When employers have an employee with performance issues, they often implement a PIP programme (Performance Improvement Plan). A PIP is a formal document that outlines an employee’s performance issues, as well as clear guidance on how they can improve. Ideally, performance improvement plans will support an employee so they can remain gainfully employed with the organization, resulting in a win-win situation for both the employer and the employee.
Where Do You Begin With a Performance Improvement Plan?
First, you need to define why a performance improvement plan might be necessary. A PIP can be a powerful tool for employers to use for a number of performance issues, including when:
- Behavioral concerns have been persistent.
- The employee is struggling with meeting sales or quantity targets.
- The employee is consistently missing assigned milestones and goals.
A PIP tends to be most effective when clear goals can be set for the employee, specifically when it comes to performance issues. Some behavioral concerns, such as harassment or poor professional conduct towards others, can be challenging to address with a PIP. However, running late for work, meetings, and so on can be addressed with a PIP.
Once a clear reason for a performance improvement plan is defined, an effective PIP can be developed to foster a productive conversation between the manager and the employee.
How Do You Develop a PIP?
Ideally, your organization will develop a PIP programme that guides managers with policies and procedures to help develop a PIP plan for employees when needed. A PIP programme can support consistency in how and when a PIP is implemented, which helps to mitigate discrimination concerns and inconsistencies regarding the treatment of employees.
To develop a performance improvement plan, there are some key elements to include:
- The purpose of the PIP: Provide a statement that describes performance expectations and how not meeting them impacts the department or business.
- Why the employee is being placed on a PIP: Clearly outline the reasons for implementing the PIP, including the specific issues with evidence to back up the comments.
- Develop measurable goals and objectives for improvement: Share the goals and objectives the employee is expected to meet, including how to meet them, such as specific training, working with a coworker, and so on.
- Provide a timeline: Include a timeline and the projected end-date of the PIP, or the date by which you expect the employee to meet the goals.
- Define the outcomes: Include what will happen if the PIP goals and objectives are met and what will happen if they are not.
How Do You Determine if a PIP is appropriate?
If you’re considering a performance improvement plan for an employee, ask yourself the following questions:
- Does the employee have persistent performance issues? If the employee makes a single mistake, then a conversation for course correction should be had. However, if the issue is persistent, then a PIP is a wise consideration.
- Can the performance issues be corrected with a PIP? If the issues at hand cannot be corrected by utilizing a PIP to support the employee, then it shouldn’t be used, as it would prolong the inevitable and wouldn’t be fair to the employee (or the company, for that matter).
- Will the employee be surprised by the PIP? Ideally, when a PIP is implemented, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to the employee. They should be aware of concerns through regular performance review discussions that have led to them receiving a PIP.
- Has the employee been provided with the appropriate support to succeed? You want to ensure the employee has been provided with the proper training to succeed in their current position. If they haven’t, the best first step is to ensure they receive the accommodations needed to succeed. If there continues to be an issue, then a PIP might be in order.
Performance Improvement Plan Template
The following performance improvement plan example can be used as a guide for you to develop one for your organization.
Purpose of Performance Improvement Plan
The reason for this performance improvement plan (PIP) is to outline concerns with your work performance, clarify expectations for the position, and give you the opportunity to address the outlined concerns to remain in good standing with [Employer Name].
Performance Improvement Plan
As discussed with [HR or manager], this PIP document serves to offer you a plan to correct your performance in the following areas:
- Concern #1: You are expected to [employer expectations]
- Concern #2: You are expected to [employer expectations]
- Concern #3: You are expected to [employer expectations]
Actions to Take to Address Performance Concerns for Course Correction
To correct your performance, you must complete the following goals and objectives within [number of days].
- Improvement Goal #1: [Employee Goal]
- Improvement Goal #2: [Employee Goal]
- Improvement Goal #3: [Employee Goal]
- Improvement Goal #4: [Employee Goal]
By following the action plan outlined in this PIP, we are confident you will be able to meet the expectations of your position, [Position Name], in the [Department Name] department at [Employer Name].
If you are not able to meet the expectations outlined above by [date], you will be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including termination.
How to Implement a PIP
Once you’re clear a PIP is the right course of action:
- Develop the PIP using the guidance above.
- Have a conversation with the employee outlining the PIP purpose and goals.
- Provide the employee with a copy of the PIP to review and sign.
- Track the employee’s progress. Have a conversation at the mid-way point of the PIP timeline to assess how the employee is doing. From there, if they meet the expectations of the plan by the deadline, you can move forward with employment as usual. If they do not, however, it’s time to take the next disciplinary action according to your company’s policies.
Sometimes, employees need clarity to improve their performance based on what’s provided with a PIP meaning work improvement assistance is required for the employee to fully appreciate expectations and where they are falling short. Receiving a PIP can be daunting for an employee, though if explained in the best possible light, they’ll understand that the goal is for them to succeed.
On a final note, a PIP is a legal document that could be used in court proceedings and claims against the company. It’s best to share your PIP template with your legal team to ensure it is legally compliant.