By Amira Van Leeuwen
KYLE — During its regular city council meeting on Sept. 6, the Kyle City Council circled back to discussing Personnel Improvement Policy (PIP), originally introduced by council member Yvonne Flores-Cale. Moving forward with a PIP plan was approved n a 5-1 decision with council member Ashlee Bradshaw dissenting.
Currently, the city practices personnel improvement but does not have a written policy.
The idea of a PIP was brought back by council member Michael Tobias, who previously dissented on the item, and Flores-Cale presented a basic PowerPoint for the duration of the discussion with the goal of having a personnel policy in place to encourage consistency across the board.
During Flores-Cale’s presentation, she said, “Personnel development by the employee means formal training sessions (individually or with the city), employee coaching and mentoring (even during probationary periods), conference participation and events, on-the-job training, job shadowing (if needed) and possible job rotation.”
Flores-Cale also talked about the benefits of a probationary period, which include setting behavioral expectations and being able to navigate around other restrictive policies.
“For clarification, I am not suggesting PIPs become a requirement; however, in the event the city chooses to utilize a personnel improvement policy with an employee, I believe fairness and equality should be shown to all who are placed on one,” Flores-Cale said. She also believes it is important for the city to provide consistency to its employees and believes PIPs are a way to do so.
Mayor Pro Tem Robert Rizo liked Flores-Cale’s presentation more this time.
“When we had the earlier conversations it sounded like everything was coming back to council, and it felt like [the]council was going to have a lot of oversight on this,” Rizo said. “This is something I can get behind because it’s not something that council’s going to be watching, this is something that staff is going to implement and staff will go through the steps with working with an employee,” Rizo said.
Tobias thought the city needed to look at today’s job market.
“I think what we’re trying to do is bring that kind of a positive outcome, but at the same time knowing that there will be some employees that may not be having some performance issues. We can do our best as a city to help with those improvements and move forward on that end to be able to retain them as much as possible,” Tobias said.
Interim City Manager Jerry Hendrix stepped up to the podium to say that he thought they were already doing a lot of what Flores-Cale presented.
“If the council would like us to bring back a presentation on what we are doing in regards to this we’ll be happy to do that at the next council meeting,” Hendrix said.
Human Resources Director Sandra Duran shared that the city does have a personnel policy. She read Section 2.06 which states, “All employees are hired for an indefinite period of time, and either the employee or the city is free to terminate the employment relationship at will, and at any time, with or without cause.”
Duran also read Section 2.16 of the policy which states, “No employee shall have a right to disciplinary actions that are progressive. Consideration may be given to the individual circumstances when determining the disciplinary actions to be taken.”
Section 8.01 covers adverse action, which Duran also read off during the meeting.
“The city may deny or reject any application, appointment or promotion, or suspend, demote or remove any employee, at any time that the City Manager or the City Manager’s designee determines that such action will promote the efficiency of the City’s service.”
“For general it tells you whether there’s prior history under consideration, whether the conduct and evidence of the individual warrants such disciplinary action, et cetera. It’s also for specific factors like improper conduct, dishonesty, disturbance, et cetera,” Duran said.
The policy also considers the nature and seriousness of the conduct, circumstances surrounding the conduct, recency of the conduct, age of the applicant or appointee at the time of the conduct, and contributing social or environmental conditions and the absence or presence of rehabilitation or efforts toward rehabilitation.
All of these are items that the city takes under consideration whether they are going to apply adverse action or a PIP and work with an employee.
“It’s very spelled out on what the options are,” Duran said.
Flores-Cale questioned what the city’s idea of retention looked like.
“We do a lot for retention,” Duran said. “We do a lot of recognition for retention.”
“I’d like to see consistency throughout the city for all employees that you decide to put on this [PIP]. So that would require a policy that everyone understands. The employee, the staff and council,” Flores-Cale said.
“When I asked the city for this policy, I was not given this until right now,” Flores-Cale said. “So placing this into a handbook where people can sign and say ‘Yes, I have it’ is a great start.”
“What I’m hearing you say is that you’d like to see the performance improvement plan go into our existing personnel policy and that we can do,” Hendrix said.
Council member Daniela Parsley said she wished the documents would have been public on the city website.
“I’m not really interested in putting anything into a policy because I do agree it is binding, and as Mr. Tobias said and as you have said repeatedly is that it is a case by case basis and you simply cannot create a black and white policy for something that has so much gray area,” Bradshaw said.
Mayor Travis Mitchell said he would be open to the policy only if it’s clear that discretion will be maintained.
“If it’s not in the handbook at all it could be beneficial, potentially, for you as well to lay that out in front of employees as they are being hired,” Mitchell said.