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Crafting an Effective Performance Improvement Plan

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When we hear that a performance improvement plan has been imposed on someone in the team or organization, the first thoughts in our minds may be associated with a negative connotation of the concept. Many employees believe that this is the first step a company takes to fire someone.

In reality, this powerful HR tool is used for useful training and feedback. When executed correctly, quickly and effectively, a PIP can lead to very impactful changes in employee performance that are beneficial to both employee and company growth.

It gives you the freedom to address problems in a more constructive way, rather than dismissing the employee prematurely.

What is a performance improvement plan anyway?

Simply put, a performance improvement plan is a documented process for identifying and addressing employee performance gaps and issues. It includes steps to communicate actions or solutions to correct an employee's poor performance within a specific time frame.

A performance improvement plan is a process in which managers and human resources work together to create a training structure for employees who have difficulty keeping up with their colleagues in achieving results.

This helps employees improve their work, which ultimately leads to achieving company goals.

Why pursue a performance improvement plan?

A performance improvement plan creates a culture of feedback and continuous learning that conveys your company's values. Creating a plan for improvement rather than terminating an employee for poor performance is beneficial for both the employee and the company.

Guidance and feedback help employees feel valued and engaged, which helps maintain morale. Employees have the peace of mind that you are investing in them and willing to support their development. This results in lower employee turnover, which increases productivity and reduces your costs.

A good plan will help you understand how to address productivity issues and how to close skills and knowledge gaps. If the expected results do not occur even after applying a PIP, this may be an indication that the training gap is larger than expected, so you may need to take a different approach or extend your schedule. It can also help you identify problems that cannot be fixed with a simple PIP, in which case you may need to take action such as termination or changing scope.

How do you create a performance improvement plan?

Creating a performance improvement plan is not always the same as factors may vary from team to team and department to department as the nature of the work may vary and the nature of performance evaluation is not always the same.

However, you should keep the following steps in mind to help you find the right approach when you need to implement a performance improvement plan for an employee and to help you set up a process to quickly address productivity issues can.

Define the goals of the PIP

When preparing the PIP, keep in mind that you may need to customize it for each employee as we all have different learning paces. Defining the goal will help you determine how to approach the issue to achieve that goal.

Share what results you want to see at the end of the plan. Can you quantify these results? Setting goals lays the foundation for your plan.

Establishing schedules

Now that you have set your goals, you need to set a schedule for when the employee should achieve the set goal.

The timeline may depend on the company, the employee's role, and the issue at hand. As a rule of thumb, you can use a standard period of 30 days, 60 days or 90 days.

Create the plan

Determine exactly what steps should be taken to achieve the goal and try to understand what works best for the employee to achieve those goals. Be sure to communicate what will happen if the goal is successfully achieved and what the consequences will be if the employee does not achieve the goal.

Communicate the plan with the employee

Once the plan is in place, you must inform the employee of his or her under performance and what management plans to do about it.

Explain the goal to the employee, share the plan and how you will achieve the goal, and get the employee's feedback if they have any. Make sure employees understand their part in this.

Implement the plan and track progress

Once you have discussed the plan with employees and they understand their role in it and how they will achieve the goals, you can begin putting the plan into action.

Start working on the specific goals within the specified time frame and track progress and check whether the goals are achieved on time.

Evaluate progress and decide on further steps

If the goals or end results are quantifiable, review progress at the end of the deadline and determine whether the expected goal was achieved.

If the goal is not quantifiable, measure progress using other methods to verify that the goal has been achieved.

When the goal has been achieved, you can withdraw the plan and explain to the employee what support is needed from your side to maintain the success achieved.

However, if the goal has not been achieved, you may need to take action, which may include termination or other changes.

Performance Improvement (PiP) for a hybrid workforce

Since the outbreak of the pandemic, work and office environments have changed fundamentally! We can see that many organizations have adopted a hybrid workforce, which has led to confusion when it comes to performance evaluation.

For example, if an employee is working remotely and struggling, does that mean they always have to be in the office?

Let's share a few pointers that can help you create a performance improvement plan for a diverse workforce.

First, do the PiPs we had before remote work still work?

This depends on the process that was used previously. Generally, a performance improvement plan is, and should continue to be, created by managers in collaboration with HR. However, it can be a little more complex if people don't work together, but it is important that managers and HR work together to create and edit performance improvement plans.

Regardless of whether the interview is conducted in person or virtually, it is important that HR and managers work together to develop the PIP.

The same PIP is not necessarily suitable for all departments in a company; A good PIP should be tailored to individual departments, but still be consistent across the company.

Together, they can ensure that expectations are clearly communicated and that they are properly documented. Proper documentation ensures efficiency, promotes transparency of the entire process and helps build trust among employees.

Are your managers prepared to lead an external team?

Managing a team in the office can be very different from managing a team remotely. Companies may have initially ignored this because they assumed remote work was temporary, but now it's pretty clear that remote work is here and not going away anytime soon.

It now becomes a necessity for the managers to be trained to handle and manage a team remotely.

Do you have all the necessary means of communication? Are all meetings scheduled on time? Make sure your managers understand that there will always be downtime, even when employees are working from the office, e.g. for a short coffee break or a conversation with another colleague. It's also not fair to expect employees to constantly sit at their desks and type something when they're working remotely. It's okay to take a walk while on a call, as long as you don't have to constantly look at the screen or take notes.

Are your managers building the same kind of relationships with new employees as they do with older employees?

In the last two years, it has been observed that the companies have been facing high turnover and most of these fluctuations have affected the newly hired employees.

Building and maintaining a relationship with your employees can be difficult and challenging, but it is important for a healthy and happy team. Knowing more about a person allows you to empathize with them better and improves the morale of the entire team because you work better with people with whom you have empathy and a personal connection.

Managers should take time for team-building activities so that employees get to know each other better.

This also helps at work. When employees are cooped up in their home offices, they may not know where to turn for help. Help your employees get to know each other as this promotes engagement and strengthens the company culture.

In summary, we need to pay attention to details to improve our employees' performance because when working remotely we may not be able to see them regularly, leaving us in the dark about how they are doing outside of their work.

The things that impact a person's job performance are not always work-related, and it is important that employees feel comfortable enough to share what is on their mind and what may be happening affects their work or performance.

It's important to remember that you can only help someone improve if you know what exactly is stopping them from getting better.


PIPs are the key factor in unlocking employee potential to achieve company goals. To achieve this benefit, you can determine how the plan will be implemented. You can also create PIP templates to make it easy for you to get started and work.

The powerful HR tool, if used correctly, should not pose a threat to the employee, but rather demonstrate the company's willingness to invest in its growth and future within the company.

Unlock employee potential with Performance Improvement Plans (PIPs). Invest in growth, not termination. Discover how IceHrm can streamline your HR processes.

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