Performance Coaching and Improvement


Effective Date: Expiration Date: Chapters:
April 4, 2023 When Superseded 14  


The District government strives to provide its residents with the best in government services. To realize this vision, every employee must put forth honest and concerted effort to meet performance expectations. Whenever an employee’s performance falls short of expectations, management officials have a responsibility to improve the employee’s performance by clarifying expectations, coaching and mentoring the employee, and supplying the necessary tools to help the employee grow and succeed. Supervisors may use this issuance as a guide to identify an employee's areas of improvement and implement methods to help employees meet their goals.

Performance Coaching and Improvement

When an employee underperforms, the employee’s supervisor should initiate a dialogue with the employee discussing the manager’s observations of the employee’s performance, the manager’s performance expectations, and why those expectations are important to the agency’s mission. When formal discussions prove unsuccessful in adjusting an employee’s performance, a manager must use a Performance Improvement Plan or “PIP” (Attachment 1), to clearly define and monitor progress toward performance expectations.

Begin Performance Coaching Early

Immediate supervisors should provide coaching to their employees and develop their employees to exceed expectations. When an employee’s performance “meets expectations,” but has the potential to decline, supervisors should begin the discussion around ways to improve.

When a supervisor sees that an employee’s performance does not meet expectations, and needs improvement, the supervisor must create a PIP for the employee.

Developing the Plan

Once the employee’s immediate supervisor determines performance does not meet expectations, the supervisor must use a PIP to chart a course of action using the PIP Form.

NOTE: When necessary, supervisors should consult with other stakeholders such as other individuals within the employee’s chain of command or the agency’s HR department to develop a performance improvement plan.

When charting a course, supervisors should consider and may include the following actions:

  1. Providing additional resources such as tools and supplies;
  2. Providing training in a virtual or classroom setting; or
  3. Providing coaching through one-on-one mentoring activities.

On the PIP form, identify the employee’s:

  1. Full Name;
  2. Agency;
  3. Job title;
  4. PIP start and end dates (no less than 30 days and no more than 90 days); and
  5. Service type and grade.

Use the Core Competencies section to only identify where the employee fell below the “Valued Performer” (3) rating level.

Also, if the employee’s approved Performance Plan identifies S.M.A.R.T. goals, you must identify where the employee fell below the “Valued Performer” (3) rating level.

In the Actions table, clearly explain the deficiency and the performance expectation. Identify one or more actions to assist the employee’s performance achievement.

The supervisor should also identify predetermined scheduled check-ins and benchmark progress expected during the PIP period.

NOTE: Performance Plans are not required for a PIP. However, it is important to ensure appropriate documentation and observation support a PIP’s use.  

Monitoring Progress

Once a supervisor defines a path towards improvement, the supervisor should meet with the employee during the PIP check-ins. These check-ins remain vital to ensuring an employee’s ability to successfully complete their PIP. Much like stops during a journey, check-ins serve as an opportunity to review the employee’s progress, the effectiveness of any actions taken, and whether additional tools or minor modifications are needed to help an employee succeed. Check-ins also maintain open communication between the employee and their supervisor.

Managing Results

At the PIP’s conclusion, the immediate supervisor must send the employee a:

  1. PIP Achievement Notice (Attachment 2);
  2. PIP Extension Notice (Attachment 3); or
  3. PIP Proposed Corrective Notice (Attachment 4) or PIP Proposed Adverse Action Notice (Attachment 5).

If the immediate supervisor does not inform the employee that they failed to reach their goal within 10 business days from the end of their PIP, then the employee will be treated as if they achieved their goal.

NOTE: An employee may only receive an extension if the total time (the initial timeframe plus the extension time) is no more than 90 days. If the employee is provided an extension, the immediate supervisor should be able to show progress and identify action adjustments to achieve the goal.

Unpacking the Experience

PIP Achievement Notice

An employee who successfully improves performance from a PIP strengthens the workforce. The PIP achievement notice confirms the PIP accomplishment and assists with increasing momentum for continued agency and individual success. Moreover, successful completion of a PIP cannot be used for future disciplinary action.

PIP Extension Notice

An employee who receives a PIP extension notice:

  1. Displayed progress toward meeting their performance goals;
  2. Did not exhaust a full 90 days for the initial PIP; and
  3. Their immediate supervisor is confident the employee will achieve the performance goals with a little more time.

This extension time does not include the time between the initial PIP end date and the start of an extension of a PIP. Additionally, the total PIP timeframe cannot exceed 90 days.

NOTE: Employees who request and take approved leave shall have the duration of their PIP extended by the duration of their leave. For example, Lamar’s PIP period is set to end on March 13. While on his PIP, he takes two weeks of sick leave. Lamar’s PIP period will extend for an additional two weeks, and end on March 27.

PIP Corrective or Adverse Action Notice

An employee who receives a PIP corrective or adverse action notice did not reach their performance goals. Within this notice, the employee will receive confirmation of their failure to reach their performance goals. The notice will also inform the employee whether one of the following actions will occur:

  1. Reassignment, in the case of a corrective action notice (Attachment 4); or
  2. Reduction in grade or termination, in the case of an adverse action notice (Attachment 5).

The agency should ensure any corrective or adverse actions comply with Chapter 16 of the District Personnel Manual (DPM). See I-2021-8 Discipline for the outlined process as well as examples for proposed and final notifications for corrective and adverse actions.


This issuance applies to:

  1. Career Service employees who have completed their probationary periods;
  2. Management Supervisory Service employees;
  3. Excepted Service employees;
  4. Educational Service employees within the Office of the State Superintendent of Education; and
  5. Uniformed positions of the Metropolitan Police Department and Fire and Emergency Medical Services described in DPM § 1400.1(c).

Collective bargaining agreement provisions shall take precedence over the provisions of this issuance for those employees covered by the agreement, to the extent that there is a conflict.

NOTE: Legal Service employees can receive a PIP in accordance with Chapter 36, Legal Services, of the DPM § 3609.


  1. Performance Management, D.C.  Official Code § 1-613.51
  2. Performance Improvement Plan, District Personnel Manual § 1410


  1. Attachment 1 - Performance Improvement Plan Form
  2. Attachment 2- Sample PIP Achievement Notice
  3. Attachment 3- Sample PIP Extension Notice
  4. Attachment 4- Sample PIP Proposed Corrective Action Notice
  5. Attachment 5- Sample PIP Proposed Adverse Action

Issued by Interim Director E. Lindsey Maxwell II, Esq., D.C. Department of Human Resources on April 4, 2023, 10:52 a.m.