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A performance improvement plan (PIP), also known as a performance action plan, is a tool to give an employee who has performance deficiencies the opportunity to succeed. It may be used to address failures to meet specific job goals or to improve behavior-related problems.

Outcomes may vary, including improvement in overall performance; the recognition of a skills or training gap; or possible employment actions such as a transfer, demotion or termination.

The role of Human Resources in this process includes:

>Determining whether a PIP is the appropriate action for the situation.

>Administering all PIPs in conjunction with the manager to prevent bias.

>Providing ongoing guidance to both the manager and employee throughout the plan.

Critical to the success of a PIP is working together with the employee in its construction, including the resources the employee may feel they need in order to raise their performance to a satisfactory level. This collaboration helps develop in the employee a greater sense of ownership which makes it more likely the employee will improve their performance.

By combining the aspects of coaching, feedback, and goal setting, employees are presented a concrete road map of performance initiatives that they want to achieve, along with developmental training on how they can succeed throughout their role.

When the need for a PIP arises, it is important to look at the underlying factors. The root-cause of the situation may not be as easy as “performance.” Should the employee volunteer to you information unrelated to work which they claim is causing their performance to suffer, partner with your Human Resources representative to ensure the situation is handled properly. Being fair and empathetic to the employee is certainly very important, but just as important is ensuring that you mitigate risk to the company.

Be careful in handling a recently hired employee not meeting performance expectations. If the employee “misrepresented” themselves on their resume, which I hear at times from managers, whose fault is it that the company is now in this situation? It falls directly on the shoulders of those who hired the employee and the lack of thorough competency-based interview questions, which are intended to vet unqualified candidates. Once hired, whether yesterday or 10 years ago, every employee deserves the chance to improve their performance in a realistic and fair period of time.




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