Performance Accountability and Commitment
VANDERBILT UNIVERSITY HUMAN RESOURCES POLICIES AND PROCEDURES
SUBJECT: PERFORMANCE ACCOUNTABILITY AND COMMITMENT
EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2015
UPDATED: June 1, 2023
POLICY STATEMENT/ REASON FOR POLICY
The purpose of this policy is to outline the process for assisting employees in improving inadequate or inconsistent performance and the steps that are taken if sufficient improvement does not occur. In contrast to the Progressive Discipline policy, this policy is designed to provide a structured corrective action process to improve and prevent recurrence of undesirable behavior and performance issues while addressing non-compliance with performance expectations.
THIS POLICY APPLIES TO
This policy applies to all staff.
Vanderbilt is committed to providing employees with the reasonable resources needed to be successful in their jobs. Employees must demonstrate commitment to their jobs through at least satisfactory performance. In addition to performing the functions of the job, employees are also expected to demonstrate professional interactions with others. At times, employees may experience difficulty in meeting the expectations of their positions. Generally, Vanderbilt will provide an opportunity for the employee to make and sustain the necessary improvement through additional coaching, training, and supervision.
Performance Accountability and Commitment Plan
Employees not meeting performance expectations will be placed on a Performance Accountability and Commitment Plan. In most cases, addressing the performance problems will start with coaching and then progress, if needed. HR Consultants will assist supervisors in seeking the best outcomes from this process and must be consulted. If coaching does not achieve the desired goals an employee may be placed on a written plan. If improvement does not occur at this step, an employee will be placed on a final plan. Ultimately, if the employee does not meet the required expectations, after the progressive steps described above have been taken, termination of employment may occur. Each step in the performance accountability and commitment process is intended to be progressive; however, there may be situations where the severity or impact of the unacceptable performance will warrant moving immediately to a written plan, a final plan or the termination of employment. HR Consultant must be consulted to determine appropriate level of action to be taken based on the circumstances involved.
Success in demonstrating and maintaining the necessary improvement will require a commitment by the employee to make the improvements. Employees are encouraged to contribute to the Performance Accountability and Commitment Plan by offering steps and types of support they believe will help them.
Situations may arise where an individual employee is receiving direction and correction under both the Progressive Discipline Policy and the Performance Accountability and Commitment Policy. In these situations, the totality of the circumstances will be assessed when determining further action. For example, if an employee has received a written discipline warning for unprofessional behavior and later has performance concerns, they would be placed on a final Performance Accountability and Commitment Plan. The supervisor must consult with Human Resources prior to implementing disciplinary action. Vanderbilt reserves the right to combine or skip steps depending on the facts of each situation and nature of performance concerns.
Examples of inadequate performance covered by this policy include, but are not limited to:
- Lack of professionalism in delivery of service, quality of communication and demeanor
- Pattern of inaccuracy in performance of essential duties
- Pattern of neglecting parts of one’s job
- Frequent substantiated colleague, student, or customer complaints
- Failure to manage time and meet reasonable deadlines
- Lack of teamwork
Time for Improvement and Sustaining the Improvement
The duration of the Performance Accountability and Commitment Plan will depend on many factors, including type of position, clarity or severity of the issue and assessment of likelihood of improvement. In the Written Performance Accountability and Commitment Plan, employees will be given at least 30 days to demonstrate the required improvement. The Final Performance Accountability and Commitment Plan will generally provide no more than 30 days to demonstrate and sustain improvement. While the plan will include a timeframe, there may be situations where the severity or impact of the unacceptable performance will warrant moving immediately to a written plan, a final plan or the termination of employment. The HR Consultant must be consulted to determine appropriate level of action to be taken based on the circumstances involved.
An employee must have demonstrated improvement for the duration of the Performance Accountability and Commitment Plan, therefore, should the employee be away from work for an extended and continuous period of time under any Vanderbilt University leave policy, the performance plan may be extended equal to the time the employee was on leave. Extending the Performance Accountability and Commitment Plan should be done in consultation with Human Resources.
Even when an employee succeeds in substantially meeting expectations within the defined timeframe, and extra supervision and oversight are no longer required, the content of the performance feedback remains relevant into the future. The improvements made during the Performance Accountability and Commitment Plan must be sustained by the employee going forward. Should the same problems recur, within a 12-month timeframe, the employee may progress to the next level of the Performance Accountability and Commitment Plan.
New Employee Orientation Period
Vanderbilt utilizes a new employee orientation period for newly hired employees. This orientation period provides the new employee an opportunity to acclimate to their new position at Vanderbilt and provides the supervisor an opportunity to develop and assess the skills of the new employee. Non-exempt employees have a ninety-day orientation period, where exempt employees have a six-month orientation period following the date of hire. Internal transfers and promotions are not subject to an orientation period.
In the event job performance is concerning or unsatisfactory, during the orientation period, the supervisor should promptly coach the new employee. If the concerns continue, the supervisor, in consultation with their HR Consultant, should give the employee written notice of the deficiency and explain how the performance or conduct needs to improve in order to continue employment. If the concerns continue, employment may be terminated. There may be situations where the severity or impact of the unacceptable performance will warrant moving immediately to termination of employment. The HR Consultant must be consulted to determine appropriate level of action to be taken based on the circumstances involved.
