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​Section 804: Performance Improvement

Date Issued: 12/09/1986

Purpose

A program to outline policy and procedures to deal with non-culpable employee work performance problems.

Policy

This policy deals with non-culpable or blameless performance problems where the means for resolving such problems exists at work.

The employer recognizes that, on occasion, the work performance of some employees falls below the minimum standards of their positions due to factors which may be beyond their control. While such behaviour is non-culpable, it is detrimental to the effective and efficient delivery of services to the people of Saskatchewan.

While recognizing that such deficient performance has its basis in non-culpable factors, it is the employer's policy that such performance must be restored to a fully satisfactory level. The employer is committed to providing reasonable assistance to such an employee in his/her efforts to achieve this objective.

Section 804: Performance Improvement Policy

Date Issued: 12/09/1986

This policy deals with non-culpable or blameless work performance problems where the means for resolving such problems exists at work.

The employer recognizes that, on occasion, the work performance of some employees falls below the minimum standards of their positions due to factors which may be beyond their control. While such behaviour is non-culpable, it is detrimental to the effective and efficient delivery of services to the people of Saskatchewan.

While recognizing that such deficient performance has its basis, in non-culpable factors, it is the employer's policy that such performance must be restored to a fully satisfactory level. The employer is committed to providing reasonable assistance to such an employee in his/her efforts to achieve this objective.

This document is composed of four sections:

Policy - The policy of the employer
Table of Contents and Definitions
Guidelines - Guidelines that may be helpful in dealing with non-culpable performance deficiencies
Appendices

Guidelines

Part A

1. The status of this document?
2. To whom does policy apply?
3. Who has the authority to implement this policy?
4. What is the basis of problem work performance?
5. How are minor instances of performance problems prevented or dealt with in the Public Service?

  • Oral counseling
  • Formal counseling

6. What mechanisms are available where problem performance continues?
7. What is common to the corrective discipline, employee assistance, and performance improvement programs?
8. What categories of behavior do these programs deal with:

  • Culpable or blameworthy behavior
  • Non-culpable or non-blameworthy behavior

9. What forms of non-culpable behavior does the Employee Assistance Program deal with?
10. What forms of non-culpable behavior does the Performance Improvement Program deal with?
11. Employee Assistance, Performance Improvement, Corrective Discipline Programs - A systems view
12. How do I know what program to use?
13. How do I respond when program choice is later found in error?
14. How do I respond when the problem is improper attitude?

Part B

1. What is the objective of the performance improvement program?
2. Employer's response - General Guideline

  • Maintain employee in position
  • Maintain employment - different position
  • Temporary or permanent severance from employment
  • Requirements in all cases

3. Kinds of non-culpable behavior - Employer's Guideline

  • Loss of qualifications
  • Criminal charge, conviction, Incarceration
  • Innocent absenteeism/lateness
  • Non-competence
  • Deficient skills/abilities
  • Medical condition 

Part C

How to implement the Performance Improvement Program

1. Define the performance plan
2. Seek advice
3. Conduct a problem solving interview with the employee
4. Develop an action plan
5. Meet with the employee
6. Implement the action plan

Appendices

Appendix A - Formal Counseling - Sample Memo

Appendix B - Formal Counseling – Progress acknowledged - Sample Memo

Appendix C - Summary of problem solving interview - Sample memo

Appendix D1 - Abandonment of position - Sample memo

Appendix D2 - Abandonment of Position - Sample memo

Appendix E - Problem Solving Interview Guideline

Section 804: Performance Improvement Definitions

Date Issued: 12/09/1986

Abandonment of Position Absent from work for one (1) week or more without leave.

Culpable Behaviour Behaviour for which one is fully responsible and deserving of blame.

Demotion The voluntary or involuntary change of employment from one class to another class having a lower  maximum rate of pay.

Innocent Absenteeism/Lateness Constant inability to attend at work or report for work in a timely manner, for non-culpable reasons.

Non-Culpable Behaviour Behaviour for which the employee is not fully responsible or deserving of blame.

Termination Ending of employment in the public service for non-culpable reasons.

