Recent data indicates that 58% of employees show improved performance after completing a performance improvement plan (PIP). [Workstatus]

Facing challenges with low productivity and engagement in your team? A PIP might just be the solution you need to revitalize performance.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to effectively implementing a performance improvement plan.

What is a Performance Improvement Plan?

A performance improvement plan (PIP) is a strategic tool used by businesses to guide employees who are struggling to meet job expectations. This process involves setting clear performance goals, specifying a timeline for achievement, and often includes support like training or coaching.

Regular feedback sessions are held to discuss progress and adjustments. PIPs provide a structured opportunity for staff to enhance their skills and meet job demands, ensuring they understand their manager’s expectations.

Essentially, a PIP outlines steps for employees to improve their work performance and align with organizational goals, promoting accountability and support from management to enhance overall efficiency and effectiveness.

Elements of a Performance Improvement Plan

A performance improvement plan (PIP) typically includes several key elements. Let us look at the most prominent ones among them:

1. Identification of Performance Issues

A performance improvement plan (PIP) starts with a thorough employee performance review to identify areas for improvement. This might be work commitments, coworker relations, or company rules.

This step often involves supervisors, coworkers, and customers to understand the challenges. Be neutral and use facts, not opinions. Finding performance issues is the initial step to developing focused performance-enhancing solutions.

2. Measurable Goals

The performance improvement plan establishes specific growth targets for employees. These goals are designed to be SMART—specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound—ensuring they are realistic and attainable.

Each goal is aimed at enhancing particular aspects of job performance, allowing both managers and employees to track progress through clear metrics.

By setting quantifiable objectives, staff can clearly understand what is expected of them and strive towards improvement. SMART goals not only motivate employees by providing clear directions and deadlines but also foster accountability by making it easier to measure success and areas needing further improvement.

3. Timeline

The performance improvement plan should outline a clear timeline for achieving goals and tracking progress. This schedule is crucial for managing and guiding the improvement process effectively.

It should be realistic, considering the complexity of the goals and the support available. The timeline should include regular check-ins and reviews of progress to ensure that everything is on track.

These clear deadlines help both managers and employees understand what needs to be accomplished and by when, facilitating better tracking of progress. Additionally, having a defined schedule reinforces accountability, encouraging staff to meet their targets and contribute to their personal and organizational growth.

4. Help and Resources

Provide employees with the necessary support and resources to meet the goals set in the performance improvement plan.

This support might include access to training, resources, guidance, or coaching tailored to their needs. Maintaining open communication between the employee, management, and HR is crucial to determine the most effective ways to assist them. Offering support and resources not only demonstrates your investment in their success but also enhances the overall work environment.

Continual development opportunities can also increase employees' confidence and motivation, leading to improved performance.

5. Monitoring and Feedback

Regular feedback and tracking are essential components of performance improvement plans to evaluate progress and implement necessary adjustments.

Schedule feedback sessions to discuss and measure employee performance, achievements, and challenges. Constructive feedback should help you identify both strengths and weaknesses, allowing both the employee and manager to monitor the effectiveness of the plan. These sessions foster open communication and trust, simplifying the problem-solving process.

How to Create a Performance Improvement Plan in 7 Simple Steps

Creating a performance improvement plan (PIP) can be done if we follow these seven simple steps in the given order:

Step 1: Assess Your Employee's Performance

Before commencing a performance improvement plan, it's crucial to thoroughly evaluate the employee's performance. Review their work quality, communication, teamwork, and productivity comprehensively.

Gather feedback from clients, coworkers, and supervisors to get a well-rounded view. Utilize both quantitative data, such as success rates, and qualitative feedback to pinpoint specific instances or patterns of underperformance.

When documenting these issues, focus on tangible actions and results to ensure the assessment is fair and unbiased. Also, consider external factors that might have impacted the employee’s performance. This step helps to accurately identify the employee’s strengths, weaknesses, and areas for improvement.

Use ThriveSparrow to gain a comprehensive understanding of each employee's strengths and weaknesses during performance reviews. This platform provides an organized comparison of an employee's self-assessments with peer ratings, helping to pinpoint skill and competency gaps effectively.

ThriveSparrow's individual reports displaying blind spots or weaknesses.
ThriveSparrow's Individual Reports allow both managers and employees to compare self-assessments with peer ratings across various skills and competencies.
ThriveSparrow's GAP Analysis
ThriveSparrow's GAP Analysis gives a holistic overview of an employee's performance across competencies at a glance.

