff. Counseling deals with personal, social, vocational, empowerment, and educational concerns. Counselors work only in areas in which they have expertise. These areas may include intra- and interpersonal concerns related to school or college adjustment, mental health, aging, marriage or family issues, employment, and rehabilitation.
Counseling Quick Reference
Keep this quick reference to use whenever counseling individuals, employees or team members. Counselors must demonstrate these qualities to counsel effectively: a) Respect for subordinates.
b) Self and cultural awareness.
Counselors must possess these counseling skills:
1. Active listening.
Effective counselors avoid common counseling mistakes. Counselors should avoid: 1. Personal bias.
2. Rash judgments.
4. Losing emotional control.
5. Inflexible counseling methods.
6. Improper follow-up.
When to Counsel
There are many situations in the workplace when counseling might be called for: Some of these problems arise outside the work place. They can be personal problems such as sexual behavior that might pose a high risk for HIV/AIDS, or addiction to drugs or alcohol. They may be related to family issues: money problems, sickness and death in the family causing grief or trauma.
They may also be issues related specifically to the work place, such as matters like career development, discipline, performance, relating to customers or clients, promotion, redeployment, transfers, redundancies, retirement, etc. There might be problems individuals have in relating to others in the work place, either as individuals or as part of a team. Other problems may lie in relating to customers, to bosses or to those in authority in general. Bosses might also have problems in relating to their juniors.
Need of Counseling
Counseling is an integral part of an over-all program of guidance. “Counseling is a specific process of assistance extended by an expert in an individual situation to a needy person”. This means the counseling situation arises when a needy person is face to face with and expert who makes available his assistance to the needy individual to fulfill his needs. There is an urgent need of introducing and strengthening the counseling service to meet the various needs of the individuals or employees.
1. To help in the total development of the organization: Along with the intellectual development proper motivation and clarification of goals and ideas to pupils in conformity with their basic potentialities and social tendencies are important total development of the individual nauseates that individual differences among them are expected, accepted, understood and planned for and all types of experiences in an institution are to be so organized as to contribute to the total development of the organization.
2. To develop readiness for choice and changes to face new challenges.
3. To minimize the mismatching between achievement and expectation and help in the efficient use of manpower.
4. To motivate the youth for self-employment.
5. To help fresher establish proper identity
6. To identify and motivate the counselee
7. To help the counselee in their period of turmoil and confusion.
8. To help in checking wastage and stagnation.
9. To identity and help individuals in need of special help.
10. To minimize the incidence of indiscipline.
Bargadon has mentioned the following situations where counseling in required: 1. When a pupil requires not only reliable information but also an interesting introspection of those in formations which can solve his personal difficulties. 2. When a pupil needs intelligent listener who has more experience than the pupil to whom he can recite his difficulties and through which can seek suggestions for his working plan. 3. When the counselor has to assess those facilities which can help in resolving the pupil problems but the pupil doesn’t enjoy such an access to those facilities. 4. When the pupil has some problem but he is unaware of that problem and his development, he is to be made aware of that problem. 5. When the pupil is aware of the problem and difficulties created by the problem but he feels difficult to define it and to understand it that is, when the pupil is familiar with the presence of the problem and its nature but he is unable to face the problem due to this temporary tension and distraction. 6. When the pupil suffer the main maladjustment problem or some handicapped with is temporary and which needs careful long due diagnosis by an expert.
Characteristics of Effective Counseling
1. Purpose: Clearly define the purpose of the counseling.
2. Flexibility: Fit the counseling style to the character of each subordinate and to the relationship desired.
3. Respect: View subordinates as unique, complex individuals, each with a distinct set of values, beliefs, and attitudes.
4. Communication: Establish open, two-way communication with subordinates using spoken language, nonverbal actions, gestures, and body language. Effective counselors listen more than they speak.