Transfer The voluntary or involuntary movement of an employee from one position to another position having the same maximum salary.

Section 804: Performance Improvement Guidelines Part A

Date Issued: 12/09/1986

1. What is the status of this document?
This document takes into account the content of existing collective agreements. However, where there is a conflict between this document and the collective agreement, the latter takes precedence. The collective agreement must be consulted when dealing with those non-culpable performance problems that are dealt with via this policy.

2. To whom does the employer's policy apply?
The employer's Performance Improvement policy applies to all employees of the Government of Saskatchewan who are governed by the Public Service Act, other than those on initial probation.

3. Who has authority to implement the Performance Improvement Program?
Supervisors and managers, as delegated by department management, have authority to implement this policy.

4. What is the basis of problem work performance?
Problem work performance can have its basis in employee behaviour that adversely affects work output. In essence, it is what an employee is actually doing, or not doing, and the effect of that action or inaction on work.

5. How are minor instances of problem work performance prevented or dealt with in the public service?
An ongoing supervisory/management responsibility is to ensure the employee work behaviour is consistent with work requirements. Thus, required work behaviour is shaped by such things as orientation and training on initial entry, supervisor/employee goal setting, coaching, feedback, problem solving and evaluation. The overwhelming majority of employees respond positively to these supervising practices.

In addition, recourse may be had to oral and formal counselling.

Oral Counselling: the verbal pointing out of required behaviour at work where a pattern of unacceptable conduct is having an adverse effect on work performance; e.g. an employee begins to submit reports after the due date.

In this situation, the supervisor/manager meets with the employee in private and:

i) Indicates the unacceptable conduct that is developing;

ii) Describes the impact of that conduct on work performance;

iii) Obtain the employees explanation for his/her behaviour;

iv) State the behaviour required, when it is required and why it is necessary for work performance;

Formal Counselling: Written direction to an employee at work where unacceptable behaviour is having an adverse effect on work performance, e.g. in spite of oral counselling, the late submission of reports continues.

Formal counselling normally follows where oral counselling has failed.

In this situation, the supervisor/manager meets with the employee in private and:

i) Indicates the unacceptable conduct that is developing and refer to earlier oral counselling if such occurred

ii) Describes the impact of the unacceptable conduct on work performance

iii) Obtain the employee's explanation for his/her behaviour

iv) State the behaviour required and why it is necessary for work performance, and, where appropriate, the assistance management is prepared to offer to aid the employee in his/her efforts to improve

v) Indicate a date for review of the employee's progress in achieving the required behaviour

vi) Summarize the information conveyed and received at the interview in a memo to the employee

The sole purpose of the formal counselling memo is to make absolutely clear to the employee the behaviour and resulting performance required at work. As a result, formal counselling is not considered a disciplinary action. (see Appendix A)
 
A copy of the formal counselling memo should be retained by the issuing supervisor/manager. A copy should be placed on the employee's departmental personnel file. Where, in the view of management following a review, the employee's performance is now fully satisfactory, the letter of formal counselling shall be removed from the employee's personnel file and returned to the employee. By such action, management is tangibly acknowledging the employee's effort to improve performance.

6. What mechanisms are available where problem performance continues?
Where normal supervisory/management responses (as outlined in paragraph 5) are not successful in correcting deficient performance, the following administrative mechanisms may be applied:

8. What categories of behaviour do Employee Assistance, Performance Improvement and Corrective Discipline Programs deal with?
Unacceptable behaviour at work can be grouped into two major categories:

i.  Culpable or blameworthy behaviour - behaviour for which the employee is fully responsible and deserving of blame. In this situation, the employee knows what is required, is capable of doing what is required but chooses to act in a way contrary to requirements. For example, in most theft situations, the employee knows stealing is unacceptable, has the capacity to behave as required but chooses to carry out the act of theft. In making the choice and acting upon it, the employee is fully responsible for the consequences of his actions. Such culpable behaviour warrants a disciplinary response and the employee is responsible for correcting his behaviour. The employer's Corrective Discipline Program deals with culpable or blameworthy behaviour; for details consult your personnel manual.

