Performance Improvement Plans or PIPs as we like to call them, are meant to provide that last ditch effort to guide employees in the right direction…before they’re let go.
PIPs are designed to indicate the area where performance is lacking, which steps to take to make immediate and sustained improvements and outlines what will happen next if improvement does not occur. However, what your manager may not tell you is that there is a strong likelihood you will not improve …and this PIP is a legal way of “dotting their i’s and crossing their t’s”….in other words, making sure you’ve been given a “final warning” so that when the hammer drops, you can’t say you were surprised.
On the flip side, PIPs should only be given if there is a strong indication that the employee will actually improve. Giving a PIP to an employee you know will never succeed (maybe the role is not a fit or the skill set is just not there) only provides false hope…remember, that employee needs the job. If they lose the job, it not only affects their life, but the lives of those connected to them…(think children, spouse, etc). If you’re delivering a PIP, strive to be as transparent as possible. Don’t string them along…
Given the performance management process at many organizations, we often fail in the area to provide regular, consistent feedback and coaching…and if this is the case at your place of employment, that PIP you just received might be the first time you’re aware there’s an issue…or, you may have thought you’d made progress because there was no follow-up after the initial coaching session.
If you’ve never received feedback and this is the first you’re hearing of it, take the opportunity to express a rebuttal…and take it up with HR. After all, the biggest mistake of performance evaluators is “not following up with employees to check on progress.”
The below info graphic from HR.BLR.com gives you an idea where the performance management process is lacking in it’s own right…and why PIPs may not actually be improving anything at all. Understand where your process is and where it needs to be improved…start there…proceed with coaching, feedback and follow through…and then use the PIP when/if needed for those who are likely to benefit.
BLR’s Performance Management Survey: By HR.BLR.com