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Writing an Employee Performance Review
Companies typically practice annual employee performance reviews. A supervisor prepares the written review and leads the discussion to discuss it with the employee. The performance review recognizes the employee’s accomplishments and achievements while also indicating any room for improvement. A potential salary increase is usually part of the review process.
The performance review is not a lecture but more of a two-way conversation. Ideally, nothing new is presented in the review if there has been open communication throughout the year. Any issues should be addressed promptly and not held for the annual review. The employee performance review is really more of a summary of work performance. Many Human Resources offices provide review templates as a guide to follow.
Ensure that the employee knows the evaluation tools and methods used for the review. This could be an increase or decrease in sales, changes in production rates, signs of added responsibilities and office dynamics. Give clear-cut examples related to the employee. If you notice an improvement in the way the employee does his or her job or is helpful within the office environment, point out times when you actually saw this. Note any changes from the last review.
Listen carefully to the employee’s responses. Make notes for documentation. Allow for feedback like how your management style is affecting the employee. Does the employee see a need for change? If so, what strides can you make to start the change. For a good employee and supervisor relationship, you have to feel a mutual trust. Be honest in communication and empathetic to work woes.
Expectations and Goals
After reviewing the past year’s performance, include a section for expectations moving forward. You can come up with goals for the next year together. If the employee helps in the goal-setting, he or she is more apt to stick with it. Long-term expectations should be challenging and rewarding, while short-term goals should provide a path for reaching the long-term goals. Write the goals down for documentation, and give a copy of the list to the employee for reference.
Wrapping It Up
The performance review should conclude on a positive note. Express your appreciation for the employee’s efforts. Offer any salary increase or bonus potential. Note any added benefits and perks like extra vacation or personal days that will be available to the employee for the upcoming year. A good review should offer encouragement. Lots of companies prefer the employee sign the review for Human Resources documentation.
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- Performance Improvement Plan
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After an employee receives a poor performance review, management can give him a final chance to step up his game through a performance improvement plan ( PIP or sometimes also called a performance action plan).
A performance improvement plan provides the employee with clear objectives to meet to avoid dismissal, demotion, or transfer.
What is a Performance improvement plan?
The purpose and benefits of a performance improvement plan, performance improvement plan examples, how to write a performance improvement plan, how to respond to a performance improvement plan, how to survive a performance improvement plan.
A performance improvement plan is a document that lists where an employee is falling short and what he can do to improve.
For instance, the performance action plan may detail skills or training the employee lacks. Alternatively, it could specify how the employee needs to change his behavior. In either case, the PIP will clearly state the steps the employee needs to take to make the necessary improvements.
An employee performance improvement plan is written by the worker’s manager and submitted to HR. It has a deadline for meeting the named objectives — usually 30, 60, or 90 days. It also states the consequences should the employee’s performance continue to fall short.
In other words, there is no clear cut answer to “What is a performance improvement plan?” Rather, a PIP is flexible enough to suit any issue. It can also be any length — all this depends on the number of objectives the employee needs to meet to perform to the desired standard.
Why do employers use performance improvements plans to resolve issues leading to poor performance when they could simply fire the employee? There are actually several benefits to using PIPs.
1. Better company culture
Using PIPs promotes a sense of accountability. Employees know that they must meet expectations or face disciplinary action.
This contributes to positive work culture . Hard-working employees feel appreciated, as they know that everyone must pull their weight.
Employees who are struggling know that managers will support them if they fall behind, by providing them with actionable objectives. Everyone better understands what is expected of them.
Bear in mind that you can use performance improvement plans for more than just problematic employees. A performance improvement plan is also appropriate for workers who want to move up in the company (but are unsure how to do so) as well as for employees who would be a better fit for a different position — i.e. they would like to move laterally.
In other words, PIPs help workers feel valued in the company, as they know their employer will support them to reach their long-term career goals. At the same time, performance action plans allow companies to improve their workforce with better-motivated employees.
2. Save time and money
Every employer wants to minimize staff turnover, as this saves time and money.
Helping current employees improve their performance eliminates the expenses associated with firing workers and searching for applicants to fill positions.
It also prevents the need to hold interviews and schedule training for new hires. Although the employee receiving a PIP may need training, it will still be less training than what a new worker would require.
3. More effective than reviews
Reviews rarely have consequences. Plus, some people react poorly to criticism, even when it is constructive feedback .
To make matters worse, most people believe that feedback is inaccurate. These factors combined mean that employees often dismiss reviews and continue performing exactly the same as before .
In contrast, PIPs provide employees with a clear idea of where they are failing and what they need to do to improve.
When framed the right “why”, performance improvement plans can even encourage employees to try harder.
After your initial conversation with the employee, his manager should draw up a draft performance improvement plan and send it to HR for review.
Here are a few performance plan examples you can use for your own PIPs.
#1 Example to improve customer service
Our first sample performance improvement plan is for customer service.
This kind of performance improvement plan could be necessary if clients are complaining about the attitude or support they receive from a particular employee.
Goal : The overall goal of such a PIP may be to improve interactions with clients.
Objectives : Possible objectives to meet such a goal could be to see better customer retention or engagement.
Action : To achieve the above objectives, the employee could work more closely with customers to resolve problems or attend a customer service training session.
Metrics : The most appropriate metrics would likely be the customer churn rate or customer satisfaction score.
#2 Example to improve the low-quality of work
In other situations, an employee may have little or no contact with customers, but he could still be delivering poor-quality work in other ways.
Goal : Improve the quality of work.
Objectives : Meet deadlines or produce work that is free from errors.
Action : The first objective is simple — the employees need to miss no deadlines within the timeframe set out in the PIP. The second objective requires collaboration with a senior team member to check for errors and judge whether the quality is acceptable.