ii.  Non-culpable or non-blameworthy behaviour - behaviour for which the employee is not fully responsible or deserving of blame. In this situation, the employee may not know and/or may not be capable of behaving as required. For example, an employee, while endeavouring, may not be meeting work requirements. The impediment may be a lack of skill or knowledge, a personal or health problem, etc. In this situation the employee may not be fully responsible for the results of his behaviour. There is some impediment to performance over which he has limited control. Such non-culpable behaviour warrants a non-disciplinary response. In this situation, while acknowledging the employee's ultimate responsibility but aware of his limited capacity, the employer will assist the employee's efforts in achieving satisfactory performance.
The employer's Employee Assistance and Performance Improvement Programs deal with such non-culpable or non-blameworthy behaviour.

In summary, culpable behaviour is that where the employee knows and is capable but will not perform as required. Non-culpable behaviour is that where the employee cannot perform. The former warrants a disciplinary response, the latter a non-disciplinary response.

9. What forms of non-culpable behaviour does the Employee Assistance Program deal with?
The Employee Assistance Program deals with the identification and treatment of those conditions where the root cause of the employee's deficient performance requires the application of specialized skills not found in the work place. Thus, for example, where the cause of an employee's deficient performance is based in a mental or physical condition, the Employee Assistance Program may arrange for appropriate therapies on a confidential basis. Other kinds of problems which may adversely affect work performance and where the Employee Assistance Program may be called upon include: physical and psychiatric referral, family, legal and debt counselling, alcohol and drug addiction. Employee involvement in the Employee Assistance Program is voluntary. For full details on the scope of this program and how to access it, please refer to the Employee Assistance Program section.

10. What forms of non-culpable behaviour does the Performance Improvement Program deal with?
The Performance Improvement Program deals with those conditions where:

  • Local management has the skills and capacity to deal with the root cause of the employee's deficient performance at the work site
  • Where the employee has refused to participate in the Employee Assistance Program
  • Where the Employee Assistance Program involvement has not resolved the problem

By way of example, an employee's deficient performance may have its basis in deficient skills. Local management may assist the employee in resolving the problem via normal supervisory practices, i.e. training, coaching, closer supervision. Other kinds of problem behaviour which may adversely affect performance and where the Performance Improvement Program may be used include:

  • Loss of qualifications, e.g. loss of license or professional certification, etc. required for work
  • Non-competence in performing regular duties due to deficient skills or chronic illness/injury
  • Innocent absenteeism/persistent lateness
  • Criminal charges, conviction, incarceration

Specific direction on how to deal with each of the above can be found in Part B of this document

11. Employee Assistance, Performance Improvement, Corrective Discipline - A Systems View
A diagram setting out how each program functions and their interrelationship can be viewed by clicking here.

12. How do I know what program to use?
Any decision you make as to choice of program will be judged on the reasonableness of that decision based on the facts you have, i.e. what you have been told by the employee or what is clearly evident. The guide is: what would a normal person conclude is the appropriate management response in the face of these facts?

  • Where there is no obvious non-culpable explanation for the unacceptable behaviour, supervisors/managers can conclude it is wilful and thus deserving of a disciplinary response
  • Where an employee advances non-culpable causes for deficient performance it is the employee's obligation to provide reasonable and tangible evidence of the existence of those causes
  • The aforementioned description, i.e. culpable and non-culpable behaviour, as well as the description provided of each program and the kind of behaviour each deals with are instructive in this regard
  • Consult with your personnel advisor and test the conclusion you have reached as to program choice and the rationale for that conclusion

13. How do I respond when program choice is later found in error?
Occasionally a behaviour problem that seems appropriate to one program will, after program initiation and increased familiarity with the situation, be seen to more logically belong in another program.

Example: the problem was consistent lateness. The employee's explanations - alarm clock failure, missed busses, etc., gave the appearance of culpable behaviour and Corrective Discipline was initiated. After a written reprimand and with continued lateness, the employee admitted to a family problem - abandonment by her husband, dealing with young children in the early morning, etc. Corrective Discipline ceased and the employee engaged in family counselling via the Employee Assistance Program. With such counselling and short term alteration to starting hours, the employee returned to fully satisfactory performance.

