All you need to know about Performance Improvement Plan

Updated: Jan 03, 2019 UTC
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What is Performance Improvement Plan?

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Performance Improvement Plan is basically a structured and formal plan stating the issues pertaining to an employee’s performance at work and defining the specific steps to improve the same giving valued and fixable goals. No doubt, it is a difficult situation for the manager to handle an employee who is working but the performance is not coming up to the mark. However, keeping an employee with low performance can affect the employees who are working along. It gives them the negative impact of the organization that they are not taking any required steps and are not serious about the desired outcomes, maintaining consistency in work, and keeping standards of high performance.

Pros of Performance Improvement Plan

Performance Improvement Plan can help a lot to the employees as well as the organizations. Most of the times, the employees are not aware of the issues they are facing or don’t take the performance outcome seriously. The formal plan can have various benefits like:

  • It gives assurance to other employees that the proper feedback, a fair process to improve, as well as an opportunity to improve their performance, will be given to them as well
  • It empowers the employees to take charge of their performance and achieve the targets in the mentioned duration and improve the areas of concern
  • It also proves to make an employee one of the stronger performer
  • With formal document issued to the under-performing employee, the organization saves itself from any litigations in case the performance is not up to the mark and termination happens

Cons of Performance Improvement Plan

However, the process has some disadvantages as well to put an employee on the formal plan to improve his performance.

  • It needs a lot of efforts to put it into place if done properly
  • It is usually different from the regular workflow and hence distraction is there for the managers and the other employees in the team
  • Most of the times, the conversations happen between the managers and the employees are not with the comfort before and after the plan
  • It is very common to have unsuccessful performance improvement plan because it depends on a lot of outcomes desired
  • PIP is considered as the first step to remove you from the job by most of the employees. In this case, they may not take the feedback in a positive sense, they may not be able to perform better in the pressure and negativity around them related to their performance, and in the worst case, they may even go the extended leaves to comfort themselves

It all starts with Conversation

Before putting any employee on performance improvement plan, the first step is the conversation. And this conversation must be in detail discussing every point in terms of the deliverables, hard work, outcomes, desired outcomes, level of satisfaction, and expectations. It shouldn’t be the case that the manager calls the employee into the cabin and unexpectedly hand over the PIP document to sign. This can affect negatively and may not give you the desired results. The first meeting should be without any document in hand giving him at least a week’s time to improve and if still, the issue pertains, handing over the PIP document makes sense.


Finally, the managers and the HR professionals need to know that once you have initiated a Performance Improvement Plan, it becomes a serious undertaking.  It means if the employee doesn’t meet the goals mentioned in it, the employee will lose his job.  You need to be prepared for such an outcome before you issue performance improvement plan, and should talk to someone who can think the best for the company as well as the employee.

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