Counselling as a method to understand your employees


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Learning resource on Employee Counsellng
produced by Humantalents Interantional

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Counselling as a method to understand your employees

  1. 1. Counselling As A Method To Understand Your Employees By Jayadeva de Silva.M.Sc, MBIM, FIPM, FITD The most important attribute of human beings is their intelligence. This can be defined as our ability to make fresh, appropriate responses to each new situation. It may be impossible to prove that every one like this. However, one of the best sources of information about our nature is our small children. They usually show these qualities to a remarkable degree-highly intelligent, loveable and powerful in getting what they want. When we work closely with more and more adults we find that this is our inherent nature. People respond best and learn most when they know have the highest expectations of them, and yet clearly, people do not behave like this all the time. Some behave like this more than other people. When we think about people around us at work places or elsewhere, we see that most of the time we function amazingly well. At other times we do not. It may be something like fatigue or some bad news that gets in the way or something occurs that triggers a response out of proportion to the actual event. When this happens the difficulty is something more fundamental, which the Behavioural Scientists refer to as ‘distress pattern’. This is a habitual way of reacting in certain situations, which is not a fresh accurate response but a rigid, patterned way of reacting. Some thing happens which reminds us of a past hurt. Our attention goes inwards and we reacting intelligently. This reaction may have been appropriate long ago when the original hurt occurred, but now completely inappropriate. Or we may react this way because of unhelpful messages given to us by our parents when we were small. These patterns are sometimes major difficulties in highly successful and able adults. 1
  2. 2. For example little boy who was told, “you will never make a success of anything” might become the man who tries to be successful at all costs. Patterns like these are often really important development issues confronting people in Organisations. These are usually more significant than deficiencies in knowledge or skill. We should be able to think about how this applies to our own selves and to people we know. What can we do about these difficulties? Ones again we can learn a lot from our small children. When they are hurt emotionally, they cry or express their anger. Afterwards they feel fine again. A lot of this can be quite hard on the parents, but it works well for the children. It is a natural healing process which the behavioural scientists call “discharge” Unfortunately we are taught not to do this e.g. Men don’t cry etc. Thus a natural healing process has been blocked. Of course it would not be appropriate to give immediate vent to our feelings in most situations. We have to learn function well despite how we feel. However, we have to recover this natural healing process. It is much healthier than repressing our feelings, taking them out on some one else or resorting to alcohol. Furthermore feelings can impair our judgement in ways that are highly detrimental. Then, counselling can be offered as a far better solution. When we are distressed, what we need is a good listening to. We need to “discharge” i.e. talk about in an appropriate way & express how we feel. We can then re-evaluate the experience and think and act intelligently again. Our patterns prevent us functioning well. They stop us from getting our work and the rest of our lives the way we want it to be. Patters need to be contradicted. For example man, who was told as a little boy that he would never make a success of anything, needs to contradict the message and accept that as a mature man “I can make a success of anything “. This is a simple process and does not require expert skills through it will require some training. This is not theory. 2
  3. 3. It is simply a basic human process, which help us to live and work well. Now let us consider the implications of the above for the management and development of human resources. • At the very least we can use this as background information to help understand why talented people sometimes behave less than intelligently. It may help us to respond more appropriately when they do this. (What is the difficulty? What would help? ) • It explains why listening is often the most valuable thing we can do. • We find this is very useful to distinguish people and “patterns”. It becomes much easier to like someone when we realise that they are fine and it is only the “pattern” which is thoroughly obnoxious. When realise it is a “pattern” it is easier to stay rational. • It gives us an extremely valuable developmental tool and provides us with a way of working with people We work in Organisations where the culture does not usually make it easy to be open about our difficulties. Frankly there is usually a lot of pretence. In this environment we have to approach the introduction of counselling as a key leadership development tool with a good deal of sensitively. It requires judgement to decide whether and when to introduce counselling to an individual or group of people. The key factor seems to be safety. When there is enough trust and safety people may be ready to use counselling. Author can be contacted in SriLanka Tel 077 7272295 E mail 3
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