Example: the employee seemed despondent at work and admitted to occasional drug usage. Medical assessment and drug counselling via the Employee Assistance Program were initiated. No evidence was received that the employee was drug dependent. Further investigation produced an admission that the employee felt no challenge in work and that, while able, simply lacked interest. Corrective Discipline was initiated; the employee voluntarily left the service.

The key lesson to be learned from these examples is that the root cause of performance problems may not be initially clear. However, once the true underlying causes are determined, the program appropriate to those causes must be adopted.

14. How do I respond when the problem is "improper attitude"?
Given its subjective nature, the employer will not respond solely to claims of "improper attitude." In such circumstances, one must focus on the overt behaviour that flows from the perceived attitude and the impact of that behaviour on work performance. There must be a determination of whether the unproductive behaviour is culpable or non-culpable to determine the appropriate corrective mechanism. The employer is not concerned with the attitudes held by its employees - this is their private concern. It is concerned however with behaviour that adversely affects work performance and will respond to correct such behaviour.

Section 804: Performance Improvement Guidelines Part B

Date Issued: 12/09/1986

The following guidelines may be helpful in dealing with non-culpable performance problems.

1. What is the objective of the Performance Improvement Program (PIP)?
The objective of the program is to achieve satisfactory work performance by the employee. PIP deals with problem performance that has its basis in non-culpable factors. Recognizing the employees limited control over such factors, the employer will provide reasonable assistance to aid the employee to achieve satisfactory work performance. It is emphasized that the primary responsibility for improvement is with the employee; the employer will assist such endeavours. The assistance provided by the employer will also take into account the legitimate needs of work. Where satisfactory performance cannot be achieved in the present position, emphasis will be on preserving employment at minimum disruption to the employee. Separation from employment for deficient performance, based on non-culpable factors, will only occur as a last resort and only where other alternatives are not appropriate or have failed.

Important Qualification
Non-culpable deficient work performance may take a wide variety of forms and management response will vary taking into account the particular factors of each case. Given this, it is emphasized that this document is a guideline to assist management in the effective resolution of problems of this kind.

2. The employer's response - general guidelines
Problem performance stemming from non-culpable factors may take a wide variety of forms. Further, they may occur in quite different work situations. The result is that certain responses, appropriate in one case may not be appropriate in another. The goal is to fashion a response, based on the situation at hand, that promises the best chance of success and that is fair and reasonable in those circumstances.

In dealing with performance problems that have a non-culpable basis, the employer's approach is one that starts with initiatives that promise success and that minimize the impact on the employee. Where these initial approaches are not successful, or are not appropriate, the employer will implement alternate responses that promise success and that incrementally increase the impact on the employee's work situation. In essence, the employer's response is progressive.

Generally, there are three categories of progressive responses. When dealing with non-culpable performance problems you should consider each category, in the progressive order set out, to determine that response which is appropriate to the situation at hand. These categories are as follows:

a) Response that maintains employee in position
Used: Where the substandard performance can be temporarily accepted while the employee, with management support, strives to improve, example:

i) Training, clearer definition of job requirements, coaching, closer supervision, etc.

ii) Alter work requirements for a specific period - one (1) to three (3) months while employee strives to achieve required performance.

iii) Where requested, granting accumulated vacation leave to allow employee time to resolve basic causes. Accumulated sick leave may be granted on request where causes of deficiency performance have a medical basis.

