Rob has an MBA in management, a BS in marketing, and is a doctoral candidate in organizational theory and design.
Tony has a very big problem. You see, he has an employee that he thinks needs some counseling. He is not sure how to address the problem or even how to approach the employee. There is no one in the organization that can give Tony any guidance in dealing with the situation. So, in many ways, he feels like he's stuck.
Let's try to help Tony understand counseling and employee intervention. As we help Tony, he will begin to understand some of the counseling methods and some of the actions he can take to help him with his problem. Along the way, we might learn something as well.
What many people do not know is there are different categories of intervention. There is not just one main rule that everybody follows when it comes to intervening with employees. While some HR departments might have a formal structure for how to intervene or counsel employees, Tony's problem is he needs to understand how to take that first step and what his options are for counseling the employee.
There are two types of intervention: One is called authoritative, and one is called facilitative. When we talk about authoritative as it relates to intervention, it means that the individual who is helping the other person is doing so by giving them information. They are, in effect, challenging the person or even suggesting what the person should do.
On the other hand, facilitative focuses on the aspects of having the person who is trying to help, try to draw out ideas from the employee. These ideas help boost self-confidence and may deliver actual solutions that really help the other person to reach his or her own solution to the problem.
Obviously, it's more helpful if the employee who needs intervention reaches his own solution to the problem and gets on the right path on his own. However, that cannot always happen, and sometimes authoritative intervention must be used.
Authoritative has three main aspects - prescriptive, informative, and confronting. Prescriptive intervention is when you directly give the person advice and direction, informative is when you provide information to instruct and guide the other person, and finally, confronting is when you challenge the other person's behavior directly. This is not to say that you have to be aggressive when you do so, just that you are confronting them in a very direct and forward manner.
Facilitative intervention has three aspects as well. Those aspects are cathartic, catalytic, and supportive. When we use cathartic, we are helping the person to express emotions and overcome thoughts that they may not be aware they had. When we talk about catalytic, we're talking about helping the person to look back on their life or on their problem, analyze it, and see through a self-directed path that they can come up with their own problem-solving ideas. Finally, we have supportive, where we build up the confidence of the other person by focusing on the good qualities they possess.
To summarize what we just discussed, authoritative intervention means someone is taking charge and directing an individual, while facilitative intervention means someone is lending an individual a helping hand. When it comes to intervention, an individual can use either authoritative or facilitative as a main approach and use any or all of the aspects associated with that method to help the person.
Analyzing Tony's Problem
Now let's get back to Tony. His problem is that one of his employees has been suspected of some unethical conduct. Tony wants to address the situation in a professional manner and allow the employee to rectify the situation.
So, as we just talked about, Tony has two different options: If he uses the authoritative approach, he is going to directly tell the employee what the problems are and tell the employee how he expects the situation to be fixed. He may, as we discussed earlier, confront the employee with the issue while also giving him direct advice and direct guidance.
His other option is facilitative intervention, where he will talk to the employee and try to have him realize his shortcomings. In effect, the employee will solve his own problems.
So, now you're asking yourself, how does Tony know which method to use? That is a very difficult question to answer. You see, it all depends on his company, his company's culture, the situation, and the employee involved. There is no magic formula, as much as Tony would like to have one. There is a certain degree of intuition and understanding required on his part.
Knowing that he has authoritative or facilitative aspects at his disposal will help Tony a great deal, but while he is in the situation, he does need to pay attention to the culture of the organization, the personality of the person, and the situation at hand. Either way, Tony can use authoritative, and he can choose between its three main aspects, prescriptive, informative, and confronting, or he can choose facilitative and its aspects of cathartic, catalytic, and supportive. Remember, Tony can mix and match all these aspects as the intervention happens.
You should have the ability to do the following after this lesson:
- Describe two different intervention types: authoritative and facilitative
- Explain the three main aspects of authoritative intervention
- Summarize the three main aspects of facilitative intervention
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