In attempting to help an employee who has a problem, a variety of counseling approaches/ techniques are used. All of these counseling approaches, however, depend on active listening. Sometimes the mere furnishing of information or advice may be the solution to what at first appeared to be a problem. More frequently, however, the problem cannot be solved easily because of frustrations or conflicts that are accompanied by strong feelings such as fear, confusion, or hostility.
A manager, therefore, needs to learn to use whatever approach appears to be suitable at the time. Flexibility is a key component of the employee counseling process.
Directive Counselling centers on the counselor. It is the process of listening to an employee’s problem, deciding with the employee what should be done and telling and motivating the employee to do it. This type of counseling mostly does the function of advice, reassurance and communication. It may also perform other functions of counseling. But directive counselling seldom succeeds, as people do not wish to take up advice normally, no matter how good it might be.
Non-directive Counseling is where; the employee is permitted to have maximum freedom in determining the course of the interview. It is the process of skillfully listening and encouraging a counselee to explain troublesome problems, understand them and determine appropriate solutions. Fundamentally, the approach is to listen, with understanding and without criticism or appraisal, to the problem as it is described by the employee. The employee is encouraged, through the manager’s attitude and reaction to what is said or not said, to express feelings without fear of shame, embarrassment, or reprisal.
The free expression that is encouraged in the non-directive approach tends to reduce tensions and frustrations. The employee who has had an opportunity to release pent-up feelings is usually in a better position to view the problem more objectively and with a problem-solving attitude. Non-directive counseling works best for more complicated performance issues such as personal conflicts, communication difficulties or changes in behavior caused by problems outside work. The unique advantage of this type of counselling is its ability to cause the employees reorientation. The main stress is to ‘change’ the person instead of dealing with his immediate problem only.
Cooperative/ participative Counselling is the process in which both the counselor and client mutually cooperate to solve the problems of the client. It is neither wholly client centered nor wholly counselor centered but it is centers both counselor and client equally. It is defined as mutual discussion of an employee’s emotional problem to set up conditions and plans of actions that will remedy it. This is because the Counselor and counselee mutually apply their different knowledge, perceptions, skills, perspectives and values to problem into the problems and find solutions. This form of counselling appears to be more suitable to managerial attitude and temperament in our country.
Among the three from of counselling, the advice offered in directive counseling considers the surface crises; the nondirective counselling goes to the underlying cause, the real crisis that leads the employee to understand his problem. It is thus suggested that nondirective to counselling is, probably, the best among the three forms.