Managing and Developing Performance When the Manager's/Specialist's Results are Level 2 (Met Most) or Level 1 (Did Not Meet)

In this context, the term "developing" means increasing the capacity to perform through formal learning, coaching, improving work processes, or other learning methods.

Immediate superiors should never ignore performance that mostly meets or does not meet expectations. Individuals who are performing well become demoralized in knowing that they are treated no differently from others whose results do not meet expectations. In addition, when an immediate superior decides to address performance problems after many years, the individual may legitimately ask "Why now?"

1. The immediate superior's key responsibility is to resolve performance problems by:

  • telling the individual frankly how he/she is measuring up to performance expectations;
  • assessing the cause of the performance problem before taking action;
  • providing regular, timely feedback about performance;
  • giving specific support and assistance to help the individual overcome the shortfall and improve performance;
  • documenting efforts to resolve performance issues; and
  • expressing confidence about the individual's improvement

2. When the individual's results do not meet expectations, the immediate superior has the responsibility to:

  • review the performance expectations with the individual;
  • clearly inform the individual that the performance expectations are not being met;
  • inform the individual of the nature of the shortfall;
  • provide supporting evidence to justify findings;
  • inform the individual of possible consequences if results continue to not meet the performance expectations;
  • identify and discuss the cause of the performance problem and possible solutions with the individual; and
  • provide the individual with the opportunity to make the necessary adjustments to meet the performance expectations, when appropriate:
  • assist the individual in making adjustments by developing an Action Plan to Improve Performance;
  • provide coaching or training, when appropriate;
  • consult with the appropriate human resource advisor to explore alternative solutions before recommending rejection on probation, recommending demotion of the individual or termination of employment.
  • If the performance problem is serious or persistent, taking action to demote or release the individual if the performance problem is serious or persistent

3. Some individual factors that may influence performance include:

  • personal circumstances (e.g., marital or family difficulties, financial problems, bereavement, etc.);
  • health problems;
  • inappropriate personal behaviours (e.g., interrupting at meetings);
  • the learning methodology used in a learning activity or the timing of the activity; or
  • a mismatch to the job.

When the immediate superior is aware that the employee is facing difficult personal circumstances that might affect his/her ability to meet the performance expectations, the immediate superior has a duty to refer the individual to the Employee Assistance Program (EAP).

Once this referral has been made and the immediate superior has made reasonable efforts to accommodate the individual in the short term, the individual remains responsible for performance. If performance still fails to meet all expectations, the immediate superior should clarify expectations and the consequences of not meeting performance expectations.

4. Organizational and job factors outside the individual's control that may affect his/her ability to meet expectations include:

  • changes in systems or equipment;
  • changes in focus or direction of work, priorities, measurement criteria;
  • changes in learning needs;
  • insufficient resources;
  • a hostile work environment (harassment, discrimination, insensitivity, etc.); and
  • flawed and unrealistic performance expectations (e.g., unattainable or irrelevant expectations).

When the cause of the performance shortfall is related to organizational and job factors outside the individual's control, the immediate superior is responsible for taking action to correct the problem.

5. When the individual's results mostly meet expectations and improvement is required, the activities for developing performance will focus on:

  • reviewing the performance objectives and measurement criteria to ensure they are still realistic;
  • identifying the cause of the performance problem in consultation with the individual;
  • assessing the seriousness of the problem and determining the appropriate action to take;
  • consulting with the appropriate human resource advisor to ensure clear distinctions are made between performance and disciplinary issues; and
  • when appropriate, developing an Action Plan to Improve Performance in consultation with the individual.

6. Action Plan to Improve Performance when an individual's results do not meet expectations

As indicated in the Guidelines on Performance Management for Certain Senior Excluded or Unrepresented Managers and Specialists, in situations where the individual has been assessed at Level 1 (Did Not Meet) it is recommended that the immediate superior develop an Action Plan to Improve Performance, in consultation with the individual, to support and assist him/her to improve performance.

The Action Plan can be prepared and updated at any time during the performance management cycle to address performance problems

An Action Plan to Improve Performance identifies:

  • the performance shortfall and the cause;
  • the specific activities the immediate superior and individual will undertake to correct the problem;
  • the time frames within which the immediate superior and individual will complete the activities;
  • the date on which the immediate superior and individual will follow up to review the results; and
  • evidence of success.

7. How to develop an Action Plan

  • plan to involve the individual in all aspects of discussions.
  • take the time to explore fully the causes of the performance problem.
  • concentrate on the problems that have the greatest negative impact on the individual's performance; do not cover all areas of the individual's performance.
  • identify specific, factual examples to support the discussion about the performance shortfall and allow for dialogue with the individual.
  • develop positive approaches to correcting problems; give the individual an opportunity to suggest solutions before any final decisions are made.
  • be specific about the individual's actions to be taken and your responsibility with supporting the Action Plan
  • maintain a climate conducive to a constructive approach
  • express your confidence about the individual's potential to improve.

Managing Serious or Persistent Performance Problems

If the individual does not meet the requirements of the position, efforts to improve performance fail, and the immediate superior has considered and eliminated all reasonable alternatives to resolve the performance problem with the individual, the immediate superior must consider one of the following options, however this list is not exhaustive:

  • rejection on probation;
  • reassignment to a position which better fits the individual's competencies and interests;
  • appointment of the individual to a lower level; or
  • termination of employment.
  1. Before any action is taken to release the individual on probation, demote, or terminate employment, the manager must have taken the action described in the preceding section, including identifying the cause of the performance problem, providing assistance to the individual, and developing an Action Plan to Improve Performance. The immediate superior must also fully document all actions taken.
  2. At a minimum, the immediate superior must be able to demonstrate that the following responsibilities have been fully met:

    • the duty to act in good faith and in a fair and transparent manner;
    • the duty to inform the individual fully of the requirements of the position;
    • the duty to inform the individual that he/she is not meeting the requirements of the position, the nature of the shortfall, evidence of the shortfall, and the consequences if he/she continues to not meet the requirements of the position;
    • the duty to provide the individual with the opportunity to make the necessary adjustments to meet requirements; and
    • the duty to assist the individual in making these adjustments.
  3. When the immediate superior intends to release the individual during probation or at the end of the probationary period, the immediate superior must ensure proper notification of rejection to the employee.
  4. In every case, the immediate superior must consult with the appropriate staff relations advisor as early as possible to ensure that all legal and regulatory requirements are identified and met, including the provisions of the appropriate collective agreement. Also, the immediate superior must ensure that the rights of the individual are fully respected.

Action Plan to Improve Performance (PDF, 16.25 KB)

Also, refer to the following Treasury Board publications:

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