Performance Improvement Plan

A performance improvement plan is a formal process used by companies to help employees improve performance or modify behavior. Think of a PIP is as an interim performance evaluation that focuses on specific performance issues rather than overall performance.

Fundamentally, a PIP is a structured communication tool designed to facilitate constructive discussion between the employee and the supervisor. An effective PIP will:

  • State performance to be improved; be specific and cite examples.
  • State the level of work performance expectation and that it must be performed on a consistent basis.
  • Identify and specify the support and resources you will provide to assist the employee.
  • Communicate your plan for providing feedback to the employee. Specify meeting times, with whom and how often. Specify the measurements you will consider in the evaluating progress.
  • Specify possible consequences if performance standards are not met.
  • Provide sources of additional information such as the Employee Handbook.

A Performance Improvement Plan can be given in lieu of disciplinary action. PIPs are less discipline and more of a coaching system. Some common uses for the PIP include:

  • To correct workplace behaviors affecting performance, productivity or staff relationships.
  • On the heels of an unsatisfactory annual review.
  • To provide employees an opportunity to correct a situation rather than implementing a more serious step in the disciplinary process.
Early communication and early feedback (both positive and corrective) are good ways to prevent future performance problems. Investing time early is always time well spent and the performance improvement plan can be an effective tool in preventing problems from getting worse or for intervening when performance and/or workplace behaviors have become counterproductive.

For a full detailed list of suggested sample goals, see “Performance Improvement Plan Sample Goals” To learn how to use the downloadable spreadsheets, please see “Performance Improvement Plan Form Instructions”.