5. Support: Encourage subordinates through actions while guiding them through their problems.
Problems in Employee Counseling
A manager has to deal with various types of problems in dealing with his subordinates, employees and particularly problem employees. Basically no employee is a problem employee, except hereditary and inborn perversions, criminal tendencies, addictions, and nervous and psychological breakdowns. Once an employee turns to be a problem employee, the employer has mainly two options viz., repair and recover, or replace. For the purpose of repairing and recovering and rehabilitating, employee counseling has an important role to play. Problems are generally associated with the causes like:
1. Inferiority and Low Self-Esteem
Inferiority feeling of an employee may play great havoc in individual life and work. Though a mild form of inferiority in certain persons may help them to work hard and overcome the inferiority. But very often, inferiority complex may lead a person to utter disappointment and depression leading to withdrawal perversion, absenteeism and even psychosomatic and psychotic problems. Inferiority is a feeling of inadequacy in comparison with others, or a feeling of being inferior to others. When the inferiority feelings in a person become overwhelming and persisting, it may develop into a state which Adler called “inferiority complex”. Recently thinkers started believing that inferiority can be overcome with the help of self-esteem, and effective counseling helps in gaining self-esteem. Self-esteem is closely linked with self-image, self-worth and self-concept. Self-concept and self-image are the terms which represent the picture which we have of ourselves. Self-image and self-concept may include a list of character traits, physical features, attitudes, feelings, strengths, weaknesses etc. Self-esteem refers to the evaluation which an individual makes of his worth, competence, value and significance. When a person loses self-esteem, he develops inferiority in him, which grows into an inferiority complex. Such people do not feel worth of themselves. Hence, the basic task of a counselor is to improve self-esteem in such counselees.
2. Injustice or Ill-treatment
Very often injustice or ill-treatment makes considerable impact in their minds resulting in behavioral problems, inferiority and low self-esteem. Depriving an employee of adequate wages, leave, or any perks, giving him an arrogant treatment, depriving a legitimate promotion, promoting somebody overlooking the legitimate candidate; may such incidents take place in organizations very often which may result in inferiority feeling or feeling of low self-esteem and low morale affecting the efficiency of the aggrieved employee. As far as possible such incidents must be avoided. Once such a situation arises and an employee is aggrieved, it is better to rectify it. However, if the aggrieved employee is counseled and rectification is promised at a later date, he or she can be brought back to the proper track.
3. Premarital Anxieties and Sexual Perversions
Premarital anxieties are common in many young employees. Once the marriage is arranged and the person is engaged, his anxiety increases. Two people of different family backgrounds, different cultures, different environments, etc., are bound to have anxieties before they come together. If one happens to wait unmarried after a particular age too, one’s anxiety is bound to increase. Similarly, there are possibilities for sexual perversions in not only young employees but even in married employees. There are people with broken relationships who are tempted to be subject to sexual perversions and resulting guilty conscious. In all such cases the concerned employee needs counseling before a total breakdown and collapse of personality. Such people can be spiritually motivated, educated, kept under the close contact of an influence group, and so on.
Alcoholism is, perhaps, the largest threat to the human element of organization. In fact, alcoholism is a serious social, moral and health problem. It ruins careers, disrupts families, affects productivity and efficiency, destroys bodies, and leads to untold human misery. Many traffic accidents are caused by alcohol abuse. There are many causes which lead to alcoholism. Prominent among them are: (i) Hereditary drinking; (ii) Executive culture; (iii) Executive stresses; (iv) Physiological reasons; (v) Broken family set up; (vi) Environmental influence; (vii) Low job satisfaction and morale; (viii) Tasks involving strenuous physical exertion; (ix) Perpetuating influences ; (x) Feelings of depression and stagnation; and (xi) Feeling of isolation and loneliness. A counselor’s job is not easy as far as an alcoholic is concerned. One or a few counseling sessions may not yield any considerable effect. However, a sincere effort on the part of an executive counselor may help an alcoholic employee, at least in the long-run. Some medical intervention may also be helpful along with counseling.
5. The problem of Addictions
Another important employee problem which deserves counseling is addictions. Addiction is a very dangerous problem which torments the social and work environment of today. Drug addiction has gone beyond proportions among youngsters now-a-days. Not only drug addiction, many people are addicted to alcohol, pornographic materials, television, sexual immorality, smoking, compulsive spending, overeating, gambling, and so on. There are some people who are addicted to earning money and amassing wealth by hook or by crook. There are workaholics who have addiction to work, due to which there are many broken families in the urban society. Addiction is any habit, practice, behavior or even thinking which is habitually or compulsively attached to a person, which exerts more and more control and power over him. There can be many causes for addiction; some of which are: (i) Inadequate parental care; (ii) Broken family atmosphere; (iii) Bad company; (iv) Peer or other social influence; (v) Feeling of emptiness in life; depression or stresses; (vi) Low self-esteem and deception; & (vii) Psychological problems. Both drug addiction and alcohol abuse involve behavior change, physical deterioration, family stresses, financial problems, career destruction, increasing psychological disintegration, lawlessness and so on. Addiction affects both the victim and his family. Even the psychologists and counselors may exhaust and drain themselves out by constant pressure of dealing with addicts. Hence, it is not an easy task for executives to deal with such cases. However, very tactful approach on the part of the executives and managers may make a considerable effect in helping them if they act in time. “A stitch in time saves nine”.
