Professional Faculty Performance Management and Corrective Discipline

Performance management is a collaborative, ongoing communication process between the supervisor and the employee that provides opportunities for planning work, developing job skills and knowledge, and assessing performance. The university encourages open communication that identifies strengths and accomplishments as well as opportunities for improvement. Where necessary, the performance management process also includes corrective discipline.

University policy 05-100 (Termination Not-for-Cause Professional Faculty Appointment) and 05-101, (Corrective Discipline and Termination for Cause of Professional Faculty Member’s Appointment) establishes how and in what circumstances professional faculty members may be disciplined or their appointment terminated. The guidance information provided here is intended to assist supervisors and employees in understanding their roles and responsibilities in facilitating the performance management process, inclusive of corrective discipline. In the event of an inconsistency or a conflict, university policies 05-100 and 05-101 will supersede this guidance.

At the time of hire and on a continuing basis, the supervisor is responsible for the following performance management tasks:

  • Establishing and communicating the strategic goals and operational direction of the department.
  • Reviewing the job description or portfolio of responsibilities and revising as appropriate.
  • Developing performance indicators, outcomes, or expectations.
  • Setting goals collaboratively, including those that support professional development.
  • Providing regular coaching and feedback.
  • Providing reasonable support and resources for the employee to accomplish job duties and goals.
  • Providing an opportunity for self-assessment, a written performance evaluation, and a face-to-face performance conversation.
  • Recording these actions in a performance evaluation at least annually.

The employee is responsible for engaging in the collaborative, ongoing communication process with the supervisor, and participating in the evaluation process described in this document.

Performance Evaluations

The performance evaluation process includes a review of the employee’s accomplishments during the assessment period, assessment of results and performance, suggestions for improvement, goals, and objectives for the next assessment period, and professional development goals and accomplishments.

University policy requires performance evaluations to be completed at least annually. The timing of the performance evaluation cycle may vary from unit to unit, based on operational needs. Leadership in each department or division has the authority and responsibility to determine and communicate the timeline, as well as to establish deadlines to allow for timely completion of the evaluations within that unit.

The employee receiving the evaluation is responsible for:

  • Setting annual work and professional development goals in collaboration with their supervisor, manager, or department head.
  • Identifying any obstacles to achieving performance goals and communicating those obstacles to the supervisor.
  • Providing a written self-assessment that summarizes progress towards goals and results (optional but strongly recommended).
  • Submitting a written response or rebuttal to their evaluations, as well as relevant attachments, for addition to the personnel files in which the performance evaluation is placed, if they choose.

The supervisor, manager, or department head conducting the evaluation is responsible for:

  • Establishing and communicating the strategic goals and operational direction of the department.
  • Providing reasonable training for employees at hire and as job duties evolve.
  • Assisting the employee in setting appropriate work and professional development goals. This could include prioritization of goals and an explanation of how they will be weighted and evaluated.
  • Providing ongoing feedback regarding work performance.
  • Providing reasonable support and resources for completion of work and performance goals.
  • Providing constructive performance evaluations that include both face-to-face discussion and written documentation.
  • Ensuring that the employee’s position description is up to date and accurately reflects their duties.
  • Consulting with the appropriate HRSP or ELR Director for guidance and consultation when needed.

The unit head is responsible for:

  • Confirming and communicating the appraisal period to employees at hire and whenever change occurs.
  • Confirming and communicating about the unit’s selected performance appraisal tools.
  • Ensuring both supervisors and employees understand the unit’s priorities for the purpose of building goals.
  • Ensuring supervisors complete written evaluations at least annually, unless otherwise noted; and
  • Managing the performance of supervisors who do not satisfactorily complete this key responsibility.

University Human Resources (UHR) is responsible for:

  • Setting procedural guidance, consultation, and training in performance management.
  • Providing tools such as performance evaluation templates.

