How to Implement Performance Improvement Plans
By Kevin Rivera on 03/04/2018
A performance improvement plan (PIP) is a good way to give struggling employees the opportunity to succeed while still holding them accountable for past performance. PIPs may be used to address failures to meet specific job performance-related issues or behavior-related concerns. PIPs may lead to several different outcomes, including improvement in overall performance, the recognition of a skills or training gap, or remedial actions such as demotion or termination.
The measuring period for a PIP should generally be 30, 60 or 90 days, although 30 days may not really provide an adequate amount of time in which to measure an employee’s progress. If an employee goes on an extended leave (vacation, sick days, pregnancy leave, etc.) during the middle of the review period, extend the review period accordingly by the same number of days/weeks.
The following steps should be followed in administering a PIP:
- Identify performance issues and performance goals, and hold meetings with the employee to get his/her input for how to meet those goals: Identify performance-related issues to be addressed by the PIP, as well as the improvement goals for addressing the performance issues. Have a meeting with the employee to address the problem issues, and goals for improvement. The employee’s supervisor and another member of management or HR should be in attendance. At the meeting, get the employee’s input for activities he or she will perform in order to meet the improvement goals. For example, after you have identified the issues and goals, ask the employee how he or she plans to meet those goals. This is important so that the employee is involved in setting up realistic ways to improve their performance. You can also recommend improvement activities, but it is important you get input from the employee. If the employee is unable to improve, this counters any argument that the improvement activities were unrealistic or impossible, since the employee himself or herself helped select them.
- Complete PIP, give to Employee, and place in personnel file: After the meeting, complete the PIP, sign and date it, and obtain the employee’s signature. If the employee refuses to sign, record the date it was provided and that the employee refused to sign. Give the employee a copy of the signed PIP, and place the PIP in his or her personnel file.
- Hold weekly or biweekly progress meetings: Hold weekly or biweekly progress meetings with the employee to discuss his or her progress at the durations set forth in the PIP. After each meeting, document the employee’s progress in a separate document, sign and date it, and obtain the employee’s signature.
- After the review period, hold a final progress meeting with employee. After the 30, 60 or 90-day review period is up, hold a final progress meeting with the employee. The employee’s supervisor and another member of management or HR should be in attendance. If the employee has met the PIP’s goals, you can inform the employee that he or she is being taken off the PIP, but that failure to maintain performance expectations in the future may lead to disciplinary action. If the employee has not improved, consider appropriate steps, such as demotion, transfer or termination. Draft a written assessment to document whether or not the employee has met the goals outlined in the PIP and place in the employee’s personnel file.
These steps will hopefully lead to improved job performance, but if not, you will at least have evidence that you have taken proper steps to put the employee on notice of their deficient performance issues, and that the employee was given the opportunity to improve. Evidence of these steps is crucial if you must end up terminating the employee for performance reasons.
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