6. Mental Conflict in Union Rivalries
In recent times, there are many employees who lose their confidence, mental peace, job satisfaction and productivity due to union rivalries. Many right thinking and unattached employees become the victims of such rivalries. Some militant trade union leaders and their henchmen even manhandle assault and ill-treat such employees. Their legitimate promotions and claims are blocked by such trade unionists. Sometimes even management becomes helpless in doing justice to such employees due to the obstructions and resistances created by such union leaders. In such situations victims are bound to be disappointed, disgruntled and aggrieved resulting in depression and stress. Executive counselors and human resources executives have great role to play in rebuilding the personality and career through counseling and timely intervention. They can be recovered, and revitalized through counseling and timely guidance. They can then be exposed and developed through training followed by redeployment and a change in placement.
7. Breakdown in Interpersonal Relationships
Breakdown in interpersonal relationships is another important problem which creates low morale and depression in work-life which deserves timely intervention and counseling. There are many stress situations in one’s work life. Organizational causes of stress are occupational demands, role conflict, role ambiguity (stress from uncertainly), stresses from overload and under load, responsibility for others, stresses from evaluation, poor working conditions, unwanted changes, and such other factors lead to personal stresses. Interpersonal stresses make more impact in work life. Strains and breakdowns in interpersonal relationships have direct relationship with individual stresses. When cordial relationships exist in the work place, impact of other stresses may get effectively tackled. But when stresses from strained interpersonal relationship in the work environment increase, the individual’s effectiveness, balance and productivity can get affected. In all such occasions, counseling and guidance would become necessary to help the individual to control his problem emotions and sustain himself to be effective in the group.
8. Low Job Satisfaction and Morale
Another important cause which affects the human behavior in organization is low job satisfaction backed by low morale. Low job satisfaction leads to low morale and vice-versa. Morale and job satisfaction are closely tied to the basic concepts of attitudes and motivation. Wages have been found to be the basic determinant of job satisfaction. However, once the monetary needs are considerably met by the wages, other aspects like self-actualization, fulfillment, working conditions, security of employment, prestige, agreeability of the job, group cohesiveness, expertise, etc., also determine the job satisfaction. Some researchers have thrown light on the positive relationship between occupational level and job satisfaction. Job satisfaction has a considerable relation with the promotion possibility. Superior-subordinate relationship and cooperative and affectionate attitude and approach of the superior may also influence the job satisfaction level of the subordinates, though much empirical work has not been done in this area. Low job satisfaction and low morale must be tackled at the root. Immediate supervisor or superior may first come to know about the problem in his subordinate and initiate timely and sincere counseling efforts. At times, assistance of professional counselors can be sought. Every manager must make up his mind to nip in the bud all such problems which adversely affect job satisfaction and morale with the help of skillful counseling.
9. Breakdown in Family Life
Every individual, rich or poor, has to face many family problems, some of which can seriously affect the peace of mind, happiness, achievement motivation and efficiency. Those who have broken family lives and serious family problems may possibly become unsuccessful in their work life too. Very often problem which affect the family life can convert a good employee into a problem employee. Studies have already proved that some alcoholics and drug addicts are the products of broken families. In fact, breakdown in family life very often affects the work life. Hence, if such employees are provided with ways to release their tension, their efficiency can be improved. Counseling is of great importance in such cases once such employees can be brought to proper track with the help of counseling, their personality, behavior and performance can be improved with the help of exposure in training, T-group formation, etc., so that better sense of cohesion and commitment to organization can be ensured.
