Establishing a Performance Improvement Plan

When an employee fails to live up to your performance requirements, it is in everyone’s best interest to open communication with them to address the situation. A performance improvement plan (PIP), also known as a performance action plan, can be an effective way to allow employees to make changes needed to correct problems, overcome deficiencies, and improve their performance. If necessary, a failed or unsuccessfully completed PIP may also be used as evidence or support in any ultimate disciplinary action, including termination. Ideally, a PIP should only be used to address performance deficiencies. Behavior problems should be addressed through discipline since it is best to require immediate cessation or reversal of any behavior problems.

Documentation of Performance Issues

The first step in developing a PIP is to document the exact issues the employee faces. The report should be objective and specific, including information such as:

  • Employee’s name
  • Dates
  • Expected performance versus actual performance
  • Previous performance problems, if relevant
  • Consequences of performance gap
  • Signatures from the employee and the manager
  • Evaluation of the plan

Plan of Action

Once the issues are documented, a performance action plan must be put together. This plan, usually prepared by the employee’s supervisor, should include measurable and attainable goals that adhere to performance expectations. The supervisor should also evaluate whether additional training or resources are needed to help the employee attain those goals. Management should provide specific aids to ensure success.

Once the plan and goals are put together, they should be reviewed with HR or the supervisor’s manager prior to presenting them to the employee in question.

Meeting with the Employee

Once the plan is finalized, it should be reviewed with the employee. Feedback he or she provides may need to be incorporated into the plan to make it actionable. Also, this gives the employee an opportunity to ask questions to clarify what is expected. All those present should sign and date the action plan.

Follow Up and Conclusion

When the plan is in effect, consistent follow up is needed to support the employee in making needed improvements. Weekly, biweekly, or even monthly meetings can help track progress and answer further questions or concerns.

If the employee fails to live up to expectations set forth in the PIP, a transfer, demotion, or termination may be necessary. If, however, he/she is making a good faith effort to improve, adjustments to the time frame or plan objectives may be made.

Organizations typically create a performance improvement plan template that can be adapted for use in a variety of situations. For assistance with a PIP template, contact the employment attorneys at Simon |Paschal PLLC at (972) 893-9340.

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