COUNSELING is defined as discussion of an emotional problem with an employee, with the general objective of decreasing it. Therefore, Counseling:
- Deals with an emotional problem.
- Is an act of communication.
- Is generally to understand and/or decrease an employee’s emotional disorder.
- Can be done by both, the managers and the professionally trained counselors.
It is generally observed that nine out of every ten people suffer from a mental or emotional disorder. We recognize them as people who are high-strung, over sensitive, and angry with the world. Others include alcoholics and the drug addicts. Many others still have temporary upsets due to certain events.
Counseling is warranted when one notices an inability to cope with the environment. This inability manifests in behaviour disorder which in turn does lead to harm to self, the organization and others working therein. Feelings can not be ignored. They are facts and more so to the individual concerned. Managers desire the employees to maintain a reasonable emotional equilibrium and to chanelize the emotions to constructive activities.
Any condition, on or off the job, may need counseling. These conditions can be from:
- Job dissatisfaction,
- Resistance to change, or,
- Alienation, Disorientation etc.
Other major conditions that must be clearly understood are:
- Conflicts, or,
Frustration occurs when the motivation is blocked preventing one from reaching the desired goal. Frustration can be short term-event related or long term-aspiration related. The longer the frustration, greater the problem. Frustration usually is reacted to in any of the following ways.
- Physical disorders, or,
- Substituted goals.
Counseling can help reduce frustration, by helping the employees to choose a mature course of action to remove blockages preventing goal accomplishment, or by helping them to reconcile with the reality. Counselors will have to work with both, the employee and the Management.
Conflicts: Both the interpersonal and inter-group conflicts may cause emotional disorders. When people of different backgrounds, points of view, values, needs and personalities interact a variety of conflicts may arise.
Conflicts are not always bad. We must, while handling conflicts, try to reduce the disadvantages and to increase the benefits. Conflicts stimulate people to look for better approaches for improved results. Often, hidden problems surface and a deeper understanding may develop.
On the other hand, cooperation and teamwork may suffer, distrust may grow, and the loser may attempt continuance of the conflicts to settle the score. The organization’s basic goal is to move the conflicts into a win-win possibility, so that no one feels lost and in fact all feel having won.
Counseling assists conflict resolution by reducing emotional blockages.
Other effective approaches are Organization Development, Supportive Leadership styles, sensitivity training, and job and organization design.
Stress: It is condition of strain on one’s emotions, thought process and/or physical condition that seems to threaten one’s ability to cope with the environment.
What counseling can do: General objective is to assist the employees in dealing with their emotional problems, so that they grow in self-confidence, understanding, self-control & the ability to work in the given organizational environment.
Counseling objectives are achieved through performing one of the following counseling functions:
- Release of emotional tensions,
- Clarified thinking, and,
Types of Counseling:
Directive, Non-directive, and Cooperative.
Who should do the counseling?
Supervisors/Managers or (Superiors in hierarchy), Specialists, and Professional counselors.
Cautions in Counseling:
The counselor’s approach depends upon his own assessment of the situation, and the personality of the counselee.
A counselor may:
- Identify himself with the counselee and help him decide, motivate him to do what is jointly decided, OR,
- Do the most of the above but help him make up his mind to act as he thinks fit.
BUT, in any case, in the counseling relationship, the following conditions are essential:
- Counselee should psychologically accept the counselor.
- Counselor must be able to listen well and communicate effectively.
- An atmosphere of trust and confidence.
- Credibility & Sensitivity of the counselor.
This in nutshell is what counseling is about. It is upto us how, we can use these skills as a strategy in Work Places.
In the strictest sense of the term, counseling to be considered as a strategy may meet raised eyebrows! But, applied innovatively, conducting inter-personal relations with a counseling approach will have a positive effect on blocked or inadequate performance by the employee. It will also help generate a climate of comprehension of reality, acceptance of mutual roles alongwith their relationships and interdependence. It can and does achieve an organizational need of ensuring uniformly high, accurate and enthusiastic performance levels, by building and strengthening the superior-subordinate relationships as also help create an atmosphere conducive of stable, positive relationships and strong work culture.
An emotional problem, like any other problem, disturbs the mental equilibrium of a person, making him disgruntled, and producing an affected behaviour on and off work.
Let us now consider the process of Inter-personal Relations. For the sake of simplicity, we define this process as “Work related Inter-personal relationship exercises within an organization necessary to achieve coordinated, high level, collective performance, to achieve organizational goals”.
We know that the Behaviour is a function of Personality and Environment.
Affected Behaviour (in this case, misdirected efforts, shoddy, below par performance, a kind of carelessness that is unmindful of consequences to self and to the organization) and indicates a need for assistance. Mostly assistance can be offered in the area of the environmental factors (like training, nature of assignment etc.) and not in the Personality factors (like advice, healthy discussions, counseling etc.), even though attributes of the Personality are amenable to such treatment.
Behaviour can be considered as an individual or collective phenomenon. A sum total of the outcomes of the relationship transactions at individual levels help us predict the shape of collective performance at the organizational level.
Problems of grow out of many roots. Every affected behaviour whether on or off the job, has the potential to influence the Collective Performance of the organization.
Commonalty of objectives so very essential to the growth and success of the organization is virtually lost sight of and attempts are made to pursue limited (individual) goals at the cost of the larger (organizational) goals.
Role gets precedence over the Goal.
Parties usually end up in a situation that despite knowing that there is no alternative to working together, they are forced to accept a state of strained relationships, tensions, suspicions and many such undesirable ingredients in the situation that continue to affect individual and collective performance..
It does not require any special expertise to realize that this state of affairs is obtained invariably where the process of managing people is defective.
We all know many approaches to managing people. At one extreme is to equate people with the machines and on the other extreme is accept that in any matter people alone will justify management action. All extremes are bad. But we do seem to be going to extremes when the conventional methods or the methods that we believe in do not produce the desired results. We must accept the fundamental truth of the matter that people need to be managed. One can not manage anything without understanding it. So we must understand the people!
People represent the only animate resource-capable of feelings, thinking and acting independently sometimes even at variance with the organizational objectives.
We as managers of men do not have an absolute control over human behaviour to be able to influence, modify or predict behaviour either by itself or in the industrial-technological system. When it comes to human behaviour, we always find a state of flux and that is what makes our job more and more difficult. The one significant factor that we should learn more and more about is the phenomenon of change and the way it tends to influences human behaviour.
The profile of an average employee over the years has undergone great changes. The basic tenets of behaviour that were valid yesterday are generally invalid to day. Let us take a closer look at some of the significant points of the profile and the changes they have undergone.
These are as follows:
This is an effort to understand the difference between the people belonging to the two different generations. Understanding these will give us better insights into the psyche of the people we are dealing with.
In the ultimate analysis, we have various approaches in which to deal with people in typical Industrial situations. To sum up, these are:
- Benevolent, and,
- Human Resource Development.
Whatever the choice, the understanding of people will always give us an advantage to influence the situation in favour of the desired goals.