Performance Improvement

At Brown University, supervisors and managers are encouraged to set clear expectations for acceptable work performance and use of informal feedback as an initial way to correct unsatisfactory work performance.  As described more fully in the  Employee Relations policy, if informal feedback does not correct a problem, more formal measures should be taken to improve the staff member’s work performance. 

Supervisors frequently ask when to use performance management or corrective disciplinary action.  Corrective disciplinary action is used to correct behavior that we can reasonably expect the employee to correct immediately and with little, if any, training or follow-up.  By contrast, performance management is designed to address performance issues that may require time, clarification, and training to correct.  In many cases, it may be difficult to discern whether performance management or corrective disciplinary action should be used to manage an employee relations matter.  In such cases, supervisors are encouraged to consult with their assigned Human Resources Generalist.

Overview of Corrective Discipline

Supervisors are encouraged to use counseling throughout the year as an informal means to correct unacceptable behavior.  Our goal is to correct unacceptable behavior with counseling before more formal measures are necessary.   Please note that egregious acts of misconduct or violations of policy should not be addressed using informal corrective disciplinary measures; instead, such matters should be immediately addressed with formal measures after consulting with the Director of Labor and Employee Relations and/or a Human Resources Generalist.

If informal counseling fails to solve the problem, supervisors, in consultation with the Director of Labor and Employee Relations or a Human Resources Generalist should initiate formal corrective disciplinary measures to correct the unacceptable behavior.

Overview of Formal Performance Improvement Measures

Supervisors have a responsibility to reinforce and clarify work expectations for staff members. Employees should be given timely, balanced, and constructive feedback identifying areas in which performance meets or exceeds expectations, as well as those issues that require improvement. Supervisors are encouraged to use coaching and counseling because it often corrects unacceptable work performance and avoids the need for more formal measures.

If informal coaching and counseling fail to solve the problem, supervisors, after consulting with the Director of Labor and Employee Relations and/or a Human Resources Generalist, should initiate formal measures to correct the problem.

  • Written Notice of Performance Expectations is generally the first formal written document/measure in the performance management process. It is a document designed to explicitly communicate performance issues and job expectations as well as the consequences of failing to meet expectations.  
  • Performance Improvement Plan (PIP) is used to clearly and explicitly communicate to staff members when their work performance has not sufficiently improved following their receipt of Written Notice of Performance Expectations.  A PIP should provide clear notice to the staff member that his/her employment is in jeopardy and failure to demonstrate immediate and sustained improvement will result in termination from the University.  It also establishes a time line during which the staff member’s performance must improve and be sustained at an acceptable level.  

Please note that Formal Performance Improvement Measures should not be conducted without consulting your Human Resources Generalist and/or the Director of Labor and Employee Relations. 

For more information on Corrective Discipline and Formal Performance Improvement Measures please see the Employee Relations Policy and consult with your Human Resources Generalist.