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Purpose and Objectives
Equipment and Materials
Policy Components
Supervisor's Role and Responsibilities
Crisis Situations
current selection is Problem Recognition
On-the-Job Indicators
Intervention and Referral
Confidentiality
Continuing Supervision
Supervisory Traps
Presentation Materials

Office of the Assistant Secretary for Policy
Drug-Free Workplace Advisor
Supervisor Training

Recognizing Problems on the Job

Crisis situations involving suspected recent use of alcohol or other drugs do happen, but it is much more common for the supervisor to encounter job performance problems that are ongoing. Most of your employees are NOT going to have workplace problems that require special assistance from you beyond normal training, guidance and review. However, you should realize that ongoing performance problems that have not responded to normal supervisory intervention might require more intensive action.

Many indicators of poor performance also may be signs of medical or mental health problems. The existence of these indicators alone is not adequate to determine the presence or absence of any condition. The supervisor should never diagnose, accuse or treat such problems. The indicators simply provide the supervisor a basis for making a referral to a professional who can help the employee, such as an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) professional.

When you see a performance problem, do not try to diagnose your worker's problem. Limit your observations and evaluation to declining job performance. In addition, don't disregard the "small things" about a worker's performance. If the employee is unable to correct those "small things", then he or she may indeed have a larger problem. The problem will grow over time and make the supervisor's job more difficult.