Methods to Address Performance Concerns

Verbal Coaching
A supervisor and employee should always strive for open communication that identifies issues, allows both parties to be heard, and builds a plan for resolution. It is ultimately the responsibility of the supervisor to ensure that expectations have been clearly communicated. It is strongly recommended that oral coaching sessions are followed by an informal written communication, such as an email, that summarizes the important points of the discussions and reiterates communicated expectations.

Performance Improvement Plan (PIP)
When less formal methods of addressing performance concerns have failed, a supervisor may choose to initiate a formal Performance Improvement Plan (PIP). A PIP is a tool to provide employees with the opportunity to succeed while still holding them accountable for past performance. A PIP documents the ongoing performance or conduct concerns and the action plan to remediate those concerns. In general, a supervisor cannot pursue termination for cause due to performance issues without first implementing a PIP. A PIP is expected to last a minimum timeframe of thirty (30) calendar days to ensure the employee has had a sufficient amount of time to understand expectations and improve performance.

While PIP templates can be found on the University Human Resources website at (link), supervisors must consult with their assigned HRSP before issuing any PIP.

The following steps will assist supervisors in establishing a PIP.

In documenting the main performance issues, the supervisor should be objective, factual and specific, and provide facts and examples to further clarify the severity or pattern of performance concerns and may include the following:

  • Relevant dates.
  • Description of performance discrepancy or gap.
  • Description of expected performance.
  • Description of actual performance.
  • Description of consequences if the employee fails to improve.

Next, the supervisor needs to establish a provisional action plan for improvement, which may be adjusted based on the employee’s feedback in the meeting. Making the process collaborative can help in identifying areas of confusion or misunderstanding on the employee’s part and can encourage ownership of the issue(s) by the employee. This action plan should include specific and measurable objectives which are relevant to the underlying issues and a timeline for expected improvement. It should also include a description of resources, tools, or training the department will supply to the employee to improve the likelihood of success.

This action plan will help set performance expectations and will include a statement about the consequences for not meeting those objectives. If termination of employment is a possible outcome, that possibility should be clearly communicated in the PIP document.

During this meeting, the supervisor will clearly lay out the areas for improvement and plan of action. The supervisor may need to modify the action plan after receiving the employee’s input and feedback. After changes to the plan are made, the supervisor and the employee both sign the PIP form. If an employee refuses to sign the PIP, the supervisor will note the refusal on the PIP, but this refusal will not affect the implementation and effective date of the PIP.

The employee and supervisor should establish regular follow-up meetings (weekly, biweekly, or monthly), which should be outlined in the PIP. These meetings are intended for discussion and documentation of progress toward objectives. Ultimately, it is best when an employee is provided the opportunity in follow-up meetings to ask questions and seek guidance or clarification on performance expectations. Successful progress made toward the goal should be recognized as a means of motivating the employee toward continued improvement. Progress on issues identified in the PIP or updates to the guidance should be documented.

If the employee has responded positively by meeting the objectives, the supervisor should formally close the PIP. This may occur prior to the deadline outlined in the PIP document. While this should be a positive occasion for the employee, the supervisor must be sure the employee understands that continued good performance is expected.

The employee and supervisor should establish a schedule for follow-up meetings following the successful completion of a PIP. These meetings allow opportunities to answer any questions the employee may have, review performance, and address any concerns the supervisor may have as to continuing performance standards.

If an employee is unable or refuses to improve after the PIP period, if their performance worsens, or if the employee fails to complete the PIP, the supervisor may elect to extend the PIP time or pursue termination for cause due to unacceptable performance. The termination of employment for poor performance pursuant to this provision takes a minimum of sixty (60) days – minimum of thirty (30) day PIP period and at least thirty (30) days advance notice. The university reserves the right to provide additional advance notice pursuant to Policy 05-101 Discipline and Termination for Cause of Professional Faculty Member’s Appointment. Notices of termination are carried out in accordance with the same policy. Note: These procedures do not apply to professional faculty with individual contracts that have alternate termination and notice provisions (such as athletic coaches). Notice periods for these employees will be provided for in their notices of appointment or agreement.

Formal Corrective Discipline

The University uses a corrective discipline model that has as its goal issuance of fair and rational discipline aimed at correcting problematic behavior and policy violations. Normally, corrective discipline includes the administration of increasingly severe measures when a Professional Faculty employee fails to correct a problem after being given a reasonable opportunity to do so. The underlying principle of corrective discipline is to use the least severe action that is necessary to correct the undesirable situation. There may be times, though, when the University finds that egregiously poor performance, misconduct and/or violations of law or policy, depending on their severity and nature, warrant the issuance of more severe discipline, including termination, even if less severe disciplinary actions have not been taken. Therefore, there is no mandatory sequence of disciplinary measures.

An employee’s actions outside of the workplace may result in discipline if those actions impact or call into question the employee’s ability to successfully perform their job or conform to university expectations of employment. In considering actions outside the workplace, the university will examine the nature of the action, the type of position held by the employee, and relevant legal authority.

The type of discipline that is issued depends on the situation. The discipline should reflect both the seriousness of the transgression and, when appropriate, what previous efforts have been made to resolve it. Supervisors should consider the least severe action that is necessary to correct the undesirable situation.

Prior to issuing discipline, the supervisor must consult with the Associate Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs/Senior Director for Employee and Labor Relations (AVP-FD/SD-ELR) to obtain assistance in the review of the situation and the determination of the appropriate level of discipline. (See commonly used options below.) The AVP-FD/DR-ELR will assist in the decision as to whether a formal fact-finding is needed and whether other offices need to determine whether investigation is needed. Deans, vice provosts, or vice presidents may establish further consultation requirements for their colleges or units. The issuance of discipline more severe than a written reprimand must be approved by the appropriate dean, vice provost, or vice president (or their designee) (or by the President or Provost for positions that report to the President or Provost).

Generally, prior to imposing discipline involving the loss of pay or benefits or terminating an individual’s employment or appointment, the University will provide the employee with written notice of the allegations and evidence against the employee and at least seven (7) calendar days to respond to the contents of the notice and the action being proposed. In every case, the employee must be given the opportunity to respond to the concerns prior to the issuance of discipline. (These procedures do not apply to professional faculty with individual contracts that have alternate discipline, termination and notice provisions (such as athletic coaches)).

Documentation of disciplinary actions will remain in an employee’s personnel file in accordance with the Faculty Records Policy and applicable records retention rules.

Examples of Corrective Discipline

Written Reprimand
A written notice provided to the Professional Faculty employee detailing the basis of the discipline, what steps are needed to remedy the concerns and the supervisor’s expectations for the employee in the future. A written reprimand may also require an employee to take certain actions. For example, an employee may be required to attend certain trainings or meet certain performance expectations. Failure to comply with expectations or requirements set forth in a letter of reprimand may result in additional discipline.

Suspension Without Pay
A full release from duties without pay. When on suspension, an employee will generally have limited or no access to University owned or managed property. See Policy 05-101 Discipline and Termination for Cause of Professional Faculty Member’s Appointment.

Termination for Cause
The separation of a Professional Faculty employee from university employment. See Policy 05-101 Discipline and Termination for Cause of Professional Faculty Member’s Appointment.

Note: When appropriate, performance issues should be addressed as described in this document. However, the Performance Management procedures and Corrective Discipline procedures, are not mutually exclusive. This means that behavior that constitutes a performance issue and a policy violation may be addressed through both processes at the same time. The fact that behavior is being addressed through both processes does not mean that one process is impacted or delayed by the other process. Therefore, if an employee engages in repeated violations of the same policy, that employee may be subjected to termination. This is true even if the employee is in the middle of a performance improvement plan.

Questions should be directed to the Director, of Employee & Labor Relations.
This guide does not describe every possible step and does not preclude flexible options that support employee success.