Somebody looks rough when it is time to be on watch. He or she perhaps smells of alcohol sometimes, has a hangover or seems to be drunk. This is the time for you, as an officer or HR manager ashore, to have a talk with the person. Charlotte Almgren at Alna, an organisation that works with occupational alcohol issues, gives the following advice.
• Do not think of it as a “difficult” talk, but rather a “necessary” talk. It is your responsibility as manager to promote safety and efficiency at work and to talk with employees who, you believe, are not working well in their occupational role, irrespective of the reasons.
• Consider why you are having the talk and what your role is. Are you doing this as a manager, a fellow human being or a friend? A good talk requires that you are secure and certain in your role and with your standpoints.
• Let the discussion be built on your perception of the person rather than the employee’s problems. Say that you notice something is wrong and, if possible, give some concrete examples of situations when you have felt this. Base your talk on facts. If you start by saying you believe the employee has problems, the response will be many counter-arguments and explanations and the talk will take a completely different direction from what you had planned. Your perceptions and your feelings cannot be denied, on the other hand.
• Avoid talking about alcoholism or abuse. The objective of the discussion is not to force the employee into admitting that he or she has an addiction (it usually takes six months of treatment before anyone can admit this fact). But if you have noticed that an employee appears drunk on any occasion, or perhaps smells of alcohol, you should take up the issue.