If a problem persists, the supervisor may wish to orally counsel the employee. Oral counseling is not disciplinary action.

How to orally counsel an employee:

The supervisor and employee meet with adequate time to devote to the discussion, in a quiet space where matters may be discussed confidentially. The supervisor recounts any previous discussions that were held and explains that this conversation is an “oral counseling session” and that the discussion will be documented as such – typically in a supervisor’s working file or log – these notes do not belong in an Official Personnel File.

The supervisor should engage the employee in a discussion of the problem(s), provide detailed advice on how to improve, and seek the employee’s cooperation in improving the behavior or performance to meet the supervisor’s stated expectations.

If the performance does not improve within a reasonable period of time, the supervisor may wish to consider issuing a written counseling memorandum. Written counseling is not a disciplinary action but it is an official document that will be placed in the employee’s Official Personnel File.

A written counseling memorandum should clearly set forth the problematic performance and the expectations for improvement. It may be helpful to give concrete examples of the performance problems, along with suggestions for improvement.

An employee has the right to respond in writing to a written counseling memorandum. The document should provide the employee with notice about this right; specifically, an employee who receives a written counseling memorandum has the right to respond in writing within five calendar days of receipt of the document. The response should be attached to the counseling memorandum and placed with it in the employee’s Official Personnel File.; Do not forget to notate on the document that a copy will be placed in the Official Personnel File.


This information is only a summary. Please refer to source documents or contact your personnel office with specific questions.