Metrics : Number of late deadlines and quality of work (the latter may be subjective).
#3 Example for productivity
This next example is most suited to someone in a middle management position.
Let’s say that the employee is in charge of growing a program by increasing the number of subscribers. After several months, there is minimal (if any) change.
Goal : Grow program by X amount of subscribers.
Objectives : Increase the number of clients subscribed to the program and decrease the number of unsubscribes.
Action : Improve campaigns, better advertise (or increase) the benefits of the program, and implement a retention strategy.
Metrics : Subscriptions and unsubscribes.
#4 Example for unprofessional behavior
The last of our performance improvement plan samples is for unprofessional behavior.
This type of PIP could be necessary for a variety of situations, ranging from mistreatment of subordinates or coworkers to persistent lateness and unauthorized absences.
Goal : Cease behavior entirely.
Objectives : Arrive on time, treat others with respect, or attend all required meetings.
Action : Only miss work when authorized for personal or medical reasons. Receive appropriate workplace behavior training.
Metrics : Some behaviors are easily measurable (for instance, did the employee arrive no more than 5 minutes late every day?) Other situations are more subjective. For example, you may need to talk to subordinates who were finding it difficult to work with the employee.
Performance improvement plan template
You can create your own performance improvement plan by using our 5 step guide, also we recommend to check an existing and relevant template online to save you time.
Now you know what your PIP needs to include and you’ve seen some examples. All that’s left is to put everything together and start writing a performance improvement plan for a specific employee and issue.
To help you, here’s a step-by-step guide detailing how to write a performance improvement plan.
1. Determine acceptable performance
State what would be acceptable performance and compare this to what you are currently seeing from your employee. Be specific as to where exactly the employee is falling short, including examples of behavior and performance.
Instead of presenting an employee with a PIP unexpectedly, have a meeting beforehand where you discuss performance issues.
All parties (the manager, HR, and the employee) should have the chance to provide input. You want the employee to feel engaged and committed to meeting targets.
2. Create measurable objectives
Use the SMART framework to define the objectives your employee needs to meet. Determine how you will measure success.
Tip: Determine the Reason for Performance Issues
You need to be sure that a PIP is worth the effort. Find out what is causing the poor performance.
It could be that the employee feels overwhelmed by expectations at work or perhaps he is dealing with personal problems you are unaware of. Alternatively, the problem may be that the employee has no interest in staying with your company in the long term.
3. Define what support the employee will receive
List how the employee’s manager will help him reach the PIP goal. This could include training, coaching, or using additional resources.
Tip: Think of Ways You Can Best Help the Employee
The whole point of a PIP is to help the employee improve to keep him on your team. Rather than expecting him to achieve the objectives alone, consider what he may be lacking from you that could better his performance.
4. Draw up a schedule for check-Ins
Specify how often you will meet with the employee to provide feedback. Create a calendar of check-ins.
Tip: Don’t Wait Until the Deadline
It’s no use creating a PIP and then waiting until the deadline to check the employee’s progress.
Regular check-ins will allow the employee to voice any doubts or difficulties. Plus, they will allow you to confirm that he is on the right track or if further action is necessary.
5. State the consequences of a lack of improvement
Make it clear what the consequences are if the employee fails to meet the improvement goal.
By this point, you should know why you want to use a PIP, how to create a performance plan for your unique situation, and what exactly to include. There is still one thing left: your employee needs to know how to respond and pass the PIP. Share the following advice with your employee to ensure that the process runs as smoothly as possible.
Tip: Focus on Improvement Rather Than Punishment
It is critical that your employee doesn’t perceive the PIP as a sign he will soon be fired.
Remember to talk about where he is excelling and make it clear that you want to see him improve. Set a goal the employee feels confident he can achieve and that will be beneficial to everyone.
How to respond to and survive a PIP
As an employee, you need to know how to get past a performance improvement plan and gain something positive from the experience.
Your manager should have set performance objectives that are reasonable and attainable.
Now it’s up to you to decide whether these targets are worthwhile.
- If you are uninterested in staying at the company for much longer, you can save everyone time and stress by starting a search for a new job instead.
- If you do decide that your job is worth keeping (which should be the case the majority of the time), try to see the PIP positively. Consider it useful feedback to help you learn and grow both within the company and in your career as a whole.
The next step is to survive your performance improvement plan and come out as a better-qualified, more valuable worker. This involves:
1. Making your job a priority
Avoid staying out late on work nights, accept all the optional invitations to work events, and spend your time at work on job-related activities only.
2. Seeking help when you need it
A PIP is often an indication that your company believes you are worth having as an employee. Talk to your manager or HR if you are unclear about anything.
3. Being positive
Go to work every day with a great attitude. Don’t let small challenges get you down.
A PIP is a great strategy to retain an employee whose performance has been lacking recently but who does have the potential and motivation to remain a strong team player.
Whether you are the employer or the worker, you should never see a performance improvement plan as a superficial step before termination. Rather, it should be a useful tool to transform a struggling employee into a valuable asset for the company.
Ivan is a dedicated and versatile professional with over 12 years of experience in online marketing and a proven track record of turning challenges into opportunities. As a business development assistant to the CEO at Valamis, Ivan works diligently to improve internal processes and explore new possibilities for the company.
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Run » human resources, what is a performance improvement plan (pip).
Here are the benefits of using a performance improvement plan. Discover valuable examples of what to include.
Performance improvement plans can help course-correct an underperforming or deficient employee to help them become a thriving asset of an employer’s team. As a manager or business owner, learn the benefits of using a performance improvement plan and discover valuable examples of what to include to get struggling employees back on track.
What is a performance improvement plan (PIP)?
