Performance Improvement Plan

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This directive is for internal use only and does not enlarge an employee’s civil liability in any way. The directive should not be construed as creating a higher duty of care, in an evidentiary sense, with respect to third party civil claims against employees. Violations of this directive, if proven, can only form the basis of a complaint by the San Juan County Sheriff’s Office for non-judicial administrative action in accordance with the rules and laws governing employee discipline.
DIRECTIVE TYPE: POLICY SUBJECT: Performance Improvement Plan NUMBER: PERS-523.00
APPROVED BY: Sheriff Ken Christesen EFFECTIVE DATE: 8/14/2016
NMLEA STANDARDS: Not Applicable LAST MODIFIED: 7/21/2016 LAST REVIEW: 7/21/2016


Performance improvement plans can be an effective means to provide struggling employees the opportunity to succeed while holding them accountable for past performance. Oftentimes, the reasoning behind an employee’s lack of performance is not obvious. The development of a performance improvement plan assists with identifying causes of poor performance and in the creation of actionable steps to correct and prevent further occurrences.

The purpose of this policy is to establish a uniform process for addressing specific job performance-related issues or behavior-related concerns.


It is the policy of the San Juan County Sheriff’s Office to monitor employee performance utilizing sound management and leadership practices. When a specific job performance-related issue or behavior-related concern is identified, supervisors may utilize a performance improvement plan to assist the employee in identifying, correcting, and preventing further performance problems.


The following definitions shall apply for the purposes of this policy:

  • Employee Assistance Program – A free service provided by San Juan County for matrimonial counseling, psychological counseling, and/or drug and alcohol counseling.

  • Performance Improvement Plan – A formal process used by supervisors to help employees improve performance or modify behavior. May also be referred to as a PIP.

  • Performance Interview – An interview performed by a supervisor with an employee after noting poor performance and when no causal factors have been identified or a clear pattern of behavior or significant event has been recognized.


A performance improvement plan may be utilized after an employee has demonstrated a pattern of behavior of poor performance or a single significant incident related to negative performance.

Through established methods, Sheriff’s Office supervisors will periodically evaluate employees work performance. The supervisor will investigate indicators of poor performance in an attempt to identify specific reasons for the behavior. If those reasons are related to shift, special assignments, attending training, vacations, etc., the supervisor may take no action. If a supervisor is unable to identify any acceptable causal factors for the poor performance, and a performance improvement plan is deemed appropriate, he or she will utilize the following steps in an effort to help the employee improve.


The supervisor will conduct a performance interview with the employee. During this interview, the employee will be afforded the opportunity to explain his or her perceptions or reasons for the poor performance. If the reasons can be attributed to personal issues, the supervisor may refer the employee to the Employee Assistance Program (EAP). In some cases, the supervisor may decide the interview is sufficient in which the employee acknowledged their pattern of behavior and agreed to make improvements on their own. The performance interview will be documented by the administering supervisor on the Sheriff’s Office Intranet system. This interview may be considered a verbal warning in progressive discipline.


Upon completion of the performance interview, or upon discovery of continued behavior previously documented, it may be decided that a performance improvement plan be implemented as a formal means in which to provide the employee with specific performance enhancing tools, expectations, and consequences. The performance improvement plan will also identify specific tools to be utilized to help the employee improve their performance depending on the specific issues identified in the performance interview.

The first step in developing a performance improvement plan is for the supervisor to document the areas of the employee’s performance that need improvement. In documenting the main performance issues, the supervisor should be objective, factual and specific, and provide facts and examples to clarify the severity or pattern of performance concerns. At a minimum, the performance improvement plan should include a description of the performance gap, expected performance, consequences, a plan of action, and an achievement/completion date.

When developing a plan of action, supervisors are encouraged to work collaboratively with the employee to aid in identifying areas of confusion and to encourage ownership of the issue by the employee. The supervisor should determine if the employee needs any additional resources, time, training, or coaching to meet the objectives. The plan should identify exactly what management will do or provide to assist the employee in achieving these goals.

The resource or tool utilized to assist the employee is situationally dependent. In no particular order, resources or tools that may be put into effect by a supervisor include, but are not limited to:

  • Attend specific training related to the issue that may be causing the poor performance;
  • Assignment to an field training officer or other employee for a remedial training period;
  • Change of district/division assignment;
  • Daily logs;
  • Assignment to the Performance Standard Program (specific to patrol, the deputy will have to maintain the shift point average consecutively for the determined amount of time);
  • Suspension from specialty positions;
  • Professional counseling; and/or
  • Light duty.

Supervisors will document the performance improvement plan on the Performance Improvement Plan form (Attachment A). The performance improvement plan must be signed by the issuing supervisor and will be reviewed and signed by the supervising lieutenant, captain, or civilian operations supervisor.

Once developed, the supervisor will review the performance improvement plan with the employee. During this meeting, supervisors must clearly lay out the areas for improvement and the plan of action.


The implementation of a performance improvement plan without adequate follow-up will prove to be ineffective. Supervisors issuing a performance improvement plan to an employee are responsible for any follow-up required. An exception to this would be the reassignment of an employee who is on a performance improvement plan at the time of reassignment. In these cases, the performance improvement plan should be passed on to the next supervisor along with a detailed debrief of the performance concerns, actions implemented, and the time frame for re-evaluation. Documentation of this will be attached to the performance improvement plan.

After the implementation of the performance improvement plan, supervisors will closely monitor and evaluate the employee’s progress and document any positive or negative changes in performance. The employee and supervisor should establish regular follow-up meetings (weekly, biweekly or monthly), which may be outlined in the performance improvement plan. These meetings should discuss and document progress toward objectives.

At the conclusion of a performance improvement plan period, recommendations should be made to include release from the performance improvement plan, extending the employee in the performance improvement plan, or invoking the progressive discipline process. These recommendations will be based on documented positive or negative changes in performance.

If an employee continues to not meet work performance expectations he or she will be subject to discipline, up to and including termination.


For accountability, all documentation associated with a performance improvement plan, to include the final outcome and disposition, will be forwarded to the Administrative Captain via an internal complaint. Performance improvement plan documentation attached to a counseling record will be maintained solely in the secure Sheriff’s Office IA database while those attached to a written reprimand or higher will also be placed in the employee’s personnel and administrative files.


  1. San Juan County Employee Handbook; Section 11.4 – Employee Assistance Program