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How to Create a Performance Improvement Plan (PIP)

If you've run a company for any period of time, you have likely come across an underperformer at least a few times. How did you handle them? Did you fire them the first time they messed up? Did you overlook the issue until it caused an undeniable disturbance to company operations? There are so many ways to go about corrective measures and a PIP is a great opportunity to help employees reach their full potential. Though the employee may not respond with all smiles to your critiques, creating a PIP ultimately shows that you care about the success of your employees while simultaneously saving you the expense of termination and re-hires.

When to Implement a PIP

Contrary to popular belief, PIPs should not be used as the documentation process when you've already decided to fire someone. While the documentation can be helpful in certain cases, this should be viewed as a positive opportunity to invest in one of your employees. It's not the beginning of the end, but a second chance to make things right and hopefully see a renewed spirit and desire to exceed from your employee. We recommend that a PIP occur over a 60-day period to allow for improvement, but this can vary depending on the HR company or department. However, healthcare industries should take note that this time period may be reduced if the negative behaviors compromise the level of patient care or impact required documentation.

Qualities of a Good Performance Improvement Plan

  • Collaboration. Being talked with is different from being talked at. Opening the doors for conversation and collaboration can actually make the PIP more successful. When discussing the issues with your employee, keep a positive tone, and make sure they have room to express themselves and their concerns.
  • No Rushing. This conversation is a serious one and should be had when both parties have time to thoroughly discuss the issue at hand and the subsequent list of expectations. You don't want to cut this kind of meeting short as it could leave the employee more confused which will harm their performance rather than help.
  • Identify Root of the Issue. Often, there is a reason that your employee is underperforming whether they know it or not. Have they not received proper training? Are they not qualified for the job? Do they have personal issues inhibiting them from high-level performance? All of these things could be factors. Some are easily fixable, others are not, but it's worth the conversation to identify the root of the issue and see what can be done.
  • Create a SMART Goal. In the words of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, "A goal without a plan is just a wish." Create a plan that is: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. This doesn't leave room for interpretation and gives your employee the direction and time needed to correct their behavior.
  • Keep Checking In. If you have a 60-day plan, have this big discussion, and then set your employee loose to accomplish the goals you've set for them, they might not be as successful as they could be. Create a schedule of follow-up meetings for milestones so progress can be addressed. Have an open dialogue and learn how you can help your employee succeed for the sake of themselves and the company.

Failure isn't fatal. It's an opportunity to learn and expand, and that's what PIPs cater to – the opportunity to be better. We hope you have great success in completing Performance Improvement Plans. We would be happy to assist you!

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