Step 2: Establish Clear Objectives

After assessing performance, set specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) goals for employee development. Align these goals with both the company’s objectives and the employee’s role.

Break larger goals into manageable steps to streamline progress and ensure they are sufficiently challenging to motivate the employee without being overwhelming.

During the performance improvement plan discussion, clearly outline the significance of these goals, your expectations, and the methods for measuring and tracking progress. Establish a realistic timeline for achieving these goals, taking into account the employee's other responsibilities and workload. Setting clear objectives facilitates employee growth and clarifies expectations for all parties involved.

Step 3: Communicate Expectations

Schedule a meeting with the employee to go over their performance review and discuss improvement strategies. Approach the conversation with empathy and a genuine desire to help them succeed. Clearly outline the areas that need enhancement, backing up your points with specific examples.

Express your concern for their well-being and professional growth.

Explain the potential outcomes if they do not meet the performance targets set in the PIP, but also reassure them of your belief in their ability to improve.

Encourage the employee to express their views and concerns, and be prepared to listen and address these points. This discussion should help both parties understand each other better and commit to the employee’s progress.

Step 4: Collaborate on Action Plans

Develop a clear growth strategy by actively involving the employee in the planning process. Encourage them to contribute ideas and suggestions on how to address performance challenges.

Break down each goal into actionable steps or behaviors that the employee can undertake to meet them.

Discuss possible improvement strategies, techniques, and resources available to support their development. Establish realistic deadlines and milestones for each stage of the plan, ensuring they are achievable within the set timeframes.

Clarify the roles and expectations for the employee and any support personnel involved in their development process. Encourage the employee to commit to the action plan and take ownership of their progress. This collaborative approach empowers the employee to actively participate in their improvement and customizes the plan to their specific needs.

Step 5: Provide Support and Resources

Identify the specific supports and resources needed to enhance the employee's performance. This could include additional training, coaching, mentorship, or adjustments in their work environment or workload.

Take into account the employee’s preferences, learning style, and developmental needs when selecting support tools. Ensure they have access to the necessary resources, technology, and information to successfully implement their improvement plan.

Encourage open discussions about the available support and how they can access it, reinforcing that seeking help is a sign of strength. Regularly monitor the employee’s progress and adjust the level or type of support as necessary. Providing robust support empowers employees to succeed and helps them navigate challenges effectively.

Step 6: Regularly Monitor and Provide Feedback

Continuously monitor and provide feedback throughout the performance improvement plan (PIP). Schedule regular sessions to discuss the employee's activities, achievements, and any challenges encountered. These check-ins allow you to evaluate whether the employee is meeting the objectives outlined in the action plan.

Offer feedback on their work, recognize their progress, and discuss areas needing improvement. Listen actively to the employee's concerns and collaboratively address any issues, making necessary adjustments to the action plan as needed.

Maintain open communication, encouraging the employee to voice their opinions, questions, and concerns. Consistent monitoring and feedback are essential to keeping employees engaged and on track, offering the support they need to succeed.

Step 7: Evaluate and Follow-Up

Conclude the performance improvement process by evaluating the employee's achievements against the action plan's objectives.

Assess the progress made and confirm whether the set goals have been met. Celebrate the employee's successes, acknowledging their efforts and improvements, and consider rewarding smaller achievements to boost morale and encourage further growth.

If the performance targets are not met, explore the underlying reasons and identify any barriers that might have hindered progress. Depending on the outcomes, you might extend the improvement period to allow more time for development or introduce additional support such as training or mentoring.

In cases where there is no significant improvement despite all efforts, consider other personnel actions such as reassignment or termination. The evaluation and follow-up phase is crucial for ensuring the effectiveness of the plan and for supporting the employee's ongoing development.

Performance Plan For Enhanced Output

The best way to increase the levels of employee engagement and performance of your employees is to develop an in-depth performance improvement program. It is an excellent way to give your employees a second chance and is an opportunity for them to showcase their skills. So if your workforce falls sub-par, give this performance improvement plan a try.

If you're interested, ThriveSparrow offers AI-assisted personal development plans (PDPs) that streamline the creation process for your managers. This feature efficiently saves time and effort when developing tailored plans for multiple team members.

ThriveSparrow's AI-Based PDPs
ThriveSparrow's AI-Based PDPs