P.I.P. Management

P.I.P. Management 266 246 Leland

What is a Performance Improvement Plan and How Does it Work?

Most managers have heard of a Performance Improvement Plan (PIP), but only some understand the details and how to utilize one effectively. This blog post will explain a PIP, why it’s necessary, who is responsible for its success or failure, and how to use it.

Coaching leaders and individuals through the PIP process can be challenging. I have assisted leaders in managing the PIP process and coached individuals who are on a PIP.    Early in my career, a leader attempted to place me on a PIP but failed to understand the true meaning of the process. It imploded on delivery, but that’s a story for another day. 

 I can’t stress enough the importance of understanding the severity of it and the incredible opportunity to improve an employee’s performance. 

What is a PIP?

A PIP is a process that helps employees address specific performance issues and work toward improvement. Leaders should use it to help employees meet expected job performance standards and provide professional development. The goal of the PIP process should be to document performance issues through objective measurements so that the employee can see their progress over time.

Why Is It Necessary?

Managers need policies that allow them to address performance issues quickly and fairly. A PIP will enable managers to open up with employees about areas where they need improvement without resorting to disciplinary action such as suspension or termination. It also allows the employee to take ownership of their development by setting goals for themselves and tracking their progress against those goals.

Who Is Responsible For Its Success Or Failure?

There is a joint responsibility between the leader and the employee. The leader is ultimately responsible for the success or failure of the team because they are responsible for setting the vision, assigning roles and responsibilities, providing guidance, and ensuring that everyone on the team works together towards a common goal. As part of this responsibility, they must ensure that everyone on their team understands expectations and receives consistent feedback regarding their performance. If anyone on the team is not meeting expectations, then it falls on the leader’s shoulders to implement a plan such as a Performance Improvement Plan (PIP) to get back on track.                   

How Does It Work?  

A PIP should begin with an initial meeting between the manager/leader and employee where expectations are reviewed in detail, including any areas where improvement is needed. After this initial conversation, measurable objectives should be set to track progress over time. At the end of this process, both parties should review progress made against objectives set at the beginning to determine whether further action needs to be taken or if goals are met. The manager/leader should provide regular feedback throughout this process so that improvements can be made as required, along with any necessary coaching or training resources provided by management if necessary.

 A Performance Improvement Plan (PIP) can be an effective tool for helping employees address specific performance issues while providing them with professional growth and development opportunities. When properly implemented, a PIP can help ensure employees are performing up-to-standard while also giving them ownership over their professional development, which leads to increased engagement from all team members! However, managers/leaders must remember that they are ultimately responsible for its success or failure since they are responsible for setting expectations, providing guidance, and ensuring everyone works together towards common goals within their organization..

5 Steps to Effective Performance Improvement Plans

  1. Define Goals: This is the first step in the performance management process for Individuals.  It involves defining the organization’s objectives and the specific performance goals for the executive that will help the organization to achieve its overall goals. Work with the employee to develop a plan that outlines the steps they will take to meet their goals and improve their performance.
  2. Set Standards: This step involves setting measurable standards for the individual’s performance that align with the organization’s goals. Setting realistic goals for improvement with specific timelines. Usually, an action plan is timebound, so be mindful of current projects, PTO, vacations, etc. Rule of thumb: Although exceptions exist, most PIPs should never exceed 60 days. 
  1. Monitor Progress: This step involves monitoring the individual’s progress toward meeting the set performance standards. Provide specific feedback regularly to ensure that the individual is on track to meet the goals. 
  2. Provide Feedback: This is an essential step in the performance management process for leaders. Offering regular feedback and support to the individual as they work towards their goals. Hold the employee accountable for their lack of progress (if needed) and re-enforce consequences if they do not meet their goals
  3. Review Overall Performance: This step involves reviewing the individual’s performance for the entirety of the PIP. This is important to ensure that the individual clearly understands where they stand in meeting the PIP goals.
  1. Dignity, grace, and honesty are essential. PIPs should not surprise the individual or you if operating below standard. Treat the individual with respect due to two professionals.  It has to be on both sides. 
  1. Reward Success: This is the final step in the performance management process for executives. It involves recognizing and rewarding individuals for meeting or exceeding their performance goals. Acknowledge and celebrate the employee’s successes and improvements along the way.

A well-designed and properly implemented PIP can be a valuable tool for improving someone’s performance and contributing to the success of an organization or team. It can only happen when leaders take full responsibility for employee and team success and give timely, specific feedback. The ultimate goal is for the PIP process is to make it a rare occurrence.

Support the PIP Reduction Act;  lead your team, keep them informed, and model the expected behavior.

Peace, Leland

Disclaimer: These are my independent thoughts on Performance Improvement Plans.  These suggestions are to assist you in the process and have a point of reflection.