When an employee’s performance starts to dwindle, it not only impacts your office, but your business performance too. It isn’t always easy to address these types of issues, but it’s necessary. Generally, Performance Improvement Plans (PIPs) are developed by the employee’s supervisor to identify specific areas of poor performance, documents actions and measures, as well as the deadlines as to when the performance needs to improve. This is the bare-bones formula, but how do you tailor it to your employee?
What Goes into the Plan?
Before you even meet with the employee, you need to think about a few things: what your employee needs to improve (and specific examples of that performance), what you want your employee to understand by the end of it, your goals and expectations for that employee, and consequences if the employee does not improve to a certain level. By the end of your meeting with the employee, these may change – and that’s okay! You want to start with a basic structure then, once you’re with the employee, develop the plan together so it’s efficient and effective.
Meeting with the Employee
Once you’re actually meeting with the employee, allow plenty of time for a two-way discussion. Tell them what needs to improve with examples, your expectations, and talk about what may be causing their poor performance. Also let them know what they’re doing well! If an employee is empowered, they will be encouraged to continue working hard on improving.
Keep in mind that this is to help the employee improve, not to reprimand them. Collaborate with the employee on different ways they can improve (such as a training, certain resources, or shadowing another employee). After you’ve talked initially, adjust your goals, the consequences if they don’t improve, and the deadline by which they need to improve (if you think those changes are appropriate).
During the meeting, it’s important to listen. The employee may or may not be facing personal issues, so you can offer support and empathy while reinforcing the need for improved workplace performance. Work with them and allow them to put in their insight.
When Should I Follow Up?
Normally, PIPs are 30-90 days. It’s essential that you and the employee re-asses their performance at the deadline to determine if the employee’s performance is at an acceptable level, if more time is needed for the PIP, or if consequential action needs to take place. Don’t wait until the deadline to check in with the employee, though. Weekly or monthly check ins during the PIP can help you monitor their progress and make adjustments to the plan if you find it necessary.
When an employee’s performance suffers, there is almost always a cause (or causes!). Gather your thoughts and basic plan and listen to the employee. Remember, you want your employee to improve, so work with them to create a custom PIP that gives the best opportunity for the employee to excel.