Extension of Orientation
If an employee’s performance or conduct does not meet the expectation set by the supervisor and there has not been enough opportunity to evaluate the employee’s performance the supervisor, in consultation with their HR Consultant, may extend the period of orientation up to an additional ninety days.
Impact of Written or Final Performance Accountability and Commitment Plan
The employee is required to share with the hiring manager, prior to the job offer, the content and expectations of the written or final Performance Accountability and Commitment Plan. This information may be a deciding factor in the hiring decision. Failure to disclose a disciplinary action prior to accepting an offer of transfer may also result in additional discipline, up to and including the termination of employment.
Employees on a final Performance Accountability and Commitment Plan during the evaluation period are not eligible for an annual increase. Employees on a written Performance Accountability and Commitment Plan may not be eligible for an annual increase. At the manager’s discretion and in consultation with the HR Consultant, an increase for an employee who has been on a Written Performance plan during the evaluation period may be considered provided they have significantly met and sustained performance expectations.
Resources Available to Employees
If an employee believes the facts and circumstances upon which the Performance Accountability and Commitment Plan is based are inaccurate or incomplete, the employee may request a meeting with the immediate supervisor or the department leader. The employee may also request a conversation with their supervisor that is facilitated by Human Resources.
If an employee believes there was a procedural flaw related to the administration of a Performance Accountability and Commitment Plan, the dispute resolution process is available.
If there are allegations of a violation of the Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action Policy, Anti-Harassment Policy, or retaliation, the employee should contact the Office of Equal Access and Opportunity (EOA).
This policy is not intended to apply to statements or actions protected under Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act.
Nothing in this policy provides any contractual rights regarding employee discipline or counseling, nor should anything in this policy be read or construed as modifying or altering the employment-at-will relationship between Vanderbilt University and its employees.
When an employee moves to another position within Vanderbilt University.
New employees are subject to an orientation period. Non-exempt employees have a ninety-day orientation period, where exempt employees have a six-month orientation period following the date of hire. Internal transfers are not subject to an orientation period.
CONSEQUENCES OF NON-COMPLIANCE
Violation of this policy may result in disciplinary action, up to and including termination of employment.
These are the procedures for the Performance Accountability and Commitment Policy. Please review the following link for the Performance Accountability and Commitment Policy.
The steps below are designed to help employees develop and improve performance while maintaining accountability. The time given to each step should take into account the complexity or newness of the position or tasks, workplace circumstances, and organizational impact. All steps of the Performance Accountability and Commitment Plan process should be documented in consultation with Human Resources.
Step 1 – Coaching
Supervisors should communicate expectations for improvement clearly and in a timely manner. They should be prepared:
· to be direct and as specific as possible in identifying deficiencies or incidences and their significance
· to give employees examples of what "success" looks like in their role
· to give the employee a chance to assess their own capacity and commitment to a position
· to problem-solve with employees who are attempting to fulfill their job obligations
· to identify the process for on-going assessment of improvement
· to assess tools, systems and any recent changes in workload or areas of responsibility
· if necessary, to explain the consequences of failure to improve within a fairly established timeline
· to keep notes on the content and date of the conversation
Step 2 – Written Performance Accountability and Commitment Plan
If coaching does not lead to improved performance or behavior, or if the issues at stake are considered severe, the supervisor should outline expectations in a written performance plan to the employee, making it clear that the employee’s success in the position is the goal of this action. The supervisor should work with the HR Consultant regarding the performance plan. This document should include the schedule for supervisory feedback and employee self-reporting, for instance, frequency of meetings, supplementary review of work product, etc.
Step 3 – Final Performance Accountability and Commitment Plan
If the above verbal coaching and written Performance Accountability and Commitment Plan do not lead to improvement in a timely manner, or an issue is determined to be so severe and to have such a significant impact that moving directly to a final performance plan is necessary, the supervisor must work with Human Resources Consultant to determine next steps, including creating a final Performance Accountability and Commitment Plan outlining expectations and consequences if expectations are not met, up to and including termination of employment. The document should state the problem(s), options, expectations, timeframe for assessment and consequences, etc.
Step 4 – Termination of Employment
In the event performance does not improve to meet expectations, employment may be terminated. The supervisor must work with Human Resources prior to making the decision to end employment.
Notice of extension should be given to the employee in writing. This extension provides additional time to evaluate whether the individual meets expectations. The supervisor should outline in writing to the employee why the orientation is being extended. This extension provides additional time to evaluate whether the individual meets expectations. At the end of the extension, the supervisor should discuss with the employee their performance and notify them in writing that their orientation period has been completed, if appropriate.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Phone / Website
Human Resources, HR Consulting
Disclaimer: The policies and procedures that guide employment practices are intended to assist in consistent administration and compliance. Vanderbilt reserves the right to modify its policies and practices, in whole or in part, at any time. Revisions to existing policies and procedures, and the development of new policies and procedures, will be made from time to time at the discretion of the University. When new policies are implemented or existing policies are revised, the University will notify members of the University community as soon as practicable. However, where differences occur, the most recent policy as reviewed and approved by the University will take precedence. Policies are not intended to apply to statements or actions protected under Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act. (NLRA) The policies and procedures do not create a contract, implied or expressed, with at-will employees at Vanderbilt.