A performance improvement plan (PIP) is a formal document that details changes an employee must make to keep their job. PIPs usually outline a list of performance goals employees must meet in a specified timeframe — generally within 30, 60, or 90 days. For example, an employee who has a problem meeting deadlines, therefore causing delays in other departments, may receive a PIP that outlines a helpful, step-by-step process to meet those set deadlines.
From an employee’s perspective, following a PIP may be the last step before termination; however, managers also use PIPs as a tool with human resources (HR) and the employee as a clear path to rectifying performance.
Benefits of using PIPs
There are many benefits to using PIPs, including preventing high turnover rates by giving employees another chance to succeed; promoting positive communication between the employer, employee, and HR; and setting clear expectations for the employee. By using a PIP, employers record the employee’s performance in writing, along with the steps to improve said performance. This helps the employer avoid liability issues if they choose to terminate an employee.
PIPs can also be beneficial when surveying employees. With a written job performance record, employers can quickly look back to determine if they should consider an employee for promotion or advancement opportunities.
[Read more: How to Survey Your Employees ]
If the employee cannot meet the expectations set forth, or at least some type of measurable improvement, it may be time for termination.
What to include in a PIP
It’s essential to understand what goes into a PIP before drafting one. First and foremost, the key to a good PIP is clarity. A PIP should begin by clearly stating the company’s expectations overall and within the employee’s specific job role. Remember: The point of a PIP is to create a clear path to success.
Areas for improvement
Next, the employer should identify areas where improvement is needed (based on facts, not opinion) by using examples of what the employee is not doing to meet expectations. The employer can constructively frame this and express their belief in the employee to do a better job.
A good PIP should also include an action plan with a set timeframe. This action plan can be detailed with specific goals, progress milestones, and additional training. Following the action plan, the PIP should include scheduled follow-ups between the employer, HR, and employee, as well as progress points and the consequences of not meeting those points.
Next steps if not followed
Finally, the PIP should include a section to explain what will happen if the PIP is deemed ineffective. If the employee cannot meet the expectations set forth, or at least some type of measurable improvement, it may be time for termination. At this point, it is best to consult with HR for company-specific next steps.
[Read more: 5 Smart Ways to Manage Employee Promotions ]
Templates and examples of PIPs
- The Management Center: The Management Center offers a complete toolkit if you are an employer or manager unsure how to begin creating a PIP. The toolkit includes a preparation worksheet for managers to complete before starting the formal PIP and a template for managers to create the actual PIP.
- Monday.com : If specificity and customization are vital to your company when creating a PIP, monday.com offers examples of poor employee performance PIPs and issuing a PIP after a customer complaint. In addition, the platform allows employers to customize the template to create an efficient workflow and gives everyone involved (employer, HR, and employee) direct access to the PIP as it lives on the cloud.
- Betterworks : Betterworks offers additional elements in their example of creating a PIP, like the use of metrics. Key results you can measure — for example, customer satisfaction — can help employees gauge the improvement they need to succeed. Betterworks also offers a PIP check-in form for those in management positions to evaluate the employee’s progress since issuing the PIP.
[Read more: How to Create Growth Opportunities for Employees ]
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Latest blog posts, performance improvement plan (pip): overview & best practices.
A performance improvement plan (PIP) can transform an unpleasant experience into a good one. After all, nobody likes delivering negative employee feedback, but everyone appreciates a plan to improve.
In this article, we break down exactly what goes into one of these plans, why they are so effective, and even offer a free template you can get started with today.
- 1 What Is A Performance Improvement Plan?
- 2 When Is A Performance Improvement Plan Appropriate?
- 3 How Should You Introduce A Performance Improvement Plan?
- 4 8 Steps To Designing A Performance Improvement Plan
- 5 4 Main Benefits Of A Performance Improvement Plan
What Is A Performance Improvement Plan?
A performance improvement plan, also known as a performance action plan, is a formal document that outlines an employee's performance deficiencies, along with a timeline and goal-oriented plan to help them improve.
Do Performance Improvement Plans Actually Work?
What makes introducing a performance improvement plan even easier is knowing your employees will likely welcome it. After all, 65% of employees say they actually want more feedback, as long as it’s actionable and constructive.
Almost a quarter of employees have considered leaving their job because their managers provide inadequate feedback, which is why implementing a goal-based performance improvement plan is so important.
When Is A Performance Improvement Plan Appropriate?
Performance improvement plans won’t work for every employee issue.
They’re best suited for situations where an employee is underperforming but has the potential to improve, and when clear and attainable goals can be set for the employee to reach.
Common problems that can be resolved with a performance improvement plan include:
Poor quality of work
Consistent tardiness or absences
Low productivity and missed deadlines
Poor client/customer feedback
Issues around behavior or conduct aren’t as well-suited for a performance improvement plan, as it’s harder to set attainable goals for something like insubordination or harassment.
Read more about disciplinary meetings here and verbal warnings here .
There may also be a personal issue that’s affecting the employee’s performance, and not necessarily an issue with their skills or training.
If so, the employee would benefit more from an approved leave or increased mental health support rather than a performance improvement plan.
Is A Performance Improvement Plan A Disciplinary Step?
Not usually, no. A performance improvement plan is not designed to discipline an employee, but to serve as an opportunity for them to get their performance where it needs to be.
That said, it may be a prelude to disciplinary action, but it is not fair to assume that it always would or would require it.
After all, an employee may not have intentionally done something wrong to warrant a PIP. They may simply need help improving in their work, rather than correcting a transgression or personal misconduct.
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How Should You Introduce A Performance Improvement Plan?
How should an HR professional or leader introduce a PIP to an underperforming employee? Of course, we want to make sure we approach this topic with the right level of care and consideration.
