How to Conduct a Performance Improvement Programme?

The Performance Improvement Plan (PIP) refers to a document handed to an employee who cannot exceed expectations at work. Submitted by the HR department and the management, the document helps the employee conquer performance drawbacks. 

An employee’s work performance is never linear; on some days, they might produce outstanding results yet lose focus the next day. This happens to everyone, and we must not judge our team for the same as all of us are human.

Managers will notice employees not finishing their work by the set deadlines, not meeting expectations that they once used to or not being available in times of need. Unfortunately, in most cases, managers fail to see their employees as people with real lives and hand them a termination letter. After all, one poor performance affects the company in the long run.

The question is, would you like to promote such an unfeeling work culture in the organisation? Employees undergo personal complications, which leads to burnout, frustration and poor performance. However, if you see a constant decline in your employee’s performance, you should try a performance improvement plan (PIP).

The PIP identifies the cause of sudden poor performance, outlines precise performance and saves time and expenses spent on termination and recruitment process. Using a performance improvement, the management and employees can work together to develop their skillset and experience in a goal-oriented manner.

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Performance Improvement Plan (PIP): The definition

This plan refers to a document handed to an employee who cannot exceed expectations at work. Submitted by the HR department and the management, the document helps the employee conquer performance drawbacks.

The PIP plan states the management’s recommendations for the employee, has an objective and deadline, possible consequences if the requirements are not met (demotion, transfer or even dismissal) and acts as a legal document as well.

Benefits of a Performance improvement plan

As mentioned, the performance improvement plan is a legal document by the company, which strives to understand the employee’s challenges and wants to support them in their career. It highlights the problematic issues, corrective measures and available resources. It is also used for employees who are dissatisfied with their current role, which allows them to shift to suitable or higher positions, boost employee mobility, and save precious resources.

When is a Performance Improvement Plan (PIP) used?

Due to possible consequences, most employees treat performance improvement plans as an invitation to leave.

This must be used carefully, and the HR department should reach out to the particular employee if their productivity has declined, they remain disengaged or are often on unexplained leaves. It must only be used in a sharp deterioration in performance, and there is a need for positive encouragement.

While deciding upon a PIP, determine if it is needed, avoid possible biases related to the employee’s performance, offer unconditional cooperation and keep open communication.

Creating a performance improvement plan

There are multiple reasons for a performance improvement plan sample. Still, the HR department must work with the management to create a practical assessment that empathises with the employee’s challenges and guarantees to support their requirements. An ideal performance improvement plan example includes:

Stage 1: What’s the issue?

Here, you must state the exact issue where the employee is struggling – along with evidential behaviour or shoddy work, which ultimately impacts their performance. State the areas of improvements and possible recommendations to remedy the situation. Employees can explain their position, which would help the HR department make simple changes to their schedule.

Stage 2: What’s the objective?

If you have spoken to the employee about their performance without any impact, set down the objectives in your PIP. Be specific with tangible outcomes, dates and numbers. They should be measurable, trackable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound with check-in gatherings and deadlines.
You must communicate the process to the participants involved in the PIP process. Remember that personal issues exist, but speaking to the management and employees would render a deep understanding without a biased mind.

Stage 3: Do you have another support?

How would you support your employees to improve their performance? Consider training, additional information or managerial assistance. Team support is crucial at this stage, so encourage open communication and the willingness to help. Suggest time management or relaxation techniques to manage their time and working process better.

Stage 4: Do you have a schedule in place?

Now that you have an objective and methodology in place, arrange a schedule with the employee and give them a deadline. Give them regular feedback as per the PIP’s objectives, but point out their achievements to build their confidence. Use an application to inform your employee about upcoming tasks with deadlines.

Explain the consequences if the employee fails to complete the tasks under the PIP’s objectives. The employee should understand the reason behind implementing a PIP.

How could you make the Performance Improvement Plan more effective?

Though an underperforming employee can be a source of frustration for managers, there must be accountability on both sides. As an HR professional, it is your responsibility to maintain an effective and encouraging employee improvement strategy:

  • Listen to the employee and let them respond to the pointers. The performance improvement plan is a collective process. Disengaged employees feel misunderstood or that their needs are not being listened to.
  • Bring out the employee’s positive contributions, which would help them feel appreciated and motivate them to work better.
  • Talk to the employee about possible causes: no growth opportunities, more challenges, or personal issues to understand the work changes and options needed.
  • Have a clear improvement path set out for them so that employees understand the objective, actions and performance metrics to exceed their manager’s expectations
  • Review the employee’s progress, reach out to them regularly and keep them inspired. Talk to them about additional resources and support, with informal check-in meetings that focus on improvement.

How to handle difficult situations?

Handing out a PIP to an employee is not easy, as it must be done with care, caution, concern, respect and support. Otherwise, employees could feel frustrated or get defensive. Here is how you can make the conversation slightly easier:

  • The PIP should reflect a recent trend in poor performance and not one-off situations – which could permanently damage your rapport with the said employee.
  • Document behaviours, as managers can comment on real-time examples rather than make vague statements.
  • Do not make personal attacks. Instead, focus on performance and results over other motives.

Incorporating a PIP performance improvement plan is always a tricky business, so there must be a common understanding between the organisation and employee to improve performance. If the employee does not improve, they know that there are consequences. If you need an expert agency to help you with onboarding professionals, reach out to us at OLX People.


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