It is expected that the majority of non-culpable performance problems will be resolved via the response indicated in category a).

b) Response which maintains employment, but in different position
Used: Where lesser responses fail or are inappropriate and where it can be clearly demonstrated that the employee cannot perform in present position, example:

i) Transfer the employee within the work unit, or failing this, out of work unit to a position he is capable of performing.

ii) Demote the employee within the work unit, or failing this, out of the work unit to a position he is capable of performing
Transfers and demotions may be voluntary or involuntary. Inter-departmental transfers will be coordinated through the Public Service Commission.

c) Responses that temporarily or permanently sever employment
Used: Where lesser responses have failed, or are inappropriate, and where it can be clearly demonstrated that the employee cannot perform and there is minimal likelihood he will be able to perform in the immediate future, example:

i) Determine applicability of disability plan where deficient performance has a medical basis;

ii) On request, grant definite or indefinite leave to allow employee time to resolve causal factors;

iii) Termination from employment on non-culpable grounds.

d) Responses common to all categories
As stated, non-culpable problems may take a variety of forms and may lead to varied responses. However, in determining a response, the following should be borne in mind in all cases:

i) You must seek advice of your departmental personnel advisor and maintain regular communications with that person until the performance problem is resolved .

ii) In fashioning any response, you should take into account the employee's length of service and work record, the nature of the situation at hand and the impact of deficient performance on operations .

iii) Primary emphasis should be on using those initiatives that will maintain employment in present position.

iv) Where improving performance in present position is not possible, you must be prepared to justify why this is not the case, i.e. what in-position alternatives were considered and why they are not appropriate.

v) Where improved performance is sought by movement to another position, i.e. transfer or demotion, you must be prepared to justify how such action is expected to result in improved performance.

vi) Where termination of employment is recommended, you must be prepared to justify that all reasonable alternatives that would retain employment.

3. Kinds of non-culpable behaviour - the employer's guidelines
Various forms of non-culpable behaviour and guidelines as to how they should be dealt with are as follows:

a) Loss of qualifications

Definition: the loss of a professional certification, license, bondability, insurance coverage that are a requirement of the employee's position.

Example: an employee who is required to drive loses driver's license.

Where such loss does not occur at work a disciplinary response is generally not appropriate, e.g. employee loses license while driving own car on own time.

When such loss occurs at work, disciplinary action may be taken; e.g. employee loses license while speeding in departmental vehicle. However, separate from the disciplinary response, this policy will be used to deal with the loss of a qualification the employee requires for work.

Where a qualification is lost the supervisor/manager should determine why the loss occurred, the circumstances under which and when the loss will be rescinded and the employee's intentions in regard to regaining the qualification.

The most appropriate response to this situation may be to place the employee in other work at the work site in the same classification for which the qualification is not required if such work is available.

Termination of employment due to the loss of a qualification requires the following be satisfied: the employee was made aware that the qualification was required for work; the qualification is required for work and is a reasonable requirement; the requirement has been consistently enforced; an effort has been made to find the employee alternate employment where the qualification is not required. Failure to satisfy one or more of these requirements may prejudice the termination at grievance/arbitration.

b) Criminal Charge, Conviction, Incarceration
Definition: inability to participate at work due to the aforementioned.

Example: employee imprisoned for non-work related misconduct.

The laying of charges, conviction and presence or absence of incarceration that flow from on the job criminal activities are dealt with via Corrective Discipline.

Corrective Discipline is also appropriate where:

  • Continued employment would prejudice the employer's reputation or program, e.g. child case worker charged with non-client drug trafficking
  • The interests of the employer or employees would be prejudiced by attendance at work, e.g. employee charged with a serious sexual offense

A charge and conviction of off the job criminal activity not related to work may result in the application of Performance Improvement policy to the employee e.g. the employee is incarcerated and cannot report.

Where an employee must stand trial, is held pending charges or is convicted and incarcerated, he may request leave, e.g. accumulated vacation, definite, indefinite.

Such requests will be fairly considered by the employer taking into account:

  • The impact of the employee's absence on operations
  • The ability to find and train a temporary or permanent replacement
  • The length of incarceration
  • The employee's work record

Where an employee is incarcerated and does not request a leave of absence or where such leave is denied, the employee will be considered to have abandoned his job and will be separated. The employee will be informed of his right to request leave before such action is taken. For administrative steps when a position is declared abandoned, see Appendix D-1 and D-2.

