What the $#@% is a PIP?!

A PIP or Performance Improvement Plan is tool a manager gives an employee when performance needs improvement.  The goal is to sit down with the employee and review the issue(s) and set a time frame and action plan for improvement. I like to think of them as a written warning with promise.  I have done PIPs when I have an employee who has a lot of potential and/or some great skills but is lacking in other areas.  I mostly give them to employees who I don’t want to lose and have faith that they are a good fit for the company and will be open to input.  Those who I don’t think will make the cut or are not open to input, I just don’t bother spending the time to write a PIP for.

There are some great templates online, some of which I have linked below.  The PIP form I use is a combination of a few forms I found online and edited to fit my company’s values and culture.

When to do a PIP and when to terminate – If an employee is struggling to hit their goals but they have promise and numerous other great qualities, a PIP is a way to hit the reset button and set a path for success.  If an employee has broken policy (or policies) and is just not working out, you need to head down the road to termination.

What are the goals for a successful PIP? – The goals for a PIP are to speak clearly to an employee about the issues you are seeing in a positive way.  A PIP is not a review, it most likely will contain only negative feedback so you need to find ways to make it helpful and as positive as possible.

What sort of time line should a PIP include? – A successful PIP should include a time frame that is long enough to see improvement but short enough that you are not investing too much time on an employee who is just not going to work out.  You should set goals to check in weekly, biweekly, or at a minimum monthly so that you can discuss and track progress and re structure as needed.

What should a PIP include? – The PIP should include details on the employees duties in which they are under performing and what the expected performance is.  It should include action items that the employee can reference and work to improve, they should be short reminders of what you have discussed in more detail in your PIP meeting. The PIP should include dates for your check ins as well as details on the consequences if performance is not improved.

How to conduct a PIP meeting – As I mentioned, keep the meeting positive, even though the content is negative.  You are basically ripping apart this employee’s performance so they are going to be sensitive to start.  Start by explaining the goal of the PIP is to help them get the training and tools for success. Remind them that you are investing the time because you believe that they are a good fit for your company but their performance in some areas needs improvement. Be clear with your reasoning for the PIP and your action plan for them.  Make sure they understand the issue and all of the tools and training options you are offering for improvement. Ask lots of questions, you never know, the issue may not be the employee after all, it might be the position or your company. End things by reminding the employee of the good they are doing and that you are there for them.

The goal is to help the employee, not put them down. The last thing you want it an employee to walk out of a PIP meeting feeling discouraged.  While a PIP is focused on what an employee is under performing at, it doesn’t have to make them feel like a failure.

Here is a link to a very simple, short PIP template

This website has tons of templates ranging from simple to complex


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