Human Resources

Supervision: Evaluation, Counseling, and Discipline

This section provides supervisors with important tools to enhance their leadership roles, and to provide for an orderly and productive workplace.

Rights of Supervisors Top


The rights of supervisors include the right to assign work to employees under their supervision consistent with job classifications, the right to hold subordinates accountable for the work assigned, and the right to evaluate how effectively such subordinates perform. They also have the authority to approve and disapprove requests for time off in accordance with both organizational and employee needs.

Responsibilities of Supervisors  Top

The responsibilities of supervisors include becoming familiar with the attendance rules which affect the employees they supervise and the collective bargaining agreement(s) that pertain to them. It also includes the application of these rules in a fair and consistent manner. All employees should be instructed on the rules, should be given their appropriate share of the assigned work, and should be evaluated on the basis of how well they perform. Supervisors are responsible for assuring that subordinates know how to do their work safely, and do so, and that they have the materials, tools, and other means necessary to perform their work at a satisfactory level. Supervisors are also responsible for ensuring that employees are aware of the "peaks and valleys" related to the work load in their unit, for advising them of heavy work load periods when approval of requests for time off will be limited, and to the extent possible, for identifying periods when overtime assignments will likely be required.

Supervisors should constantly remind themselves that the inconsistent application of work rules, especially attendance rules, and the uneven distribution of work are major factors in the creation of low morale among employees. When these negative morale factors exist, they have an impact within a particular work unit, and within the total organization, as employees compare their relative treatment to other departmental employees and/or to employees in other organizational units.

Resources for Supervisors  Top

The resources for supervisors include copies of collective bargaining agreements, policies, and procedures, as appropriate; the leadership of their own supervisors; and the staff of the Office of Human Resources Management, OHRM. Additional "tools" are available which can greatly assist supervisors in meeting their obligations if these tools are properly used. They include performance evaluation, counseling, and discipline. The Office of Human Resources also has information available on training programs for supervisors and subordinates.

Rules of Supervisors  Top

The rules for supervisors at the University at Albany include the New York State Civil Service Law, the Attendance Rules for Classified Civil Service, the Policies of the Board of Trustees of the State University of New York, the labor agreements with the various negotiating units to which state positions have been assigned, and locally established policies and procedures.

Performance Programs and Evaluations  Top

The evaluation of an employee’s performance is an on-going process in which the supervisor "coaches" subordinate employees on how well they are meeting performance expectations.

The process begins with the development of a performance program which outlines the major requirements/objectives of the subordinate employee's job and the standards by which performance will be considered acceptable.  A performance program is a brief, written summary of the employee’s duties, responsibilities and role within the particular unit where they work.  A useful tool in establishing the program is the NYS Classification Standard for the particular job title.  That Standard serves as a guide for the essential level of the title, whereas the program will set forth the key duties and objectives of the position.  A NYS standard performance evaluation form can be found on this website, but a supervisor can attach a narrative document.

Each of the collective bargaining agreements provides that an employee is entitled to an annual performance program and performance evaluation.  Aside from the contractual obligation, this process makes good business sense as they represent valuable tools for a constructive communication process and to fulfill the need for the orderly administration of the work place.

Throughout the performance period, the supervisor should periodically meet individually with subordinates to discuss how well they are performing and coach those who are not meeting expectations on how they may improve. At the end of the performance period, the supervisor must prepare a formal evaluation, excluding the assignment of a performance rating, and meet with the subordinate to discuss how well he/she has performed in each performance area including discussion of particular strengths or weaknesses. Thereafter, the supervisor must meet with his/her supervisor to determine the appropriate performance rating for the employee.

Once the final rating has been approved, the supervisor again must meet with the subordinate employee to share this information. Performance evaluation is an effective tool if it is properly utilized. However, supervisors must have the courage to rate the employees on the basis of their actual performance if the total work force is to remain motivated by his/her leadership. Performance evaluation is not the place for statements relating to concerns about the proper classification of positions. Statements in performance evaluations such as "Susan Doe does the work of three secretaries", or "Maintenance Assistant John Doe is really doing the work of a Carpenter" are inappropriate in the evaluation process. If an assignment has changed significantly enough to warrant a classification review, the supervisor should contact Human Resources to discuss the matter and possibly conduct such a review. However, the performance evaluation should address only how well the employee performs the assignments established in the performance program.  The performance program can be amended during the year if duties change. If this occurs, the supervisor should meet with the employee to review the changes and adjust the written program accordingly.