After all, as you can imagine, receiving a PIP can be stressful for an employee. Receiving criticism is uncomfortable, and PIPs have a reputation for being many employer’s last attempt at employee improvement before they let them go.
Employees don’t always lose their job after receiving a PIP, but the thought alone can increase stress. Luckily, as an employer, your approach to the process can change all of that.
Focus On The Positives Of A Performance Improvement Plan
Instead of using a PIP to point out everything an employee is doing wrong, present it as an opportunity for the employee to learn, grow, and achieve their potential, all with the full support of their employer.
This can transform the experience for both parties, taking it from anxiety-inducing to motivational.
Here are 31 other concrete ways to motivate your employees today.
8 Steps To Designing A Performance Improvement Plan
Every performance improvement plan should be highly tailored to the employee, their performance deficiencies, and the goals that will help them improve.
To design an effective PIP for every employee, follow this guide:
1. Evaluate The Situation
While some employers will use PIPs as a way to document employee issues before terminating them, that’s not necessarily their best use.
A performance improvement plan is best used in a situation where an employee needs help improving in their role and performance, has the potential, and is committed to that improvement.
If the employee and their situation fit the criteria, then moving forward with a PIP is likely the best course of action.
If the employee has disengaged completely from their work and role, you as an employer can only do so much.
They may not see their issues as issues and may not be committed to improvement, in which case a verbal warning, demotion, transfer, or termination may be the necessary next step.
Get Insight Into Their Performance
To confirm there’s an issue that warrants a PIP, review the employee’s performance and speak with their superior or team to get insight into their day-to-day conduct.
Create a record of their performance deficiencies and collect documented proof of each. If the employee has received previous warnings related to their performance, review the documents and include those in the file.
Click here to discover document management with Personio.
You may also want to include details on how the employee’s performance has affected their:
The company’s overall success
This is not designed to guilt the employee, of course, but to emphasize how valued and important they are to the business.
Finally, look over the employee’s most recent performance review , or multiple reviews, depending on their seniority with the company. This can often shed light on ongoing issues.
3. Manager Review
Employee success is a team effort; if employees haven’t received the support, training, and continuous guidance they need from their manager or supervisor, they haven’t been set up for success.
Review the employee’s training history, onboarding experience , and how they’ve been supported by their manager or supervisor to see if there has been a lack of training or help from leadership.
Next, uncover their supervisor’s expectations and goals. Are they committed to helping this employee succeed, or are they more focused on getting them terminated? Their mindset can have a drastic impact on how successfully the PIP plays out.
This is not an employee vs employer scenario — everyone should be on the same page from the get-go and work together as one team.
4. Get Started: Performance Improvement Plan Template
With the collected information, the employee’s manager or supervisor will create a draft of the performance improvement plan, which is then reviewed by HR.
The document should cover the following:
Background and Basics:
Employee’s name, title, job description, and responsibilities
Expectations around employee’s performance levels (sales goals, projects, etc.)
Record of deficiencies with specific examples, dates, and proof
Clear Goals and Timelines:
A timeline with scheduled check-in meetings
Attainable goals set within a realistic timeframe, such as:
Hitting a certain sales target in one quarter
No late arrivals or unapproved absences for one month
No missed deadlines for three months
Completing tasks at a certain rate
How the company will support the employee (training courses, mentorship, coaching, etc.)
Consequences for not meeting the goals of the plan or not completing it
Download Our Performance Review Template
Focus on helping your managers deliver the best possible performance review, alongside a performance improvement plan. Download our performance review template today.
The HR department will then review the claims and proof to ensure they’re substantiated and are well-suited for a PIP, confirming the following:
The goals are attainable, relevant, and possible to achieve within the given timeframe.
There’s no bias against the employee from their manager. (If a manager would rather terminate an employee than conduct a PIP, the document may unfairly overemphasize the issues or faults of the employee.)
The employee has the tools, support, and guidance they need to achieve the goals.
6. PIP Meeting
The manager, HR representative, and employee will then meet to review the plan and timelines which have been approved by the HR team.
You will want to keep the atmosphere very open and positive during this time, emphasizing that you’re there to encourage and support the employee and help them reach their full potential.
Getting the employee’s input and feedback is key to nurturing a positive environment and approach. Let them ask questions and try to break down any blockers or problems that are presented.
After the meeting, you may need to modify the plan based on the employee’s input (where appropriate). When the plan is complete, it must be signed by both manager and employee and approved by HR.
7. Employee Check-Ins
Once the employee receives the performance improvement plan and reaches the established start date, the ball is mostly in their court.
How long does a PIP last? Typically 30, 60, or 90 days; the timeline should be tailored to an employee’s specific goals and how long it will take to accomplish them.
Schedule check-in meetings with the manager and employee throughout the course of the plan to keep the process running smoothly, and to help the employee get as much from the experience as possible.
Double-check they have all of the tools and training they need as they move forward, and keep the door open to conversation and advice if the employee needs additional support.
8. Plan Completion And Next Steps
At the end of the performance improvement plan, arrange a closing meeting with the employee and manager to review the employee’s progress, see which goals they’ve hit, and clarify next steps.
If the employee hits their goals or finishes training before the official end of their plan, this meeting may get moved up.
Either way, it’s a great time to celebrate all that the employee has accomplished, set expectations for their job performance moving forward, and keep that positive momentum going!
4 Main Benefits Of A Performance Improvement Plan
While the focus of a performance improvement plan is to address and resolve specific issues, its impact is often much greater:
Better Employee Experiences
Employees are more engaged when their managers help them set performance goals, which encourages them to take more pride in their work, produce better results, and increases their overall job satisfaction.