Solving the Problems of Employee Counseling
The problems of employee counseling can be solved in various ways. The following could be simple check list to follow – 1. Deal with dignity: An individual has to be dealt with dignity. An individual is more a victim of circumstances. This should be communicated clearly to assuage feelings of the individual. 2. Give time: Give individuals time and avoid shock impact. This gives the employee time to think of alternatives in a job loss situation. Importantly, the employee might try and improve productivity. 3. Build courage and confidence: Highlight strengths of the individual and build personal confidence level. Irrespective of personal circumstances, retaining confidence and mental balance, is critical. 4. Offer help: Offer personal and corporate help. More important than offering help is to listen patiently and offer whatever help is possible. 5. Involve family, where possible: A job affects the family and hence, where the employee is receptive, involve the family in counseling. 6. Give positive references: Give good and positive references to employees terminated to improve their chances of sourcing an alternate employment. 7. Allow use of facilities: As far as possible, allow a usage of corporate facilities, especially where there is no direct cash outflow. Typical facilities would include transport, sports, club, library, canteen etc. 8. Offer subsidy: In large companies, employees are eligible for a variety of benefits including transport, housing and furniture. Where possible, continue to offer these facilities at a subsidized price, for a short period of three to six months. 9. Communicate: Most importantly, involve the employee and listen empathetically. Keep in touch with the employee at some frequency to sustain courage to face the crisis and instill a ray of hope to come out of the crisis successfully.
Aims of Counselling
Counselling and guidance aims to:
enable citizens to manage and plan their learning and work pathways in accordance with their life goals, assist educational and training institutions to have well motivated pupils, students and trainees who take responsibility for their own learning and set their own goals for achievement assist enterprises and organisations to have well motivated, employable and adaptable staff, capable of accessing and benefiting from learning opportunities both within and outside the workplace provide policymakers with an important means to achieve a wide range of public policy goals support local, regional, and national economies through workforce development and adaptation to changing economic demands and social circumstances assist in the development of societies, in which citizens actively contribute to their social and democratic development
Importance of counselling aims within labour market: Within the labour market, guidance and counselling can: Improve the accuracy and accessibility of the information available to individuals about short- and long-term job opportunities. In turn this can improve individual decision making about jobs and about job training opportunities. achieve a better match between skills, interests and qualifications on the one hand and available job opportunities on the other help to improve the allocation of labour across regions, industries and occupations in the face of labour supply and demand fluctuations resulting from technological and structural change
Significance of Counseling
1. Decision marking construct: The psychological problems of adolescents can be seen as decision making problems.
2. Conflict: These decisions making problems almost always involve some conflict, either because of factor emotional ambiguities or both.
3. Assertions: Behavior is a result at the assumptions, beliefs, and attitudes that one his about himself, others and the world in which her lives.
4. Disconfirmations: The effects of behavior following decisions are feed back to the individual perceived and they confirm or disconfirm ascertain to varying degrees.
5. Tension: When assertions are disconfirmed, tensions result.
6. Redundancy: Tensions inhibit the ability of an individual to reexamine his assertions and attempt to confirm them and thus they cause redundant behavior.
Reception and Integration Counseling Points
Reception and integration counseling should begin immediately upon arrival so new team members can quickly become integrated into the organization. Counselor must counsel new team members when they arrive at organization. This reception and integration counseling serves two purposes:
First, it identifies and helps fix any problems or concerns that new members may have, especially any issues resulting from the new duty assignment.
Second, it lets them know the organizational standards and how they fit into the team. It clarifies job titles and sends the message that the chain of command cares.
Chain of command familiarization.
Security and safety issues.
Noncommissioned officer (NCO) support channel (who is in it and how it is used). On- and off-duty conduct.
Personnel/personal affairs/initial and special issues.
Organizational history, structure, and mission.
Human resource practices within the organization
Off limits and danger areas.
Functions and locations of support activities.
On- and off-post recreational, educational, cultural, and historical opportunities. Environmental orientations both internal and external.
Other areas the individual should be aware of as determined by the counselor.
Approaches/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. There are three types/approaches to counseling which are given as follows –
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.
Advantages and disadvantages of Directive counseling
Exhibit 1: Advantages and disadvantages of Directive counseling Advantages:
Good for people who need clear, concise direction.
Allows counselors to actively use their experience.
Doesn’t encourage subordinates to be part of the solution.
Tends to treat symptoms, not problems.
Tends to discourage subordinates from talking freely.
Solution is the counselor’s, not the subordinate’s.