An employee may be convicted but the judicial ruling may be to place him on a temporary absence program, i.e. while the sentence is served the employee is permitted to attend work on a partial week basis. In order to serve his sentence, the employee may seek leave, i.e. accumulated vacation or definite. The employer will fairly consider such requests.

Where the employee is:

  • Convicted but not incarcerated
  • On return from incarceration
  • Charges are laid but trial is pending

and where there is clear evidence that the employee's presence at work will have an adverse impact on clients, fellow employees, operations due to the nature of the crime, the employer may transfer/demote the employee to work where such impacts are minimized.

The most appropriate response to the incarceration situation may be to place the employee on leave.

c) Innocent Absenteeism/Lateness
Definition: Consistent inability to either attend at work or, report for work in a timely manner.
Example: Employee has a high absence record due to illness

Where absenteeism/lateness is innocent i.e. caused by legitimate factors beyond the employee's control, e.g. illness, personal problems, etc. disciplinary action is not appropriate.

Innocent absenteeism and lateness must show a consistent pattern, not simply isolated occurrences.

Absenteeism includes long periods as well as numerous short periods. The latter are considered more injurious to the employer given their frequency, difficulty in planning/making alternate arrangements, etc.

The most common reasons for innocent absenteeism/lateness are medical or personal problems. Where a medical problem is the source, a medical evaluation and prognosis may be required. Where a medical problem is determined to be the root cause, please refer to Non-competence - Medical Condition.

In taking action to deal with innocent absenteeism/lateness, the employer should:

  • Be able to indicate, via comparative evidence, that the attendance/lateness record of the employee is significantly greater than that of other employees in the work unit
  • Be able to demonstrate the negative impact of the continuing absenteeism/lateness on operations
  • Offer reasonable assistance to the employee in his efforts to overcome the problem
  • Give clear written warning to the employee of the job consequences of continued absenteeism/lateness

In addition to the above, termination for innocent absenteeism/lateness requires that two (2) criteria be met:

  • A serious and consistent pattern of absence/lateness can be demonstrated
  • There is little likelihood the situation will improve in the future

The future prognosis is dependent on an understanding of the factors causing absenteeism/lateness and the likelihood of correcting these causes. Commonly this requires the employer obtain a medical prognosis. Should termination be challenged management has the onus of establishing both criteria have been met.

Termination for absenteeism/lateness is prompted by the occurrence of a culminating incident after a final warning.

An appropriate response to innocent absenteeism/lateness is job redesign whereby job requirements are temporarily reduced while the employee strives to resolve underlying problem and achieve satisfactory performance.

c) Non-competence
Definition: where the employee endeavours to perform but does not achieve required performance for reasons that are beyond the employees control.

Example: A clerk typist who endeavours but cannot master the skills involved in computer based word processing.

Non-competence normally has its origins in two distinct situations:

  • Lack of inherent abilities or skills
  • Existence of a medical condition

Each will be addressed in turn

1) Deficient Skills/Abilities
In dealing with performance problems that have their origin in deficient skills and abilities, it is critical that supervisor/management initiatives have as their goal the restoration of the employee to effective performance.

Thoroughness to this end will assist in achieving the desired result or provide the justification for other actions that may be required.

For non-competence, a consistent pattern of deficient performance must exist, rather than an isolated instance. In dealing with non-competence due to deficient skills/abilities, supervisors/managers must:

  • Establish the level of performance required, based on the employees job description. The level of performance required is not "exceptional performance" but "meets requirements"
  • Where appropriate, prepare a comparison between the performance of other employees engaged in the same kind of work in the work unit and the employee in question
  • Inform the employee of the performance required and the standards to be used to measure that performance. Such standards should be concrete, e.g. number of claims processed by when etc.
  • Indicate the actual performance of the employee relative to the standard and the effect of this deficiency on program delivery in the work unit
  • Provide ongoing supportive instructions, coaching, training etc., appropriate to resolving the performance problem. The objective is to assist the employee achieve the standard required
  • Inform the employee in writing of the job consequences of failure to improve
  • Monitor and record the employee's progress

To justify termination for reasons of non-competence the foregoing must be met. In addition, two additional criteria must be satisfied:

  • The employee is clearly unable to perform the duties of this position
  • Consideration has been given to placing the employee in alternate employment for which he would be competent, with no success

Where such termination is challenged, management has the onus to demonstrate that all criteria have been met.

