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Effective Counseling Memos

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Effective Counseling Memos

  1. 1. Writing Effective Counseling Memos Carlos R. Perez, Jr. Assistant to the Superintendent for Administration & Human Resources Roslyn Public Schools Presented by: Michael G. McAlvin, Esq. Partner, Ingerman Smith, LLP
  2. 2. What is Counseling • Direct face-to-face conversation between a supervisor and a direct report • Used to help the employee identify the reason for poor performance to improve, not embarrass or humiliate him or her • Generally more formal than feedback and coaching and is required of a small percentage of employees
  3. 3. Purpose of Counseling • Communicate concerns to the employee • Determine the cause of the employee’s activities or behavior • Identify avenues for improvement and/or development • Improve employee performance
  4. 4. Counseling vs. Reprimand Counseling • Face-to-face communication • Conducted by supervisor • Usually, first form of action Reprimand • Penalization • Conducted by Human Resources • Typically, second form of action (if counseling fails) • Threat of 3020A
  5. 5. Role of the Supervisor • Balance organizational needs with employee rights on a daily basis • Inform employees of their performance on the job • Ensure work is being completed at acceptable levels
  6. 6. Causes of Failure of Accomplishment at Work • The employee does not know how • Lack of instruction or feedback. • Something or someone is hindering work output • Physical or mental restrictions, time or equipment restrictions • Attitude • Poor attitude, employee is “burned-out” or unhappy, or does not particularly enjoy the task.
  7. 7. Consequences of Failing to Take Action • Increased workload • Department morale affected • The employee may never see the problem • Problem is reinforced as acceptable
  8. 8. When to Counsel • When more action is required by the supervisor following feedback and coaching • Re-establish Expectations • Not all unacceptable behavior warrants discipline: Usually minor infractions, or case of first offense by a long term employee require counseling
  9. 9. The Counseling Process: Before the Session • Define your objectives. • Have all documentation available • Review all facts • Create an outline • Arrange for privacy • Verbally inform the employee in person and in private what the meeting is about, and where and when it is to take place
  10. 10. The Counseling Process: Session Guidelines How you behave and what you say during the session can affect the outcome •Set a positive tone •Describe the problem •Ask, then listen •Correct the situation •Listen •Conclude the session
  11. 11. The Counseling Process: Minimizing Conflict • Counsel in a timely manner • Counsel in private • Look for the root cause of the problem • Listen. Do not interrupt • Show sincere interest in the employee • If you can help, offer it, do it
  12. 12. Writing a Memo: Decision • When making the decision about whether or not to write a counseling memo, consider if any of the following are present: • Previous counseling has failed to bring improvement • You have little or no confidence that the employee will correct the problem without further encouragement • The seriousness of the situation requires it. • A multi-step plan for improvement is designed and the memo can serve as a written confirmation and reminder • Is it important to have a written record in official personnel file (sunset dates per CBA)
  13. 13. The Counseling Process: Writing a Memo • A structured account of the counseling session that details what was said and by whom • Summarizes the performance improvement process and notes when the follow-up session will be held • The employee must be informed during the counseling session if a counseling memo will be issued and documented in their personal history folder
  14. 14. Writing a Memo: Format • Address to the employee • Be concise and clear • Tone should be supportive and factual • Date and sign the memo • Include signature line for recipient to acknowledge receipt • Include all others who will receive a copy (cc:), including the employee’s personnel folder
  15. 15. Drafting a Memo: • Date, time, and place of the counseling session • State purpose of discussion, including the background which led for the need for the session • State reason for the memo • Identify what the employee should be doing, what rules are not being followed, and what pattern has been developed
  16. 16. Writing a Memo: Content, cont’d. • The employee’s response • Identify improvement plan and performance expectations • Include provisions for follow-up consultations Failure to follow these steps or to include all required elements may result in the counseling memo being invalid and removed from the personal file.
  17. 17. The Counseling Process: After the Session • Document: Write a memo, if appropriate • Immediacy: Whatever you decide to do after the session, do it immediately after the session – do not wait which can cloud your recollection of the events of the session • Allow for employee rebuttal if requested • Schedule a follow-up consultation • Continue to monitor performance