Managing employee performance can be one of the most difficult jobs as a supervisor. As an employee, not receiving timely critiques from a supervisor can become frustrating and it may seem that the supervisor is setting the employee up to fail by not clearly outlining expectations. Performance Improvement Plans (PIPs) are a type of coaching method that supervisors can use to provide a written outline to an employee highlighting areas in need of improvement. A common misconception is that a PIP is only a form of discipline, when in actuality it may accompany verbal or written discipline or it can be given to an employee as a part of goal-oriented discussions. For example, a PIP can be a useful tool during succession planning to assist satisfactory performing employees grow to their full potential or to further improve upon existing good work traits.
Providing an employee with a PIP requires a commitment from the supervisor and the employee to see the plan through; this may require the following:
- Regular meetings to discuss progress or roadblocks
- Timely review of the employee’s work to make sure it meets expectations during the plan
- Adjustments to the plan if the employee is struggling or excelling [which may prompt early conclusion of the plan]
Effective plans should have a stated objective, such as:
This plan is being provided to you based on our recent discussion regarding your work performance. Following this plan should result in better performance and eliminate certain deficiencies in your work.
Followed by specific examples of work traits or tasks in need of improvement, such as:
The financial report is due to your supervisor on the 15th of each month. You have been consistently late submitting this report. It is recommended that you begin gathering the necessary data on the 5th of the month. An initial draft report should be sent to me for review by the 10th of each month, so any corrections or adjustments can be made before the deadline on the 15th.
It should also indicate the assessment period, such as:
Over the next 3 months, I will communicate and meet with you regularly to discuss your progress. If you are unable to complete the plan by [DATE] or the need arises to conclude the plan early, this may lead to discipline, up to and including termination of employment if the action is prompted by unsatisfactory work performance or other policy violations. If an employee on a PIP is an at-will employee, the general at-will language can be added in this section.
PIPs that are given to satisfactory performing employees may include an outline of educational courses, seminars, and conferences that must be attended in a specific time period. Regardless of the reason for the PIP, it is only a useful tool when both the employee and the supervisor are committed to the process. Samples of PIPs can be provided by human resource management associations, such as the Society For Human Resource Management at www.shrm.org.