More Skilled Employees
Skill gaps are often the root cause of many workplace performance issues. Whether the employee never received proper training or never developed the skills needed for their role, a performance improvement plan will find those knowledge gaps, identify the training needed to fill them, and help you create an effective training schedule.
In the end, the employee will be better at their job, and you’ll have an even stronger team because of it.
Performance improvement plans often pave the way for much-needed conversations to happen, where employees can address difficult issues they may not otherwise come forward with.
When managers and supervisors are more open and approachable, employees are more engaged in their work, and that engagement increases 30% when the feedback they receive is focused on their strengths. Positivity is powerful, isn’t it?
Increased Employee Retention
By emphasizing the positive aspects of a PIP, employees will see that their employers really are supportive of them and want to see them succeed. With the right training, they’ll also gain confidence in their role, which can help keep them motivated and aligned with the company’s mission.
Struggling employees are like diamonds in the rough. But with a performance improvement plan that’s presented and executed with positivity and strategy, they can easily get back on track, improve their work, and shine in their role.
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Performance Improvement Plan (PIP): The Ultimate Guide [+Free Template]
How can managers encourage struggling employees to do better? This question has become even more important as employers are looking for ways to review the performance of remote employees. A performance improvement plan (PIP) will give workers a roadmap to increased success.
But these staff evaluation tools are still controversial. They have a bad reputation amongst employees, who see them as one step from firing. In fact, research shows that some employees see performance reviews as inaccurate and aren’t motivated to work harder.
This means that managers using PIPs should take steps to communicate with employees in a way that resonates. Here, we’ll explore the most effective ways to create and implement a performance improvement plan —without burning bridges with employees.
Table of Contents
What Is a Performance Improvement Plan?
A performance improvement plan is a formal document to help employees reach expectations they may be struggling to meet.
Such a plan will offer honest performance appraisal, giving employees insight into performance gaps and areas where they are falling short. After that, it will provide precise steps for how they can do better . A PIP will create a specific timeline with intermediary goals to guide employees and improve performance.
It will also include clear consequences for employees who do not meet expectations. These might range from disciplinary action to termination of employment. Employees presented with PIPs must reckon with their shortcomings to become the company’s workers.
When Should a Performance Improvement Plan be Implemented?
Employers can tailor a performance improvement plan template to fit any problem. For example, a PIP may focus on improving work quality, goal setting, or meeting growth numbers. Correctly implemented, an employee improvement plan may work wonders for struggling employees. It will give employees exact instructions on how to improve and a clear metric for measuring their improvement.
In order to be effective, PIPs must be motivated by a sincere desire to help employees to improve. Because of their reputation, PIPs may make employees nervous. This means managers issuing PIPs should be prepared to communicate clearly about their expectations, check in regularly, and support employees. All of this will help boost employee morale.
That said, PIPs aren’t only for employees who are struggling in their roles. They can also help structure a position for an employee who feels unfulfilled. A PIP can prepare an employee to transition into a higher-level role or move laterally into a role that is a better fit.
Benefits of Performance Improvement Plan
PIPs enable employee mobility and personal growth. Therefore, they can benefit both employees and employers. The performance appraisal benefits are endless.
Culture of Accountability
When employers invest in bettering their employees rather than letting them go for slip-ups or poor performance, employees feel more engaged with the company. Using a performance review form empowers employees to make necessary changes and for managers to create a high-performance culture.
Save Time and Money
By addressing and fixing issues thanks to your performance improvement plan and other performance management tools, employers can boost productivity in the workplace and keep their staff on track. PIPs may be more effective than an annual performance appraisal because they are taken very seriously by employees.
Additionally, PIPs give employees a second chance, which reduces turnover. This will not only save employers the costs associated with letting workers go and training new hires. It will also save them the costs of low morale associated with firings.
PIPs provide a formal document stating an employer’s dissatisfaction with an employee’s performance. This makes it more difficult for an employee to win a case claiming unjust or unlawful termination down the road. While this does protect employers, it is also the reason employees are uncomfortable when they receive a PIP.
How to Address Attitude in a Performance Improvement Plan
Talking to an employee about performance improvement is never easy, especially when it is tied to overall attitude. It might lead to a situation where employees become defensive and feel that they are being asked to meet impossible goals. They may fear that their jobs are at risk. Although good managers will always find a way to be kind and respectful, the conversation may still be uncomfortable and upsetting.
Here are our tips to make sure the interaction leaves the employee feeling supported instead of abandoned.
An employee appraisal needs to draw on real-life examples. Instead of telling an employee that their work quality is low, employers should prepare to point to specific instances. Perhaps the employee is not taking certain responsibilities seriously. Perhaps they consistently miss important deadlines and don’t seem to be making any effort to improve. Whatever the problem, employers may be able to use performance management software to identify a pattern and not just a single occasion.
Has the employee already been asked to fix this problem? Employers may not need PIPs if they communicate openly with their staff about performance ongoing. If the employee has been warned, employers should be sure to point this out.
Focus on performance
PIPs are opportunities for growth and improvement. Managers holding these difficult conversations must stay focused on performance goals. Personal attacks in this scenario, as ever, are out of line. Proactive managers can keep a record of performance evaluations with a 360-degree review template , a performance appraisal , or a self-assessment template and use these examples to see how others organise these discussions.
How to Write a Performance Improvement Plan
One of the most important aspects of a PIP is the performance evaluation form. This is the written document employers will make with employees to record objectives and a timeline for improvement. Here are some key considerations for employers developing an employee evaluation form.
Define acceptable performance
How would a high-performing employee be completing this role? Instead of focusing on what they don’t want, employers should first have a firm understanding of what they do want. Then, they can work backwards to determine where the employee is falling short and where they can improve.
