Bringing up problems is part of supervisory work

Always hold an early support discussion with the employee if you are worried about their work ability. Discuss how you can help them. Create a follow-up plan. Your occupational health services will provide help when needed.

Observe changes in behaviour

As a supervisor, you can often see tacit signals early on. They are small signs that precede actual symptoms or problems. Changes begin to show significantly earlier than they turn into actual problems or symptoms.

Tacit signals include: 

  • problems focussing, negligence 
  • problems with interaction  
  • trouble learning  
  • problems with memory or understanding  
  • prolonged workdays, frequent overtime  
  • discrepancies in working hours, such as continuous lateness  
  • neglecting work: responsibilities, timetables, qualitative or quantitative discrepancies in work performance  
  • dishevelled appearance  
  • weakened work motivation.   

Bringing up issues is initiating discussions. Initiate a discussion if you are worried about your employee or if your workplace’s shared reaction criteria are met.

You may become concerned about your employee when 

  • you notice that your employee’s behaviour or appearance changes clearly. For example, they have begun to isolate themselves or cry or become hostile or indifferent 
  • you observe that an employee’s motivation, work performance or ability to learn have been impaired
  • you suspect your employee is using intoxicants
  • you notice that your employee’s absences from work increase or tend to accumulate in connection with weekends or holidays 
  • you notice conflicts in your work community 
  • you notice conflicts in your work community 

What to discuss and how?

Address the issue as soon as possible, or in other words, talk to your employee. Follow these steps:

  • Plan when you will tell your employee about the discussion. You should time the discussion to take place in the middle of the work week so that there is not several days or a weekend between agreeing on and holding the discussion.
  • Try to arrange a one-on-one discussion in a quiet environment where you can talk about things in privacy and freely without being disturbed.

Showing an interest in your employee and their work is key to the conversation. What matters most is listening to them.

  • Consider beforehand what concrete observations and concerns you want to talk about.  
  • Agree on the discussion with your employee. Tell the employee what you want to talk about.  
  • Reserve a quiet space. Always hold the discussion in private.
  • When the discussion starts, remind your employee what you wish to talk about.  
  • Tell them that your goal is to get things to run smoothly and to find solutions to the situation.   
  • Give concrete examples of what you have noticed or what has happened. Describe the change that has occurred and express your concern about the situation. Speak in the first person.
  • Ask the employee what their view is on the situation and listen to them. Ask for more details by presenting open-ended questions.
  • Tell them about different solutions and encourage the employee to suggest possible solutions. State that the goal is to get things to go smoothly in future.