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The common denominator in our efforts.

"Wanted: seasoned professional to manage workers whose performance does not meet expectations. Must have experience in early identification of job performance problems and skills in constructive confrontation. Preference given to candidates who are familiar with last-chance agreements, improvement plans, and related initiatives to correct poor performance and develop employees toward maximum productivity."

Human resources professionals and corporate executives seldom list the skills detailed in the preceding paragraph in their employment ads of job requirements, though it's not because work organizations don't need managers with these skills. Poor performance is as endemic to the workplace as uncomfortable chairs, tight budgets, and juicy gossip, but managers skilled at performance improvement are too few and too far between. Managers tend to be hired and promoted based on seniority or their knowledge related to certain projects or functions, not on their skills in performance management.

To a certain extent, this speaks to the success of EA services. With assistance and guidance from an EA professional, a manager with a problem worker can help that individual resolve any physical, behavioral, emotional, or personal issue(s) affecting his or her performance. In so doing, the manager can also improve the productivity of his or her entire workgroup, since one person's performance issues often affect others as well.

The key to the successful resolution of performance problems is a strong link between EA professionals and front-line managers. The sooner EA professionals and managers identify potential performance problems, the sooner they can take steps to effectively address them.

For example, if an employee performs poorly from the beginning, s/he was probably a bad hire or didn't receive the needed training, equipment, or support to do the job. This requires a different intervention than for those employees who were once effective performers, but whose performance has changed. In either case, it is all too often that supervisors let performance problems fester for months of even years, poisoning the work environment and making resolution difficult.

This issue of the Journal focuses on the special challenges of managing poor performers and discusses steps EA professionals can take to assist managers and human resources professionals as they struggle to work with these individuals. Most EA practitioners know that poor performers--specifically, individuals impaired by alcohol abuse--provided the impetus for early EAPs, so it's only fitting that we revisit this topic to underscore the fact that performance management remains the common denominator in our efforts to assist employers and employees.

This issue of the Journal also looks at several other challenges facing the workplace, including easing returning military and civilian personnel back into their jobs and family lives, identifying and addressing ergonomics problems that can affect workers' productivity and health, and assisting workers who have become victims of identity theft. I commend two particular articles to you--one on promoting workforce resiliency, which I urge you to share with your colleagues in human resources, and another on challenges facing the workplace today and in the years ahead. Both are well worth a close read.

Finally, I'd like to welcome two EAPA members, Eduardo Lambardi and Terri Schmidt, to the Communications Advisory Subcommittee. Eduardo lives and works in Argentina and brings a non-U.S. perspective to the Journal, while Terri is an independent EA practitioner who can shed light on the solo practice perspective. Welcome aboard, Eduardo and Terri!

EAPA Communications

Advisory Subcommittee

Maria Hartley, Chair

Columbia, S.C.

(803) 376-2668

Mark Attridge

Minneapolis, Minn.

(763) 797-2719

Tamara Cagney

Pleasanton, Calif.

(510) 513-4710

Eduardo Lambardi

Buenos Aires, Argentina


John Maynard

EAPA Headquarters

(703) 387-1000

James M. Oher

Chappaqua, N.Y.

(914) 238-0607

Bruce Prevatt

Tallahassee, Fla.

(904) 644-2288

Terri N. Schmidt

Park Ridge, Ill.

(847) 692-9462
COPYRIGHT 2004 Employee Assistance Professionals
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Copyright 2004, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
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Title Annotation:Front Desk
Author:Hartley, Maria
Publication:The Journal of Employee Assistance
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 1, 2004
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