All of the various performance evaluation systems used in the state service include the ratings of satisfactory or effective or unsatisfactory, and some include a broader menu of ratings including highly effective, outstanding, and needs improvement. Most employees should fall into the satisfactory/effective category. Evaluations containing statements which indicate significant problems with the employee's work should contain the "unsatisfactory" rating. Usually such employees would have also received counseling about their poor performance at various times throughout the year. Where still applicable, the rating of "highly effective" should be reserved for employees who always meet performance expectations including a good attitude towards their work, the college, their supervisors, and their fellow workers, and a good attendance record. "Outstanding" ratings should be reserved for only those employees who demonstrate levels of exceptional expertise, dedication, and commitment to their jobs and the goals of the college and whose performance clearly stands out above the work of others in the work unit and/or in similar positions at the University.

Please review our procedures for completing programs and evaluations here.

Counseling  Top

Counseling is a private supervisory conference between a supervisor or other administrative officer and a subordinate employee at which the employee's performance deficiencies are discussed. It is a communication tool between the supervisor and subordinate, utilized to improve the employee's performance, address performance deficiencies, and make certain that the employee understands work rules and expectations. The emphasis in counseling is prospective. The counseling session may mention performance problems and deficiencies but should not dwell on them. Instead counseling should dwell on future performance expectations and the special efforts the supervisor will be taking to make the employee accountable. A Counseling Memorandum is a written follow-up to an employee following a face-to-face counseling session which confirms the reason for the counseling, a summary of the effect of the employee's deficiencies, a summary of the employee's response to the counseling, and a statement of the corrective actions expected. Counseling memoranda normally should not be written without the actual face-to-face counseling session which allows the subordinate to respond and describe any special problems in his/her life or in the work environment which might be contributing to his/her poor performance. Counseling Memoranda should not include language which would cause them to be interpreted as disciplinary reprimands. For additional assistance with conducting a counseling session, please contact Human Resources.

Discipline  Top

Discipline is action taken against an employee for misconduct or incompetence when other efforts (i.e. evaluation/counseling) fail or when a single incident is so severe as to warrant it. When a supervisor believes discipline is warranted because he/she has already counseled an employee about a particular problem and the employee has not responded, or because a particular incident is so severe as to warrant it, the supervisor should not further counsel the employee, but, instead, should advise Human Resources of the problem and seek assistance. The Human Resources Office will conduct an investigation, and if necessary initiate progressive disciplinary procedures, in accordance with the collective bargaining agreements. If formal disciplinary charges are deemed necessary, Human Resources will initiate a Notice of Discipline, which includes a proposed penalty. The Agreements provide employees with an appeal process. 

Discipline is generally considered as a progressive measure with the hope that the employee's behavior/performance will improve, but with the understanding that more severe penalties will be proposed, up to and including termination, if the employee does not respond. Whereas counseling is prospective, concentrating on providing guidance for the employee's future performance, discipline is retrospective, concentrating on past misconduct or incompetence. Discipline imposes penalties for failure to perform properly; counseling attempts to instruct the employee toward improving their performance and making them clearly aware of their supervisor's performance expectations so that they can avoid discipline in the future. Fortunately, most employees will respond properly and correct their performance deficiencies when advised to do so by their supervisors. However, when employees do not respond and continue to perform in an unacceptable manner, even after counseling, supervisors should not hesitate to recommend disciplinary action.

Attendance and Leave Information  Top


Supervisors are reminded that they may claim the services of their subordinates from the beginning of their shifts until the end of their shifts and during other times when overtime services might be warranted. Employees can be held fully accountable for all the time that they are on duty. No employee has the right to leave his/her assigned work without the specific approval of his/her supervisor unless a situation exists which places his/her health or safety in immediate jeopardy. Supervisors must maintain adequate enough control over the attendance of subordinates to verify that subordinates have completed the required number of hours on duty each day, or have been approved for and recorded charges to appropriate leave accruals.  For assistance with time and attendance issues, please contact the Time Records Unit or Employee Relations in the Office of Human Resources.