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705 Broad St. Box 90496
Durham, NC 27705
Phone: (919) 684-5600
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Performance Improvement Plan and Corrective Action

What is a Performance Improvement Plan?

A written tool available to Supervisors for the purpose of:

  • Improving and sustaining the behavior and results of the Staff Member
  • Addressing performance discrepancies identified through the performance management process
  • Providing a SMART plan Including an appropriate timeline with regular meetings for the Supervisor and Staff Member

Cooperation and continuing communication between the Staff Member and Supervisor is essential to the success of the Performance Improvement Plan.

My Supervisor informed me that my job performance is "Below Expectations" and gave me a documented oral warning. I feel that my job performance has not been properly evaluated. Am I in danger of losing my job?

  • "Below Expectations" performance should be noted and brought to your attention in a timely manner. The Supervisor should also outline for you the appropriate corrective action based on a written Performance Improvement Plan.
  • A documented oral warning is the initial step in the application of progressive corrective action. Your Supervisor should meet with you to discuss your performance or conduct on a regular basis.
  • Any stage of the progressive corrective action process is to be taken seriously. However, this documented oral warning is the first step in the process. It should be a "wake-up" call to you that corrective action is needed.
  • Failure to correct the "Below Expectations" performance may result in further corrective action, up to and including termination of employment.

I enjoy my job but there are certain issues between my Supervisor and myself that are preventing me from doing as well as I could do. I am afraid that I may lose my job if my performance doesn't improve. What resources are available to address this concern?

  • A Staff Member should first speak with his/her Supervisor's Supervisor and follow the normal chain of command. Once the Staff Member has spoken with the Supervisor's Supervisor he/she may request counseling with the entity/department Human Resources representative or a Staff and Labor Relations representative concerning the problem(s) with performance or conduct.
  • A meeting with a representative from Staff and Labor Relations can assist in determining what an appropriate course of action for an issue is.
  • The goal of the conference is to provide direction and assistance in the resolution of the issues.
  • As a result of that meeting, a member of the Staff and Labor Relations office may facilitate a meeting to assist in resolution of the issues; assist in the arrangement of mediation; or support attempts to go back to the entity/department to resolve the issue.

Is higher-level management review necessary before a "Below Expectations" rating is communicated to a Staff Member?

  • Whenever overall performance is "Below Expectations", it is required that next level Supervisor be aware and know that a performance improvement plan is in place.

How will I know what my Supervisor expects of my performance?

  • A Supervisor should discuss and document, in writing, the Expected Job Results and Expected Behaviors for each Staff Member during the performance planning stage.
  • If this has not taken place, the Staff Member should initiate a conversation with his/her Supervisor.
  • The Staff Member can make a list of what he/she understands the Expected Job Results to be and review them with his/her Supervisor.

How do I know if I am doing a good job?

  • Supervisors should give their Staff Members regular feedback throughout the evaluation year on their progress at achieving Expected Job Results and Expected Behaviors.
  • Staff Members should make a point to ask their Supervisor for feedback.

Prior to terminating a Staff Member for poor performance do I have to go through the steps of giving the Staff Member a documented oral warning, written warning and final written warning?

  • To ensure that a Staff Member has every opportunity to improve job performance with assistance from his/her Supervisor, Duke requires using these progressive steps. Steps may be omitted or repeated depending on the frequency, severity and/or nature of performance exhibited.
  • Serious misconduct or criminal activity may result in immediate termination of employment; however, a department may not terminate employment of a Staff Member for any reason without prior review by the entity/department Human Resources representative and Staff and Labor Relations.

To what do the terms "Serious Misconduct" and "Criminal Activity" refer?

  • Examples of serious misconduct or criminal activity include, but are not limited to, assault, insubordination, misappropriation of funds, falsifying records, threats, harassment, discrimination, etc.
  • All such cases of serious misconduct or criminal activity may result in immediate termination of employment.

How long must I keep a Staff Member with "Below Expectations" performance on a Performance Improvement Plan?

The length of the performance improvement period should be determined in consultation with the entity/department Human Resources representative or a Staff and Labor Relations representative. The length of the period depends on such factors as:

  • Nature and scope of behavior/results to be improved
  • Amount of time needed to fully observe the Staff Member's performance

The Supervisor must provide a copy of the signed Performance Improvement Plan to the Staff Member and keep a copy in the department personnel file. The Performance Improvement Plan must be attached to the Performance Planning and Review form at the end of the Evaluation/Development Stage.

When should I get Human Resources involved in the corrective action process?

  • The entity/department Human Resources representative or a Staff and Labor Relations representative is available to consult with Staff Members and Supervisors at any stage of the performance improvement planning and/or progressive corrective action process.
  • It is a good idea for Supervisors to consult with the entity/department Human Resources representative or a Staff and Labor Relations representative as soon as a performance problem is identified, even before corrective action is necessary.

Does an overall "Below Expectations" automatically trigger a performance improvement plan?

  • Staff Member should not be surprised by a performance evaluation rating of "Below Expectations".
  • From a management practice standpoint, a performance improvement plan should be in place when an overall rating of "Below Expectations" is given.
  • However, sometimes circumstances exist whereby the performance evaluation overall rating of "Below Expectations" occurs first. In those instances, a performance improvement plan must immediately be put into place to address performance deficiencies.

If a Staff Member is currently under corrective action, does that mean that he/she must be rated as "Below Expectations" for the year?

  • No. If a Staff Member has an active written or final written warning in the corrective action process, he/she cannot be rated "Exceeded Expectations" for the year. However, if the overall body of performance warrants, the individual can be rated "Achieved Expectations."
  • Similarly, if a Staff Member receives "Below Expectations" for one section of the performance review, he/she cannot receive an overall rating of "Exceeded Expectations" but may be rated "Achieved Expectations" for the year.

What is the policy for relating performance levels to current corrective action?

  • If a person has anything less than an "Achieved Expectations" there should be a Performance Improvement Plan to correct performance put into place.
  • At minimum, a counseling discussion should happen and be appropriately documented in the Performance Improvement Plan.