Create measurable objectives
Give the employee insight into the business’s performance appraisal system. What do they need to do to improve? Use the SMART framework (Smart, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-based) to create goals employees can reasonably achieve. Keep track of employee performance metrics and take feedback into account. If they say expectations are unreasonable, there may be a good reason for it.
Outline resources and support
What resources will be available for employees who need to develop new skill sets? Managers can offer support through training, and performance coaching. Similarly, they can encourage employees to ask their peers for guidance. Consider how to address the root of the problem.
One of the most important parts of the performance appraisal form is scheduling regular meetings between the manager and employee. The manager should use these meetings as an opportunity to practice continuous performance management and ensure that the employee is meeting incremental goals and developing according to the PIP. Employees will be able to voice any doubts or difficulties.
State the consequences
There’s no way around it. Although PIPs should ideally help an employee to reach their potential, the possibility exists that they might not. An employee performance improvement plan form should include the repercussions of not meeting expectations.
With these considerations in mind, a manager will be able to draw up a clear and reasonable PIP.
Performance Improvement Plan Best Practices
While PIPs can help struggling employees improve performance, the PIP process can also cause stress. What are the best employee performance management practices to make sure the PIP goes over as smoothly as possible?
Make a plan
First, create a plan. Organise a meeting with both the employee’s manager and hr present. Meanwhile, prepare what to say ahead of time, and make sure to have an employee evaluation form ready.
Listen to your employee
Give the employee an opportunity to respond with any thoughts or comments. The employee is sure to have valuable feedback about the demands of their position or extenuating circumstances. Some businesses may offer a self-appraisal form to see how employees perceive their own recent performance.
Find the root cause of the issue
If an employee is showing poor performance, chances are there is a good reason. This employee was hired because of their skills and their attitude, so they are probably not faltering out of spite. Does the employee struggle to understand the expectations of their role? Are they having trouble outside of work that is affecting their performance? Investigate specific issues through targeted performance review questions and offer support accordingly.
Emphasise the positive
Emphasise the employee’s positive attributes and the impact they have made on the business. This is an opportunity for them to create a personal improvement plan. Help them to find ways to expand their positive influence.
The supervisor evaluation will help employees to better understand the business’s expectations. Clear goal-setting will give employees a clear path to follow and help them to reach objectives.
Track the employee’s progress after the initial meetings. Is their improvement in line with any interim goals? Regularly, touching base will help to keep employees motivated and moving in the right direction. Offer an employee review form so employees can evaluate their own progress.
Employee Attendance Improvement Plan Example
A PIP might be used to resolve a number of situations. Here, we’ll explore how to use a staff performance evaluation to address an employee’s spotty attendance record.
The first step is to explain what kind of attendance is expected of the employee. Show the employee how their behaviour is affecting the rest of the staff. Are the employee’s colleagues having to cover shifts on short notice or pick up the slack? Demonstrate a history of absences using absence-tracking software .
Secondly, create measurable objectives. In this instance, it might be no absences or late arrivals in the next month.san
Thirdly, figure out if there is any way you can support the employee. Do they need a different shift so that they can be free to pick up their kids from school in the afternoon? Schedule check-ins to meet throughout the month and discuss the employee’s progress.
Finally, let the employee know the consequences they will face if they continue missing work. In end, the PIP form should include some version of the following:
Goal: To reduce absenteeism
Objectives: Arrive on time, no absences for a month
Action: Only miss work when authorised for medical or personal reasons
Support: Shift switches if necessary
Check-ins: Every Friday at 10 am for the next month
Related video: What is a PIP? How to create and present a Performance Improvement Plan.
How to Respond to a Performance Improvement Plan: A Guide for Employees
For employees being called in to discuss a PIP with their manager, the process can be nerve-wracking. Maybe the manager pointed out room for improvement before, but the employee didn’t realise it was quite so serious. The good news? This employee evaluation is an opportunity for employees to step up their game and improve their performance. How they react will either win the trust of their bosses for the long term or further reduce confidence.
Be honest with yourself
It can sting when the boss says your work isn’t up to par, but it is also a valuable opportunity for reflection. Think carefully about your performance. Have you been preoccupied with other things recently? Have you been letting things slide?
If your boss asks you to self-evaluate, consider checking out how to write performance reviews for yourself examples so you can present a more objective picture.
Make your job a priority
It’s time to refocus on work. Make sure you have enough time to give your projects the attention they deserve. Show your manager what makes you shine.
Seek help when you need it
Self-improvement is never easy. Fortunately, a performance improvement plan probably means that your company is interested in helping you grow in the right direction. If you feel that you have received an unfair performance improvement plan, be sure to communicate clearly with your boss about how it could be adjusted. Don’t squabble about past incidents. Instead, focus on the future and meet the objectives before you. Make sure to take advantage of the resources available to you.
Although your ego may have taken a hit, it’s more important than ever to keep a positive attitude. Show your manager that you are willing and eager to make the necessary adjustments. To sum up, don’t let small challenges hold you back!
Is a Performance Improvement Plan Bad?
Is a PIP a bad thing? It certainly doesn’t have to be. Employers should never use a PIP as a superficial step before termination. Like salary reviews, pay-for-performance models, and stack ranking, performance improvement plans have consequences.
However, PIPs do offer a legitimate opportunity for growth . If managers conduct a PIP with the intention of listening to their employees’ perspectives, performance improvement plans can be constructive. If employees are open to change, both may be able to work out a plan and learn from the discussion.
By seeking employee evaluation examples, employers will be able to craft the best performance improvement plan possible to get a valued employee on the right track.
Manage Your Performance Reviews with Factorial HR. Try it today with a free 14-day trial.
FAQs about Performance Improvement Plans (PIP)
What is a performance improvement plan (PIP)?
