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4 Min. Read

What Is a Performance Improvement Plan & How to Create One?

What is a Performance Improvement Plan & How to Create One?

If things aren’t going to plan with one of your employees, a Performance Improvement Plan may be the way forward. This guide will show you how to make one!

Is one of your employees just not up to snuff?

Perhaps they are constantly late. Maybe they have poor performance at work and there’s no reasonable explanation for it.

As a manager, it may be time to call in your employee for a performance review. After that review, it is customary in the HR sector to produce a Performance Improvement Plan. They are sometimes known as Performance Action Plans too.

What is a Performance Improvement Plan? Read on to learn all about it.

Here’s What We’ll Cover:

What Is an Employee Performance Improvement Plan?

When Should You Issue a Performance Improvement Plan?

How to Create an Effective Performance Improvement Plan

Key Takeaways

What Is an Employee Performance Improvement Plan?

A Performance Improvement Plan or PIP is a tool used to help plan and monitor the progress of your employee’s performance. It is typically done after a period of performance issues.

At a fundamental level, once an employee is on a Performance Improvement Plan, it’s like a probationary period. You are keeping a closer eye on their day to day work activities to make sure that they are progressing in the right direction.

It’s somewhat of a disciplinary step but not entirely. You should view this more as an opportunity to support your employees, rather than chastise them. Positive reinforcement is key.

Structurally, a Performance Improvement Plan is made up of three key parts:

  1. An initial job performance review meeting with your employee to set job goals and targets together
  2. A document outlining the objectives and tasks included in your PIP
  3. Scheduled check-ins to monitor progress

When Should You Issue a Performance Improvement Plan?

You may be tempted to start your employee on an improvement plan as soon as things start going awry. However, this is bad HR. Your employee needs to know what they are doing wrong well before it gets to performance review stages.

Remember that a PIP is a structured monitoring process so it shouldn’t be taken lightly.

It makes sense to implement an employee improvement plan after a few warnings. It shouldn’t come out of the blue. This is highly unethical.

In terms of situations that best lend themselves to this method of performance review, here are some suggestions:

  • If a good employee is showing signs of struggle in some key areas of their work. You can support them with a clearly outlined PIP.
  • If an employee is consistently underperforming over a period of time, with no signs of self-improvement.
  • If an employee is struggling with personal issues and it is affecting their work. In this case, the PIP is a support plan to integrate sustainable work practices until they are back on their feet.

How to Create an Effective Performance Improvement Plan

  1. Set a meeting with your employee

    This meeting is to discuss what’s going wrong and brainstorm ideas for improvement. You want this to be a conversation - not an interrogation or argument. Calmly explain the issues you’ve been concerned about and involve the employee in their own improvement plan. The aim is to think of achievable goals together, as well as task lists to achieve those goals. The more involved the employee feels in this process, the higher chances of success

  2. Create a structured PIP document

    It’s good to have the PIP you have devised together in writing. This makes it easy to follow. You and your employee will literally be on the same page if everything is clearly mapped out.

    You can outline your document however you choose. Our recommendation would be:

    - Identified Issues
    - Overall goals
    - Time period that you will be monitoring performance
    - Progression milestones to achieve
    - Suggestion of tasks that will help achieve goals
    - Links to resources that could help your employee on their journey e.g time management course
    - Consequences if improvements are not made e.g disciplinary action

  3. Schedule check-ins

    You don’t want to spy on employees. So agree together when you’ll speak to check in on your employee’s progress. There should also be a final review end date when most goals should be achieved by.

Key Takeaways

A good PIP helps steer your employees in the right direction while making them feel supported. We hope this article helped you create a PIP for your employee’s needs.

For more management guides like this one, head to our resource hub.