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UT Dallas - Human Resources

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Coaching, Counseling and Correction

Related Information

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Coaching, counseling and correction describe a progressive approach to applying the University's disciplinary policy. When disciplinary actions are needed, supervisors should adopt a progressive approach to correcting the performance or behavioral issue. For a sample but non exhaustive list of performance and behavioral issues that may result in disciplinary action, please consult section III B of the Discipline and Dismissal policy referenced in the Related Information box on this page.

Generally, speaking a supervisor begins a disciplinary action at the lowest level. If that is unsuccessful in remedying the problem, the supervisor might move to the next level, repeat the same process, or even skip a level. It all would depend upon the facts of the case at hand. In the case of a situation where an employee's performance or behavior has become sufficiently severe, the supervisor may have to implement immediate termination. In such cases, a supervisor must consult with Employee Relations staff before starting dismissal actions against the employee.


Coaching is what it appears to be. A supervisor meets with an employee. The purpose of the meeting is straightforward--performance is not what it should be. The focus of the coaching session is to determine what needs to be done to help the employee improve performance or correct inappropriate workplace behaviors. The supervisor (i.e. the coach) and the employee map out plan of action. The employee implements the plan. The supervisor monitors the process--recognizing success and offering constructive feedback if the performance is still lagging where it should be. A good tool for coaching employees when they are having some performance problems is the performance improvement plan (PIP).


Counseling is similar to coaching in that it shares the same goal, improving performance and/or stopping inappropriate workplace behaviors. With counseling, however, the meeting between the supervisor and the employee takes on a different feel. In such meetings the supervisor attempts to understand and identify the issues contributing to the performance or behavioral problem. Accordingly, in a counseling meeting, the supervisor is focused on listening, verifying their understanding of the problem and engaging in problem solving with the employee. Like the coaching transaction, the supervisor and the employee leave the counseling meeting with a corrective plan in mind. Counseling is letting the employee know that the supervisor takes the issue seriously and wants to help them get past it. At the same time, the message is clear from the supervisor--the employee's performance must improve, behaviors must change or more serious steps will have to be taken.


This part of the disciplinary process features increasingly formal and more serious efforts to correct the problem. Such corrective actions tend to follow a fairly common pattern. The supervisor then escalates the intervention depending upon the response of employee or the seriousness of the issue being addressed.

  • Oral warning - An oral warning is a discussion between the supervisor and the employee which identifies the problem issue and communicates a clear expectation that changes must be forthcoming or more a more serious disciplinary step will follow. The next step does not automatically follow but in many cases an oral warning that is not heeded results in the next step.
  • Written warning - A written warning is a formal document created by the supervisor and given to the employee. The written warning is used when previous efforts to correct the deficient performance or behavior has failed. Depending upon the circumstances, a problem may be sufficiently severe such that a supervisors decides to move directly to a written warning. Written warnings are signed by the employee and supervisor. If witnesses are present, they too sign the warning. A copy of the warning is sent to Human Resources where it is placed in the employees personnel file.
  • Suspension, demotion or dismissal - These three actions represent the most serious steps in the disciplinary process because they result in serious job altering consequences for the employee. Typically, they would be implemented only after the other efforts have been unsuccessful. Separate information about these actions is available on the discipline and dismissal page.

Supervisors must consult with Employee Relations staff before administering any of the above corrective actions. Various forms of technical assistance and training and are available.

Concerning Documentation

Documentation is necessary to support the discipline imposed. Supervisors who can not provide documentation may be asked to defer imposing some disciplinary actions. All the above corrective actions should always be documented. Good documentation is imperative in today's workplace. Contact Employee Relations staff for guidelines on documenting disciplinary actions.

It is the policy of The University of Texas at Dallas to encourage fair, efficient and equitable solutions for problems arising out of the employment relationship and to meet the requirements of state and federal law. The above guidelines and cited policies reflect the efforts of Human Resources to ensure that such actions take place. All Classified and Administrative and Professional staff are at-will employees who serve without tenure. No provision of any UT Dallas policy shall confer rights to employees that are contrary to the employment-at-will doctrine.

Contact Us

Click on the above link to view a list of Employee Relations staff that can assist you.

UT Dallas is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action University