Staff Manual: Counseling

Inadequate Performance


This entry applies to employees whose unsatisfactory work performance is caused by their inability or insufficient training rather than by misconduct.

Employees whose work performance is marked by misconduct are covered under Discipline, below, and in SPG 201.12. Employees whose difficulties may be caused by personal problems are covered in the Personal Problems section, below.


When employees’ unsatisfactory work performance appears to result from inability or insufficient training, supervisors should give them reasonable opportunities to master the pertinent duties before resorting to disciplinary measures.

To help decide whether or not continued employment is justified, supervisors should maintain reasonable expectations for new employees during their probationary period and provide thorough training and adequate time to learn their duties. If problems arise during the probationary period, a supervisor should consult the Library Human Resources Office as soon as possible for assistance. Incompetent non-probationary employees may ultimately be transferred or even discharged, but the latter action is a measure of last resort which requires thorough documentation and specific procedures. Supervisors should always consult Library Human Resources before taking any steps that might lead to discipline, transfer, or termination (discharge).


  • Makes notes on the date and topic of counseling discussions for later reference. Whenever formal documentation is prepared, it should be done in consultation with Library Human Resources.
  • Sets reasonable performance standards and expectations (using quantifiable criteria whenever appropriate).
  • Informs the employee of the standards and expectations for the position.
  • Learns the facts about apparently unsatisfactory performance, e.g., what the circumstances were, what consequences followed. Asks the employee for his/her account. Sometimes unforeseeable factors may have made meeting standards and expectations especially difficult.
  • Explains what made the performance unsatisfactory, e.g., what task was not done properly and what the employee should have done, not done, or done differently.
  • Teaches the employee how to do the task satisfactorily in the future (taking care to seem informative rather than punitive).
  • Asks the employee if there are other barriers to satisfactory performance not already taken into account in the discussion.
  • Helps remove barriers when possible, e.g., by providing further training, supplying needed resources, consulting the Library Human Resources Office.
  • Considers other forms of counseling if unsatisfactory performance continues. If the employee’s problem may be caused by emotional difficulties, considers referring him/her to the Faculty and Staff Assistance Program (see Personal Problems, below).
  • Contacts Library Human Resources if counseling proves ineffective, or if assistance is needed in pursuing further counseling.
Library Human Resources Office
  • Advises supervisors who seek general guidance in any phase of dealing with unsatisfactory performance.
  • Assists in analyzing a problem and outlining a plan to improve performance.
  • Identifies appropriate training needs.
  • Assists in monitoring performance and documenting problems through formal memos and warning letters.
  • Offers general assistance to all Library staff members.
  • Interprets specific University and Library policies.
  • Assists in identifying and implementing appropriate mechanisms for problem resolutions.

Personal Problems


The University provides confidential assistance to employees with personal problems such as:

  • Substance abuse;
  • Marital troubles;
  • Financial problems;
  • Emotional difficulties.

When personal problems interfere with work performance, supervisors should first consider whether counseling resources may help the troubled employee before resorting to formal disciplinary steps. The sooner problems are identified and help is sought, the less the likelihood that the problems will reach serious proportions.

The University recognizes that personal problems may interfere with an individual’s ability to perform his/her job satisfactorily. In no case, however, may a supervisor require counseling as a disciplinary measure, nor may an employee use personal problems as an excuse for continuing poor performance.

Forms of Assistance

Crisis Intervention

In psychiatric or medical emergencies, staff members or supervisors should seek immediate help by calling the appropriate University emergency service.

Type of emergency Phone Number
Medical 936-6666
Psychiatric 996-4747

Even if unsure of the degree of emergency, supervisors should not hesitate to call when it appears that a life-or-death or other serious emergency exists.

Requests for emergency help are kept confidential, and no note on emergency treatment will be made in the staff member’s employment record. (Results of all medical/psychiatric examinations must be kept confidential, and maintained in separate medical files.)

Faculty and Staff Assistance Program (FASAP)

Counseling for ongoing or non-emergency problems may be requested by calling FASAP at 936-8660. FASAP’s services may be sought directly by troubled employees or on the supervisors’ recommendations. In either case, FASAP will protect the confidentiality of the employee and, as stated above, no notes will appear in the staff member’s employment record.

FASAP offers these services to troubled employees:

  • A free one- to two-hour consultation to clarify the nature of the problem;
  • Referral to outside counseling resources when appropriate;
  • Crisis counseling;
  • Follow-up discussions with the employee, when desired, to evaluate progress.

FASAP also offers these services to supervisors who suspect that an employee’s personal problems may be affecting job performance:

  • Consultation with the supervisor to clarify the nature of the problem;
  • Help in developing an approach for dealing with the problem.
Page maintained by Richard L Schrader
Last modified: 12/18/2009