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.
Advantages and disadvantages of Non-directive counseling
Exhibit 2: Advantages and disadvantages of Non-directive counseling Advantages:
Encourages open communication.
Develops personal responsibility.
Requires greatest counselor skill.
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 counselor-centered nor wholly counselee-centered. Counselor and counselee mutually apply their different knowledge, perceptions, skills, perspectives and values to problem into the problems and find solutions.
Advantages and disadvantages of participative counseling
Exhibit 3: Advantages and disadvantages of participative counseling Advantages:
Encourages open communication.
Allows counselors to actively use their experience.
May take too much time for some situations.
Methods of Employee Counseling
Effectiveness of counseling 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: 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 counseling methods, choice of which differs from person to person, situation to situation, and from case to case.
The Counseling Process
Effective counselors use the four stages of counseling process which are given as follows – A. Identify the need for counseling.
B. Prepare for counseling.
C. Conduct counseling.
D. Follow up.
A. Identify the Need for Counseling
Quite often organizational policies, such as counseling associated with an evaluation or counseling required by the command, focus a counseling session. However, one may conduct developmental counseling whenever the need arises for focused, two-way communication aimed at subordinate development. Developing subordinates consists of observing the subordinate’s performance, comparing it to the standard, and then providing feedback to the subordinate in the form of counseling.
B. Prepare For Counseling
Successful counseling requires preparation. To prepare for counseling, do the following: 1. Select a suitable place.
2. Schedule the time.
3. Notify the subordinate well in advance.
4. Organize information.
5. Outline the counseling session components.
6. Plan your counseling strategy.
7. Establish the right atmosphere.
1. Select a Suitable Place: Schedule counseling in an environment that minimizes interruptions and is free from distracting sights and sounds.
2. Schedule the Time: When possible, counsel a subordinate during the duty day. Counseling after duty hours may be rushed or perceived as unfavorable. The length of time required for counseling depends on the complexity of the issue. Generally a counseling session should last less than an hour. If one need more time, schedule a second session. Additionally, select a time free from competition with other activities and consider what has been planned after the counseling session. Important events can distract a subordinate from concentrating on the counseling.
3. Notify the Subordinate Well in Advance: For a counseling session to be a subordinate-centered, two-person effort, the subordinate must have time to prepare for it. The subordinate should know why, where, and when the counseling will take place. Counseling following a specific event should happen as close to the event as possible. However, for performance or professional development counseling, subordinates may need a week or more to prepare or review specific products, such as support forms or counseling records.
4. Organize Information: Solid preparation is essential to effective counseling. Review all pertinent information. This includes the purpose of the counseling, facts and observations about the subordinate, identification of possible problems, main points of discussion, and the development of a plan of action. Focus on specific and objective behaviors that the subordinate must maintain or improve as well as a plan of action with clear, obtainable goals.
5. Outline the Components of the Counseling Session: Using the information obtained, determine what to discuss during the counseling session. Note what prompted the counseling, what one aims to achieve, and what one’s role as a counselor is. Identifying possible comments or questions to help counselor to keep the counseling session subordinate-centered and to help the subordinate progress through its stages. Although counselor never knows what a subordinate will say or do during counseling, a written outline helps organize the session and enhances the chance of positive results.
6. Plan Counseling Strategy: As many approaches to counseling exist as there are leaders. The directive, nondirective, and combined approaches to counseling were addressed earlier. Use a strategy that suits your subordinates and the situation.
7. Establish the Right Atmosphere: The right atmosphere promotes two-way communication between a counselor and subordinate. To establish a relaxed atmosphere, you may offer the subordinate a seat or a cup of coffee. Counselor may want to sit in a chair facing the subordinate since a desk can act as a barrier.
Some situations make an informal atmosphere inappropriate. For example, during counseling to correct substandard performance, as a counselor you may direct the subordinate to remain standing while you remain seated behind a desk. This formal atmosphere, normally used to give specific guidance, reinforces the leader’s rank, position in the chain of command, and authority.
