Managing difficult personnel scenarios
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Managing Difficult Personnel Scenarios. Susan Graham, Myra Handy, & Pietro Lynn. Managing Problem Employees. Public employment v. private employment At will employment Constitutional rights and Loudermill process Discipline for just cause for union and non-union employees

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Managing Difficult Personnel Scenarios

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Managing difficult personnel scenarios

Managing Difficult Personnel Scenarios

Susan Graham, Myra Handy, &

Pietro Lynn


Managing problem employees

Managing Problem Employees

  • Public employment v. private employment

  • At will employment

  • Constitutional rights and Loudermill process

  • Discipline for just cause for union and non-union employees

  • Evaluation as a tool to support discipline


Public employment

Public Employment

  • Property Interest in employment triggers constitutional guarantees

  • Loudermill due process requirements

  • Pre-deprivation hearing (informal)

  • Post deprivation hearing (impartial hearing body, right to attorney, cross examination)

  • Consequences for failure to follow procedures


Hiring letters to maintain at will status

Hiring Letters to Maintain At-Will Status

  • You are hired

  • You will be paid per hour/salary

  • If your employment ends before the end of the year, you will be paid on a pro rata basis


Just cause to support discipline

Just Cause to Support Discipline

  • Reasonable to discharge given conduct. Focus on how others treated for same. Absent comparison, use common sense.

  • Important to have evenhanded application of rules.

  • Fair notice was given to the employee that the conduct could lead to termination


How to determine just cause

How to Determine Just Cause

  • Punishment must fit the crime—Proportionality

  • Factors to consider: (1) longevity with district; (2) staleness of the performance problems;(3) consistency with other actions with the employee;(4) consistency with action against other employees; and (5)the severity of the infraction

  • Misconduct v. Negligent Performance


Progressive discipline for negligent performance

Progressive Discipline for Negligent Performance

  • Right to hear criticisms

  • Right to have an opportunity to improve

  • Right to have reasonable supports to assist in improvement

  • Right to have a reasonable period of time to improve

  • Right to have a fair evaluator


Strategies for progressive discipline

Strategies For Progressive Discipline

  • Identify weaknesses with specificity

  • Do not be overly concerned with balance, but seem fair

  • Discuss process followed each step of the way (review and mention old evaluations and disciplinary materials)

  • Think about what you can offer to support the teacher (even though it will not make a real difference)


Strategies for progressive discipline continued

Strategies for Progressive Discipline (continued)

  • Consider timing and sequence

  • Poor evaluation (Spring)

  • Intensive Plan (following year)

  • How long does the plan have to last?

  • What is the magic language? (importance of skill set lacking, why it must improve for educational purposes, negative impact of poor performance on education)


Evaluation 1

Evaluation (1)

  • Documentation is critical. Must have consistency across evaluation, across time (prior evaluations), across employee population

  • Example of evaluation. Evaluation issues: Numerical or narrative, deliver bad news early and often, how to respond to employee claims of impropriety? how long does it take to create just cause? Self appraisal is helpful


Evaluation 2 verbal warning

Evaluation (2)—Verbal Warning

  • Joe, you need to do a better job with you lesson plans

  • Is this any discipline at all?

  • If so, how do you document?

  • Must it go into the teacher’s file?

  • What if it does not go into file? Is it effective?


Evaluation 3

Evaluation (3)

  • Conducts teaching activities consistent with expectations: Joe has a wonderful way with the students. He seems very committed to them and I applaud him for that. He must, however, work on his willingness to take direction. That too is very important.


Evaluation 4

Evaluation (4)

  • Professional Development Plan: I will be meeting with Joe once a week to discuss his progress. I will provide him with feedback on his performance and guidance on how to improve.


Evaluation 5

Evaluation (5)

  • Employee’s Response: Administrator hates me and is lying in the evaluation for purely personal reasons.

  • How do you deal with that?


Evaluation 6

Evaluation (6)

  • Joe refuses to sign the evaluation. Joe says he disagrees with it so he does not need to sign

  • How does Administrator respond?


Evaluation 7

Evaluation (7)

  • Explanation of expectation in quantifiable terms

  • Metrics for evaluation (cooperation as measured by input from others)

  • No rush to judgment/make paper trail

  • Invitation to respond in writing

  • Be aware of ADA, FEPA and VPFLA issues if raised (I can’t concentrate because I am deeply depressed)


Evaluation 8

Evaluation (8)

  • Gets better in criticized areas and gets worse in other areas

  • What do you do?

  • Magic language: Our concern is your competence as a teacher. We will be pleased to see improvement in the identified areas of weakness. However, if you fail to meet our expectations for competence in other areas while improving in those we have identified as needing improvement such that you are still not meeting our expectation for overall performance, you will be disciplined, up to and including termination.


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