A performance improvement plan (PIP) is a formal document that helps employees who are struggling to meet expectations. It offers an honest appraisal of their performance, identifies performance gaps and areas where they are falling short, and provides precise steps for how they can improve. A PIP includes specific timelines and intermediary goals to guide employees toward improved performance, and it also includes clear consequences for employees who do not meet expectations, which might range from disciplinary action to termination of employment. PIPs help employees to reckon with their shortcomings and become better workers for the company.
The length of a performance improvement plan will depend on the specific goals and objectives outlined in the plan. Generally, PIPs last anywhere from 30 to 90 days, with regular check-ins to track progress and make any necessary adjustments.
Can an employee be terminated after completing a performance improvement plan?
If an employee successfully completes a performance improvement plan and meets all the expectations outlined in the plan, they should not be terminated. However, if an employee fails to meet the goals and expectations outlined in the plan, the employer may decide to terminate their employment.
Can an employee refuse to sign a performance improvement plan?
An employee can refuse to sign a performance improvement plan, but this may have consequences. Refusing to sign the plan could be seen as insubordination and could result in disciplinary action or termination of employment. It is usually better for the employee to sign the plan and work with their manager to address any concerns or issues.
Can a performance improvement plan be used to target specific employees unfairly?
No, a performance improvement plan should only be used when an employee is struggling to meet expectations or is not performing at the required level. It should not be used to target specific employees unfairly or to discriminate against them based on protected characteristics such as race, gender, or age.
How should a manager handle an employee who is resistant to a performance improvement plan?
If an employee is resistant to a performance improvement plan, the manager should try to address their concerns and explain why the plan is necessary. The manager can also offer support and guidance to help the employee meet the goals outlined in the plan. If the employee continues to resist, the manager may need to consider other options such as disciplinary action or termination of employment.
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Very helpful and informative
Getting the best out of people and giving lots of support
This is very insightful giving me a different outlook to pip
A rather complex and ” touchy” subject, explained very well.
Positive take on what to expect
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Write a performance improvement plan (PIP) that really works
Three words that can strike fear into the heart of any employee: performance improvement plan. Performance improvement plans (PIP) give underperforming employees a chance to succeed. But often they’re seen as a red flag — and the first step towards being fired.
A formal document that helps to track and guide work performance, PIPs identify specific areas where employees need to take corrective action. The intention of PIP is often a good one: it’s supposed to help struggling employees in their own improvement process. But data says otherwise. In fact, PIPs often fail to deliver the desired improvement; an estimated 90% of PIPs result in the employee leaving the company.
However, used correctly, PIPs can be a way to avoid unnecessary turnover. To be successful, a PIP needs to be sensitively designed as a collaborative and transparent process.
In many ways, PIPs can be seen as a coaching skill and opportunity. Sure, it’s formally documented as part of performance management . But it’s a tool to help coach the employee to succeed. And building solid coaching skills in conjunction with a PIP can be a good way to help unlock peak performance in your workforce.
A PIP needs to hone in on skill sets, personal issues, and outline attainable employee progress. In this article, we’ll explore:
- What a performance improvement plan (PIP) is
- The benefits and challenges of using a PIP to deal with an employee performance issue
- What an effective performance improvement should include
- How to create a PIP that will actually work
What exactly is a performance improvement plan?
A performance improvement plan (PIP) is a tool to help underperforming employees improve their performance. An effective performance improvement plan should:
- Document existing performance concerns
- Encourage constructive dialogue
- Offer solutions to any identified issues
- Support underachieving employees with actionable steps
- Give the employee a clear understanding of how to improve their performance
- Foster a positive work culture and minimize staff turnover
- Outline additional training an employee might need to improve work performance
“The goal of a personal improvement plan (PIP) is to find out what problems a team member may be having and help them solve them,” says Christiaan Huynen , CEO and founder at DesignBro.
“Having planned conversations with your team members about their successes, challenges, action plans, deadlines, and the tools or resources they need to get the job done is a simple but powerful way to help anyone do their job better.”
The pros and cons of performance improvement plans
PIPs can be effective, but they aren’t always the best solution for poor performance. Here’s what to bear in mind when deciding whether to use a PIP:
Pros of performance improvement plans:
- They allow for timely action when performance deteriorates — the employee knows there’s an issue as soon as it arises
- They offer structure and direction to a struggling employee, so they aren’t left wondering what they need to do to improve their performance
- When executed correctly, a PIP can help the employee feel more motivated and productive at work
- They can empower employees to take ownership of their progress
- They can help the employee to feel that they are being treated fairly
Cons of performance improvement plans:
- They can divert attention away from routine tasks
- The employee may focus exclusively on the issues mentioned in the PIP and neglect their day-to-day role
- Some employees may feel demotivated or unduly stressed by the PIP
- They can lead to difficult conversations , which not every manager is prepared to handle
- Many employees see them as a precursor to dismissal
- They take a lot of time and effort from HR professionals, employees, and their managers
What does a performance improvement plan include?
Ready to create an effective PIP that actually works? Here’s what you’ll want to include:
Resources and training
- Meeting dates or regular check-ins
- Plans for the next steps
A PIP should include an assessment of the employee’s current performance, as well as how they performed in the past. Tracking performance over time can help pinpoint when and why performance started to be an issue. At this point it’s very important to communicate openly and clearly — in case an easy fix can be identified.
To work, a PIP needs clear goals. “Don't set ambiguous, impractical targets,” said David Bitton , co-founder and CMO at DoorLoop. “Goals should always be explicit and measurable, so that employees know what they should strive toward.”
Using the SMART principle of setting Specific, Accurate, Relevant, and Time-Bound goals is a great start. Make sure these goals are discussed and agreed collaboratively.