C. Conduct the Counseling Session
Be flexible when conducting a counseling session. Often counseling for a specific incident occurs spontaneously as counselors encounter subordinates in their daily activities. Such counseling can occur in any suitable places wherever subordinates feel ease. Good counselors take advantage of naturally occurring events to provide subordinates with feedback. Even when counselor haven’t prepared for formal counseling, s/he should address the four basic components of a counseling session. The purpose is to guide effective counseling rather than mandate a series of rigid steps. Counseling sessions consist of:
1. Opening the session.
2. Discussing the issues.
3. Developing the plan of action.
4. Recording and closing the session.
Ideally, a counseling session results in a subordinate’s commitment to a plan of action. Assessment of the plan of action (discussed below) becomes the starting point for follow-up counseling. 1. Open the Session: In the session opening, state the purpose of the session and establish a subordinate centered setting. Establish the preferred setting early in the session by inviting the subordinate to speak. The best way to open a counseling session is to clearly state its purpose. For example, an appropriate purpose statement might be: “The purpose of this counseling is to discuss your duty performance over the past month and to create a plan to enhance performance and attain performance goals.” If applicable, start the counseling session by reviewing the status of the previous plan of action.
2. Discussing the issues: The counselor and the subordinate should attempt to develop a mutual understanding of the issues. Counselor can best develop this by letting the subordinate do most of the talking. Use active listening; respond, and question without dominating the conversation. Aim to help the subordinate better understand the subject of the counseling, for example, duty performance, a problem situation and its impact, or potential areas for growth. Both counselor and subordinate should provide examples or cite specific observations to reduce the perception that either is unnecessarily biased or judgmental. However, when the issue is substandard performance, counselor should make clear how the performance didn’t meet the standard. The conversation, which should be two-way, then addresses what the subordinate needs to do to meet the standard. It’s important that he defines the issue as substandard performance and don’t allow the subordinate to define the issue as an unreasonable standard-unless he considers the standard negotiable or are willing to alter the conditions under which the subordinate must meet the standard.
3. Develop a Plan of Action: A plan of action identifies a method for achieving a desired result. It specifies what the subordinate must do to reach the goals set during the counseling session. The plan of action must be specific: it should show the subordinate how to modify or maintain his behavior. It should avoid vague intentions such as “Next month I want you to improve your production skills.” The plan must use concrete and direct terms. A specific and achievable plan of action sets the stage for successful development.
4. Record and Close the Session: Although requirements to record counseling sessions vary, a counselor always benefits by documenting the main points of a counseling session. Documentation serves as a reference to the agreed upon plan of action and the subordinate’s accomplishments, improvements, personal preferences, or problems. A complete record of counseling aids in making recommendations for professional development, schools, promotions, and evaluation reports.
To close the session, summarize its key points and ask if the subordinate understands the plan of action. Invite the subordinate to review the plan of action and what’s expected by counselor. With the subordinate, establish any follow-up measures necessary to support the successful implementation of the plan of action. These may include providing the subordinate with resources and time, periodically assessing the plan, and following through on referrals. Schedule any future meetings, at least tentatively, before dismissing the subordinate.
D. Follow Up
Counselor’s Responsibilities: The counseling process doesn’t end with the counseling session. It continues through implementation of the plan of action and evaluation of results. After counseling, counselor must support subordinates as they implement their plans of action. Support may include teaching, coaching, or providing time and resources. Counselor must observe and assess this process and possibly modify the plan to meet its goals. Appropriate measures after counseling include follow-up counseling, making referrals, informing the chain of command, and taking corrective measures.
Assess the Plan of Action: The purpose of counseling is to develop subordinates who are better able to achieve personal, professional, and organizational goals. During the assessment, review the plan of action with the subordinate to determine if the desired results were achieved. The counselor and the subordinate should determine the date for this assessment during the initial counseling session. The assessment of the plan of action provides useful information for future follow-up counseling sessions.
The ability to counsel is an important skill for managers and caring co-workers. Organizations that have people trained in counseling will be better able to handle their people issues than those that do not. Staffs who are feeling anxious, stressed, or unhappy will not be able to perform very well on the job despite their background and experience. If they have had an opportunity to talk through their problems with a trained counselor, they will be able to be much more productive. This will save the organization time and money.
1. Blum, M. L., and Balinsky, B. Counseling and psychology. Egnlewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1954. 2. Bordin, E. S. Psychological counseling. New York: Appleton, 1955. 3. Maier, N. R. R. Principle of human relations. New York: Wiley, 1952. Ch. 12 & 13. 4. Counseling-techniques-in-an-organization, Available at: