Implement Performance Improvement Plans

Help managers get employee performance back on track.


Your Challenge

  • Managers dread implementing a Performance Improvement Plan (PIP) because they think it’s a waste of time. However, in a recent McLean & Company survey, 68% of employees who were placed on a PIP were still with the organization. When a manager starts the PIP process with a positive attitude towards performance improvement, the PIP is more successful.
  • Poor performance can cost an organization more than just hard dollars. Poor performance negatively impacts employee engagement and productivity, as well as customers and other departments. Addressing poor performance through a timely PIP can minimize this impact.
  • Organizations risk discrimination and legal challenges when performance improvement efforts are seen as unfair and inconsistent. A consistently implemented process for fair and reasonable PIPs can provide solid supporting documentation should the organization face a legal challenge. In fact, 69% of organizations felt that their legal risk was reduced or eliminated as a result of PIP implementation.

Our Advice

Critical Insight

  • Managers must deal with poor performance before it begins to significantly affect other employees and the organization’s bottom line.
  • The PIP process isn’t about preparing for termination; PIPs are about improving performance so that an employee can make positive contributions to the organization.
  • Managers shouldn’t attempt to implement a PIP without HR or legal counsel. The process can become a mine field!
  • A negative attitude towards a PIP is a self-fulfilling prophesy. If the manager thinks the employee will fail, the employee will, because the manager is looking for documentation, not improvement. When a manager takes a positive approach with a motivated employee, both the employee and manager can win.

Impact and Result

Experience less grief in the process by:

  • Recognizing and avoiding the stumbling blocks in addressing performance issues through PIPs.
  • Understanding how different employee situations/profiles affect how the PIP should be approached.
  • Setting fair and reasonable performance expectations with a simple template for drafting the PIP.

Save time by:

  • Following guidelines when developing the PIP.
  • Addressing performance issues before they’ve wasted too much time.
  • Avoiding legal investigations through a well documented and fair process.

Save money by:

  • Avoiding costly legal battles with an understanding of the high level legal vulnerabilities associated with an ineffective PIP process.
  • Turning around an underperforming employee who is impacting other employees’ performance as well as customer experience.
  • Relating the PIP process to the risk tolerance of the organization.

Contributors

Interviews were conducted with the following individuals:

  • Mike Capewell, Consultancy Manager, Dell Corporation, U.K.
  • Geoff Ramey, Director, HR, St. Andrew Goldfields Ltd
  • Linda Haft, HR Consultant, the HR Office, Inc
  • Jacque Rowden, Technology Program Manager, Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP
  • Martha McIver, VP HR, CBRE
  • Jeff Fowler, Quality Control, MOBIS Alabama LLC
  • Rene Melchers, Manager IM/IT, Brockville General Hospital
  • Two individuals have asked to remain anonymous due to sensitivity of information

A survey directed at HR professionals to better understand their experiences with using PIPs and the outcomes they realized attracted over 100 respondents.

Want to Participate in Our Research?

  • Analyst Interviews: Share your best practices, opinions, tools or templates with your peers.
  • Webinars: Interactive session to keep us focused on topics you want to tackle.
  • Upcoming Workshops: We are offering qaulified clients the opportunity to help us road-test our upcoming research.

Become a Participant


Get the Complete Storyboard

See how all the steps you need to take come together, with tools and advice to help with each task on your list.

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Get to Action

  1. Assess whether to implement a performance improvement plan

    Think carefully before implementing a PIP.

  2. Develop and implement a PIP

    Prepare managers to develop and implement effective PIPs.

  3. Coach the employee to improve performance

    Focus on attitude and motivation.

  4. Review whether the employee's performance improved

    Review organizational policies if termination is a possibility, and get legal counsel involved if feasible.

Guided Implementation

This guided implementation is a five call advisory process.

    Guided Implementation #1 - Review the case for PIPs, and help train managers to weigh their options

  • Call #1: Make the case for implementing a performance improvement program

  • Call #2: Train managers to weigh their options

  • Guided Implementation #2 - Review the design of the performance improvement program

  • Call #1: Train managers to develop and deploy PIPs

  • Call #2: Train managers to coach employees on PIPs

  • Call #3: Prepare managers to assess performance


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