Guide to performance management

The University of Georgia is committed to providing employees with reasonable resources needed to be successful in their jobs.  The University encourages open communication between employees and supervisors. Performance coaching includes a range of options that may include verbal coaching, written warning, suspension with or without pay, and/or termination.  

It is the role of the supervisor to communicate job performance expectations to the employee. The University of Georgia reserves the right to bypass or accelerate any and all steps depending on circumstances. This guide is intended to serve as a tool to help supervisors evaluate and respond to employee performance in a fair and effective manner.  It is not intended to stand alone, nor does it constitute legal advice regarding specific incidents.  

Coaching is the ongoing process whereby the supervisor directs the development of the employee through regular performance feedback. If the employee is meeting the supervisor’s expectations, positive feedback can be used to reinforce performance and further motivate the employee to even higher levels of performance. Benchmarks and specific achievements should be discussed.

Counseling occurs where there are performance issues and may be used to assist the employee in achieving a satisfactory level of performance prior to initiating more formal written warnings. In such cases, the supervisor should meet with the employee to clarify performance expectations and determine what obstacles are impeding the employee’s ability to meet and exceed standards.

Before you act, ask yourself:

  • Is the employee aware of the policy or expected behavior?
  • Have I objectively gathered all the facts?
  • Has the employee had the opportunity to respond?
  • Am I responding quickly, consistently, and reasonably?
  • Has the employee been previously counseled?
  • How severe is the problem or infraction?  What was the impact, or possible impact, of the employee’s action?
  • Were there legitimate obstacles to proper performance?

Coaching

Supervisors should communicate expectations for improvement clearly and in a timely manner. They should be prepared:

  • to review the employee’s job description with the employee
  • to be direct and as specific as possible in identifying deficiencies or incidences and their significance
  • to give employees examples of what "success" looks like in their role
  • to give the employee a chance to assess their own capacity and commitment to a position
  • to problem-solve with employees who are attempting to fulfill their job obligations
  • to identify the process for on-going assessment of improvement
  • to assess tools, systems and any recent changes in workload or areas of responsibility
  • if necessary, to explain the consequences of failure to improve within a fairly established timeline
  • to keep notes on the content and date of the conversation for their own recollection

Written performance accountabilty and commitment plan

If coaching does not lead to improved performance or behavior, or if the issues at stake are considered relatively urgent, the supervisor should outline expectations in a memo to the employee, making it clear that the employee’s success in the position is the goal of this action. This document should include expectations for improvement and additional training when warranted.  The goal is to emphasize improved performance.  Options may include a more time-specific written document about consequences, up to and including termination of employment.  Multiple letters may be used to address performance.These letters are used to record a pattern of non-performance. 

Disciplinary letters

Letters of counseling and letters of warning are two examples of disciplinary letters.  Supervisors may contact Faculty and Employee Relations for letter templates.  Use a disciplinary letter when an employee demonstrates repeated fails to meet work standards.  The letter of counseling or letter of warning should include at a minimum:

  • Tasks and responsibilities with a description of the work standard
  • Most recent example of failure to meet the work standard
  • Expected performance
  • Potential disciplinary steps for lack of improvement

Demotion/suspension/termination of employment

In the event that performance does not meet the Performance Accountability Plan, employment may be terminated.  For gross misconduct, supervisors may consider suspending the employee without pay.  Coaching, performance accountability, and commitment plans should focus more on improved employee outcomes rather than withholding salary.  Suspension without pay should be reserved for gross misconduct.  When a non-probationary, non-contract employee is suspended without pay, demoted, or terminated, the employee should be informed in writing of the specific reasons for the action taken. In the letter, advise the employee of his/her right to answer the charges by appealing to the next higher administrative level in the employing unit. The employee should also be advised of his/her grievance appeal rights as outlined in the UGA Grievance and Disciplinary Review Policy.

Suspension, demotion, or termination must first be approved by Faculty and Staff Relations.  Please contact Faculty and Staff Relations at 706-542-9756.  

The duration of the Performance Accountability and Commitment Plan will depend on many factors, including type of position, clarity or severity of the issue and assessment of likelihood of improvement.  In the Written Performance Accountability and Commitment Plan, employees will be given a reasonable amount of time to demonstrate the required improvement. While the plan will include a timeframe, employment may be ended during the plan if there is not demonstrated improvement and goals are not met.

Supervisors and employees are encouraged to contact Employee Relations to discuss job and work place concerns.

If there are allegations of a violation of the Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action Policy or retaliation, UGA’s Equal Opportunity Office should be contacted at 706-542-7912.

Additional resources

UGA Human Resources, Director of Faculty & Staff Relations, (706) 542-9756

UGA Office of Legal Affairs, (706) 542-0006

UGA Equal Opportunity Office, (706) 542-7912

Visit the Human Resources section of the policy Web site.

Dispute Resolution Policy

Disciplinary options

Key: Disciplinary Actions

C:

Coaching and performance accountability plan

D:

Disciplinary letter

F:

Final warning

T:

Termination

 

Work violations and suggested responses

Example infraction

Disciplinary options*

*Remember: Consideration should always be given to the nature of the incident, the frequency of the violation, and the employee’s overall work record before disciplinary action is taken. Before acting, supervisors should ask themselves if they have researched potential obsticales to employee performance.

1st

2nd

3rd

4th

5th

Poor performance of duties, including failure to follow instructions.

C

D

D

F

T

Any activity which violates federal or state standards regulating the provision of professional services or violation of regulations affecting continued licensure, commissioning, or certification in a profession.

D F T    

Failure to adhere to University or departmental policies or procedures

C

D

D

F

T

Insubordination, including refusal to follow instructions from supervisors or other proper authorities.

D D F T  

Use of profane, loud, or boisterous language on University premises, or actions which may be discourteous

C

D

D

F

T

Violation of an attendance policy (violations which are unrelated to FMLA)

C

D

D

 F T

Being in an unfit condition to perform the duties of the job, including sleeping on the job or working under, or suspected of working under, the influence of drugs or alcohol.

C

D

D

 F T

Unauthorized or improper use of University property.

D

F

T

   

Falsifying records, including but not limited to intentional failure to accurately record time records or registering the time card of another employee without proper authorization.

D

F

 T    

Behavior which compromises another's privacy or discloses confidential University information, including medical information

D

F

 T    

Revised 6.17.16