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A counseling session is a meeting between the supervisor and the employee which may focus on a specific incident, a particular aspect of an employee's performance which the supervisor has identified as needing improvement, or the employee's overall performance or conduct. The counseling process is initiated and executed at the department level by the supervisor and is not discipline. It is a face-to-face communication between the supervisor and the employee, conducted in private, and is intended to have a constructive goal of providing feedback to the employee to correct the problem.

If the counseling session is to be confirmed in a written memo after it takes place, generally you must inform the employee during the session that you will be writing a memorandum summarizing the discussion which will be placed in the employee's official personnel file.

Note: For matters concerning Research Foundation employees, contact the Employee and Labor Relations department for guidance.

Guidelines for a Counseling Session
  • Speak to the employee, on a timely basis, about the specific reason for the counseling session.
  • Describe specific, observable, measurable and/or unacceptable conduct. Be prepared, have the facts in hand before you meet.
  • State the effect of the problem on the work environment or on the employee's performance.
  • Ask for the individual's perception of the problem and what is causing it. Encourage the employee to speak freely and candidly and listen to the information given. Keep an open mind.
  • Ask the employee for potential solutions after you have explained what is acceptable work. Consider all options.
  • If you think it is necessary, add your ideas also. Give the employee a reason to improve work attitude. Offer suggestions (for example, EAP) to help the employee improve/change conduct.
  • Reach an understanding on a corrective action.
  • Make sure you and the employee know what is expected of each other.
  • Identify follow-up steps and dates. Meet again with the employee to review performance. Recognize improvements that have occurred.
  • Incorporate unacceptable work performance in performance evaluation.

Guidelines for Writing a Counseling Memo accompanied with samples

Note: These guidelines are intended only to be a general framework for counseling and may not be appropriate under all circumstances. Please contact Labor Relations for assistance and guidance.

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