Carnegie Mellon University

Employee Relations

Maintaining a positive, productive work environment is critical for all managers. You accomplish this by engaging in:

  • mentoring and coaching your staff
  • regular feedback, including annual performance reviews
  • open and honest communication regarding group, unit and university business issues
  • change management strategies
  • employee engagement and empowerment
  • fairly, assertively and promptly addressing workplace challenges and problems

Properly addressing declining performance or other behaviors that have a negative impact in the workplace is a necessary and important function of a manager's job. Your HR Manager is a wonderful resource for assistance with employee relations or performance issues. You are encouraged to contact your HR Manager to help you develop an action plan when an issue or concern arises.

The Carnegie Mellon Strategic Plan strongly emphasizes an accomplished university community. One of the strategies to achieve that goal is for managers to give regular performance feedback and establish clear lines of communication with their employees. Ongoing feedback should clarify expectations, standards, and perceived performance throughout the year and bring to light the issues that may contribute to or distract from achieving those goals.

The university expects that each member of the university community will receive a performance review each fiscal year (by June 30). Employees are encouraged to complete a self-assessment as part of the review process. For a template you may want to use for the performance review, contact your HR Manager.

If a staff member's work performance is not satisfactory, or if the staff member has violated university policy, it is your responsibility as a manager to address the issue. Please contact your HR Manager to partner on a resolution. Disciplinary guidelines are detailed in the Staff Handbook [pdf].

The Performance Improvement Plan (PIP) is a tool to help facilitate a constructive discussion between a staff member and supervisor. The goals of the PIP are to clarify work performance to be improved and to identify ways the supervisor will support the staff member in meeting the performance goals outlined in the plan.

You should work with your HR Manager to determine whether a PIP is an effective tool for your situation. Your HR Manager can help you develop a comprehensive PIP for your staff member.

Once the plan has been developed with the assistance of the HR Manager, the supervisor will meet with the employee to articulate the desired level of performance and expected outcomes that define success. The supervisor will then monitor and provide feedback regarding the staff member's performance and may take additional disciplinary action, if warranted, through collaboration with the HR Manager.

Contact your HR Manager to find out more about performance improvement plans and other types of disciplinary measures.

  1. Be Flexible — Understand that employees have a personal life outside of their work life. Be as flexible with work schedules as you can to allow for employees to take care of personal matters. Learn more about the university's Flex Time Policy.
  2. Communicate — Its important for everyone to be part of the team and be in the loop with the latest information available.
  3. Recognize Success — Recognition does not always have to come in the form of a financial award. A "Thank You" note or a "kudos" email go along way in showing your appreciation. There are also many programs at the university to recognize outstanding service to the university community:
    • The Andy Awards are a tribute to the spirit of teamwork and dedication embodied by the staff at Carnegie Mellon University.
    • The Celebration of Education Awards recognize the accomplishments of faculty who exemplify the university’s standards of excellence in education.
    • The Alumni Awards recognize alumni, faculty and students for their service to the university and for their achievements in the arts, humanities, sciences, technology and business.
  4. Offer Developmental Opportunities — Provide employees with the ability to grow and learn more than just performing their current duties. Offer on-the-job training, plan and budget for developmental opportunities, and encourage your team to participate in professional development opportunities.
  5. Build Trust — You build trust by saying what you are going to do and doing what you say you are going do.
  6. Give and Receive Feedback — Provide honest performance feedback to your staff members and allow them to provide you with feedback.
  7. Promote a Sense of Purpose — It is important for every employee to see where their role fits in with the university and how their work contributes to the success of Carnegie Mellon.