HRDG 4430 - Performance Management - Section F

HRDG 4430 - Performance Management - Section F

Subchapter 4430
Performance Management 

Section F - Addressing Unacceptable Performance



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Introduction This section provides guidance on what to do if an employee's performance is determined to be unacceptable.

Performance cases can be processed under 5 Code of Federal Regulations, Part 432. (Performance)

Link to Employee Relations webpage. (Employees Only)
Notifying the Employee 

If addressing poor performance supervisors need to identify and document the problem, before a Performance Improvement Plan (PIP) is put into place. Documentation should include:

  1. Job instructions, SOPs, guidelines and regulations, training, counseling, discussions, cautions, and feedback given to the employee,
  2. Specific examples of how standards were not met, and
  3. What the employee needs to do to improve the deficient performance.


The supervisor should also work with the employee to improve his/her performance utilizing tools such as coaching, on-the-job assistance, and formal training.

If an employee's performance at any time during the rating cycle is determined to be unacceptable in one or more critical elements , the supervisor must notify the employee, in writing, of the critical element(s) for which performance is unacceptable; and inform the employee of the performance requirement that must be attained to demonstrate acceptable performance.

Performance Improvement Plan (PIP) 

For each critical element in which employee performance is determined to be unacceptable, the supervisor must provide the employee a reasonable opportunity to demonstrate acceptable performance, which is appropriate for the responsibilities of the employee's position, and place the employee on a PIP.

The PIP must clearly identify and describe the performance deficiencies in the performance elements and standards for which the employee's performance is at the unacceptable level. The supervisor should inform the employee that unless his/her performance in the critical element(s) improves and is sustained at an acceptable level, the employee may be reassigned, reduced in grade, or removed.

Overview of the PIP Process 

The following table describes what happens when an employee is placed on a PIP:

Stage: What happens: 
1 The critical elements are examined to ensure that they are measurable. If not, they are changed to make the critical elements measurable. The employee is given 90 days to become acclimated to the new performance elements before being placed on a PIP.
2 The employee must be given at least 60 days to demonstrate improved performance when the PIP is put in place and the opportunity period begins.
3 If the employee demonstrates an acceptable level of performance during his/her opportunity period, then he/or she is required to maintain an acceptable level of performance for one year from the beginning of the opportunity period.
4 If the employee does not demonstrate an acceptable level of performance for a critical element during the opportunity period or for one year from the beginning of the opportunity period, the supervisor may initiate a reassignment, reduction in grade, or removal action.


Additional Guidance  The above requirements to establish a Performance Improvement Plan exclude employees as listed in 5 CFR, Section 432.102(f) including employees in the competitive service who are serving a probationary or trial period under an initial appointment.

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