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Counseling Skills in Business

When considering how a field like counseling or psychology may be relevant in business, one thing that comes to mind is the idea of change.  In the fast pace environment that most companies exist in, change is one constant that we can count on.  Whether this means a merger, a management shift, an organizational restructuring or simply a new hire, the business’s challenge is how to adjust to these shifts regularly.  Those in a supervisory role are tasked with how they can improve management skills to impact employee performance.  The following is an example of a management skill that supervisors can utilize to impact change.

An orientation in counseling that also works as a people management skill, is an approach called Motivational Interviewing (MI). MI is defined as “A collaborative conversation to strengthen a person’s own motivation for and commitment to change”.  This approach focuses on ambivalence towards change and works with an individual to increase motivation for change.  When discussing the ambivalence towards a change, one strategy to consider within MI, is called “OARS” (Open Ended Questions, Affirmation, Reflections and Summary).  The communication style of “OARS” is only a small part of MI.  However, when working with employees, managers and executives, “OARS” can be utilized to help understand why/how a change is taking place and what obstacles stand in the way.  The idea behind “OARS” is that the person using this strategy is asking open ending questions, affirming what the other has to say, reflecting on their statements and summarizing what they are saying in order to build clarity.

For example, a manager is trying to decide the most effective way to approach an employee and address performance issues.  The communication style of “OARS” utilized in MI may be particularly helpful when looking at what kinds of changes this employee needs to make in order to get the expected results.  A challenge many managers face is how to elicit a change without making the employee resentful or offended.  If a manager is particularly savvy, they will understand the value of inspiring an employee to make a change, rather than coercing. MI can help make the process of inspiring change more effective, through reducing an employee’s ambivalence and address the advantages of making this change.  MI has been effective in helping people address a change they are uncertain of, as well as address how to go about making it.  For more information on MI, please see- www.motivationalinterviewing.org

Thank you!

Michael

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