The most appropriate response to the non-competence problem may be to assist the employee via training, coaching, etc. at the work site to achieve required standards.

2) Medical Condition
An employee who cannot perform due to the existence of a medical condition cannot be disciplined for work deficiencies that result from that condition.

Non-competence due to a medical condition may or may not be accompanied by a pattern of absenteeism/lateness.
The employer may at any time, remove from work any employee whose medical condition:

  • Clearly renders them unfit for duty
  • Where presence at work would clearly constitute a real and immediate danger to the employer, other employees or the employee

A typical case is the employee who reports for work ill and is unable to work.

In such situations, sick leave may be granted on request. Where there is no request or no accumulated sick or vacation leave credits, the employee is absent without pay due to inability to perform. 

Where the employer has reasonable grounds for believing an employee is physically or mentally ill, a medical assessment and prognosis can be required. The employer may remove the employee from work, only where the employee is unfit to perform or would constitute a danger at work. If requested, sick leave may be granted during this period of absence. If employee is found fit, sick leave credits will be restored.



  

Section 804: Performance Improvement Guidelines Part C

Date Issued: 12/09/1986

How to implement the Performance Improvement Program
The following steps should be taken when dealing with problems dealt with under the Performance Improvement Program. While oriented to the non-competence problem, they are appropriate to other performance problems - innocent absenteeism, personal/health problems, etc. These steps should be followed in conjunction with guidelines found in Part B.

Objective: The objective of the Performance Improvement Program is to assist employees to achieve satisfactory performance.

1) Define the Performance Problem: any action taken by supervision/ management must be based on evidence that can be clearly demonstrated, communicated and that clearly indicate the need for performance improvement. This would include:

  • Accurate job description: the job description should reflect what the employee is actually expected to do at work and specific and measurable standards of what the employee is expected to achieve.
  • Indicators of performance: examples of work done by the employee that fail to meet standards of performance.
  • Impact of sub-standard performance: ability to tangibly indicate the effect of the sub-standard performance on the work unit.

This phase focuses on individual performance relative to standards. The objective is threefold: to establish the required performance baseline; to set out the actual performance of the employee and finally, demonstrate the impact of the deficient performance on the work unit. Emphasis is on the concrete and measurable. Preparation must be thorough if the following steps are to be effective. This is the most impact component of successfully dealing with non-culpable performance problems.

Record Retained: job description, examples of deficient work, written indication of impact of deficient work on operations.

2) Seek Advice: when considering implementing the Performance Improvement Program you must consult your departmental personnel advisor. Such discussions will include:

  • Your perception of the performance problem, i.e. performance required, actual performance and the performance gap
  • The impact of deficient performance on the work unit
  • Your proposed course of action

You will receive advice on how to approach this situation, the employer's practice in such situations and available options. Such contacts should continue throughout the remaining steps until the performance problem is resolved.

Record Retained: make note of advice received, from whom, when, etc.

3) Conduct a problem solving interview with the employee
Note: guidelines for conducting a problem solving interview can be found in Appendix E.

Arrange the meeting:

  • Inform the employee you would like to meet with him concerning a performance problem. Briefly outline the nature of the problem
  • Inform him that his union steward may attend if that is his wish
  • State that the purpose of the meeting is to get his views as to the existence and cause of the performance problem with a view to reaching jointly agreed to solution if possible
  • Schedule the meeting shortly thereafter

At the meeting:

  • Reiterate that the purpose of the meeting is to discuss a performance problem you perceive exists. Emphasize that the objective is to reach a joint resolution to the matter
  • Indicate you will take notes and that your sole purpose is to accurately obtain the employee's views. Indicate the notes will be read back and revised to the employee's satisfaction to ensure they reflect his views
  • Briefly describe the performance expected at work with reference to the employee's job description and measures of performance. Indicate the employee's actual performance and the effect of this performance deficiency on work unit performance. Illustrate with concrete examples
  • Ask for the employee's explanation of the problem. If there is denial, seek an explanation for the facts you have presented If there is agreement that a problem exists, seek the employee's agreement as to cause. Your objective here is to fully understand the employee's perception of the problem and its cause
  • Seek the employee's views as to that action necessary to resolve the problem - what action could he take, how might you assist. Indicate that such proposals are welcomed and will be considered
  • Close the meeting by reading back the information and proposals advanced by the employee. Amend your notes as required. Indicate your wish to consider the matter further and that you will meet with him shortly as to the course of action to be taken

Note: Your objective in this meeting is to obtain information via questioning. By the end you will have:

  • Set out the problem as you perceive it
  • Obtained the employee's perception of the problem
  • Received suggestions as to how the employee intends to resolve the problem as well as the assistance the department might provide

After the Meeting:

Prepare a memo to the employee containing the following information (see Appendix B).

  • The date, location, attendees and purpose of the meeting
  • A brief description of the performance problem you advanced - expected performance, actual performance citing examples and the impact of the deficient performance
  • Summary of discussion concerning the performance problem; includes employee's perceptions and views as to cause
  • Describe the action the employee proposed to take to resolve the problem as well as assistance sought from management to that end
  • Indicate your will meet with the employee shortly to propose a course of action to resolve the problem

Note: this summarizes the results of your meeting.
If as a result of your meeting you believe the Employee Assistance or Corrective Discipline Programs are necessary to resolve the matter, follow the steps set out in those programs.

Record Retained: a copy of this memo is retained by the issuing supervisor/manager, a copy is placed on the employee's personnel file in the department. If successive problem solving interviews occur, a summary memo of each is to be issued as above.

4) Develop an Action Plan

Based on the information obtained in the interview and advice received from your departmental personnel advisor.

  • Determine the course of action the employee must adopt to resolve the problem. The suggestions of the employee to this end should be accommodated whenever possible
  • Establish the assistance the employer is to provide to assist the employee
  • Indicate the changes that are necessary in employee performance and how these changes will be measured in concrete terms
  • Indicate the time frame within which these changes must occur

5) Meet with the employee

  • Meet with the employee; inform him that his union steward may attend if that is his wish
  • Review the results of your last meeting as well as your investigation/consideration of the situation
  • Set out the course of action required by management, as per paragraph 4. Clarify as required. Indicate that performance must improve or adverse job consequences could result
  • Set a date for reviews of the employee's progress in relation to the action plan

Record Retained: after meeting is concluded, summarize the results in a memo to the employee. (see Appendix C) Copy of memo is retained by issuing supervisor/manager. A copy is placed on the employee's departmental personnel file.

6) Implement the action plan

  • Where you have made commitments to the employee in terms of assistance, e.g. training, leave, work adjustments, etc. you must follow up on these commitments. Your action in this regard should be recorded
  • Monitor and maintain a record of the employee's progress against the plan of action. Provide continuing coaching and feedback as to performance, both positive and negative; maintaining a written record of same
  • At the time previously agreed upon, conduct a formal review of the employee's progress
  • If the plan of action has resolved the problem, acknowledge this to the employee orally and in memo form; copy retained by issuing supervisor/manager and a copy is placed on the employee's departmental personnel file
  • If the performance problem continues to exist, consult with your personnel advisor (step 2), conduct a problem solving interview with the employee (Step 3) and develop an alternate action plan (Step 4), if appropriate.

Record Retained:

  • Notation of assistance provided the employee - informal notes
  • Indicators of the employee's progress in achieving required standards; includes examples of work both positive and negative - informal notes and samples of work
  • Written memos indicating employee's progress or absence of same

If you have any questions or require more information please contact:

HR Service Centre

hrsc@gov.sk.ca

Phone: 1-877-852-5808 or 306-798-0000

Fax: 1-877-852-9219 or 306-798-9966

HR Service Centre Fax Cover Sheet

2100 Broad Street, Regina, SK, S4P 1Y5

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