One example of a goal for an employee struggling with burnout could be to attend one coaching session per month for three months. For someone struggling with time management , you could set a goal for them to clock in on time every day for the duration of the PIP.
It’s also important to state any disciplinary action that may occur if goals aren’t met.
Establish when each goal should be achieved. This will depend on the individual goal and each employee’s situation, but the format of the 30-60-90 day plans you use for onboarding new employees can be a useful starting point. It’s a good idea to include milestones and checkpoints within the period covered by the PIP, to keep the employee on target.
List any additional resources, training or coaching that you will offer to help the employee meet their PIP goals. Employees shouldn’t be expected to complete a PIP without this kind of support. Leaders also need to consider where the budget for these resources will come from.
Regular meetings should be a PIP cornerstone. In addition to one-on-one meetings at the start, middle, and end of a PIP, short weekly check-ins are useful. Real-time feedback should also be added in throughout, from both leaders and employees.
Plans for next steps
For PIPs to work well, transparency is vital . List what will happen after the PIP is completed — both positive and negative outcomes:
- If all PIP goals are met, will the employee go back to regular performance reviews?
- What kind of feedback will you provide?
- What will happen if an employee fails to meet each of their goals?
While it’s hard to discuss possibilities like demotion and dismissal, if those are potential outcomes, they need to be stated, too.
How to create an effective performance improvement plan
A PIP should include an element of self-reflection for the leader writing it, too. Before creating a PIP, leaders should check that their own actions haven’t inadvertently led to this moment.
“Pay close attention to the issues or thoughts raised by each employee as they discuss their PIP,” says Bitton. “ Do not disregard what they say. This not only prevents them from becoming distracted and frustrated with the entire process, but it also uncovers whether a PIP is deserved.”
Instead of a monologue, a PIP discussion should be a dialogue between the manager and the employee, with ample opportunities for 360-degree-reviews of both parties. The employee may well have useful feedback for how their manager could provide more support or clearer guidance.
Make sure that the PIP doesn’t come as a surprise to the employee. Just like other performance management tools, like one-to-ones or end-of-year reviews , PIPs only work as part of a program of ongoing feedback:
“This process should never be the first time a person is receiving feedback on their performance,” said Josh Saterman , CEO and founder at Saterman Connect. “ Meaningful feedback with clear objectives should always have been provided before administering a PIP.”
When it comes to creating a helpful PIP, remember the 3 Cs: collaboration, clarity, and compassion.
A PIP should be viewed as an opportunity to collaborate effectively.
BetterUp data shows that, since the pandemic, the ability of leaders to build relationships with their teams has become a key differentiator for team performance. To resolve performance issues, you need to understand their root cause. “The first step is to spend time getting to know your employee better,” recommends Nikki Pak, founder of Winning in Work.
“Today's world has so much going on, like increases in the cost of living, the aftermath of COVID-19, and geopolitical unrest. Mix that with learning new ways of working and a lot of it being remote, for some employees this has been too much.”
To make sure that the PIP doesn’t add undue pressure onto employees already at risk of burnout , involve the employee in the process:
- Invite them to collaborate in designing a series of performance goals that they see as reasonable.
- Ask for their feedback on the PIP at each stage, to make sure that they find it helpful, not stressful.
- The goal is not to pressure the employee into leaving–it is to help them improve their performance and become a valuable contributor to the team.
Leaders should also involve other departments. “It goes without saying that involving legal, human resources, and other leaders is a critical element in the PIP process,” says Saterman.
“Leaders may have all the best intentions, but there's always room for other experts to guide and partner with them to ensure they’re delivering the most impactful experience for the employee who is going through the PIP process.”
The goals and timelines of each PIP should be crystal clear, as well as any criteria the employee needs to meet along the way.
“As leaders, we need to remember that we hired, onboarded, and invested in our employees. In best practice scenarios, what the PIP process brings to light is that through communication, healthy feedback, and clear expectations, people can be successful,” comments Saterman.
When discussing the PIP, remember that employees may feel worried about the implications. Take a compassionate approach:
- Apply positive feedback principles , such as pointing out things they’re doing well;
- Reassure the employee that you believe they can turn their performance around;
- Use the right phrases to help frame your responses in a compassionate way.
What to avoid when writing a performance improvement plan
When you’re writing your PIP, make sure to avoid:
If an employee doesn’t know how or when they’re supposed to meet their goals, that’s when a PIP can become a major demotivator.
When creating and implementing a PIP for their direct reports within their teams , leaders need to avoid biases. When in comes to writing a PIP, the most common biases you should watch out for include:
- The “horn effect”— whatever an employee does is viewed as negative
- “Just-like-me” bias — the manager only evaluates employees positively if their personality and work approach is similar to that of the manager
Unrealistic time frames
Setting an unrealistic time frame for attaining specific goals can be demotivating. It also sets your employees up for failure. Think of ways you can make their goals attainable in a reasonable stretch of time.
A well-designed PIP can be an opportunity for growth
PIPs may have a poor reputation, but if designed and implemented correctly, they can genuinely help an employee turn their performance around. If used effectively as part of a comprehensive performance management strategy, PIPs can help employees understand exactly where their performance is lacking, get a clear sense of how to improve their work and set tangible goals so they can take ownership of their own improvement.
“Ultimately, a PIP can help us create a stronger connection, where leaders support employees’ development ,” said Saterman. “When done right, the ripple effect is that this person is now adding even more value to the company. This ultimately supports leaders, other colleagues, clients, and the company itself.”
Madeline is a writer, communicator, and storyteller who is passionate about using words to help drive positive change. She holds a bachelor's in English Creative Writing and Communication Studies and lives in Denver, Colorado. In her spare time, she's usually somewhere outside (preferably in the mountains) — and enjoys poetry and fiction.
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