A Look at Both Sides of the Performance Improvement Plan



Are Performance Improvement Plans useful? 

A widely held belief is that the underlying purpose of a Performance Improvement Plan is to begin the documentation process toward termination.  This might be the case.  But it may not be.

Employers spend considerable time and money searching for a candidate and even more time and money training that employee to carry out the job responsibilities.  Employers generally want to work with employees and try to retain them.

When an employee isn’t meeting the job requirements, a Performance Improvement Plan (PIP) may be necessary to set clear expectations.  There are several reasons an employee’s performance may be unsatisfactory and it will benefit all parties to document the issues and outline acceptable performance.

A good PIP will include documentation of these performance issues and a concise action plan for improvement which should list quantifiable and achievable goals.  It is recommended that a 3rd party review the plan, ensuring it is complete and appropriate.  During the meeting with the employee, the employer must clearly review all details, listening to the employee’s feedback and modifying the plan if necessary.  Both parties should sign the form after the meeting.  Regularly scheduled follow-up meetings are critical, with feedback being supplied by the supervisor and input encouraged from the employee.   If it becomes apparent that the employee is unable or unwilling to improve, options include reassignment, transfer, demotion or termination.

How to respond if you are met with a PIP

The first question you should ask yourself is: Are these issues valid?  Your second question might be: Do I want to change my behavior to meet the PIP or is now the time to update that resume and look elsewhere for employment.  Maybe this job isn’t what you thought it would be; maybe you have grown in ways that take you in a different direction.

Be honest with yourself and your supervisor.  Do you think the plan is achievable?  Do you intend to work toward meeting the goals set out in the plan?  Carefully review the goals outlined in the plan and determine with the person reviewing the PIP with you, whether or not the goals are specific and realistic.

Be a professional and be honest with both yourself and your employer.  This is not the time for accusations or confrontation.   If you feel you have legitimate reasons that excuse you from the expectations outlined, now is your chance to professionally discuss those limitations.  Would you benefit from additional training or were you unaware of the expectations?   State your case professionally and follow up in writing.


Again, it is worth mentioning that businesses spend a great deal on recruitment and training.  Human resources are their largest asset.  Both the company and the employee win if the Performance Improvement Plan is a success.

If you are a business that needs advice on a specific human resource situation, BlueFire HR Consulting can help.    We offer strategic and operational human resource solutions for many organizations.  If you would like to support your managers with additional training, we can assist also.  We are certified in Professional Coaching.

Likewise, BlueFire HR Consulting offers Career Coaching.  This is a beneficial tool for anyone questioning their employment situation.  We can help you assess your strengths, assist you with resume and LinkedIn updates, provide tips to begin a career search, and interview preparation.

Visit our website for more information.

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