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[Ask HR] How Do You Develop an Effective Performance Improvement Plan?

Ask HR is a series of online articles consisting of answers to most commonly asked questions by Business Owners, Executives, Internal HR Teams, Managers, Job Seekers and HR Students.  For more information on the format, Ask HR Series and how to submit your questions, please follow this link: Ask HR

This week’s Ask HR question is:

How Do You Develop an Effective Performance Improvement Plan (PIP)?

See below what our HR Professionals had to say.  You’ll notice common themes emerge that can make or break your PIP, including senior and mid-management buy-in, training on PIP, setting goals and milestones and expectations upon PIP completion.

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  • Identify and clearly define the key improvements the employee has to make.
  • Identify what the employees is doing well.
  • Ask for the employee’s input on the improvements before finalizing.
  • Set time frames for follow up such as every two weeks or every month and stick to them.
  • Consider what changes you as the manager have to make or resources that the employee requires to meet their improvement goals.

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Marian McGuire, Group HR Director

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  • Need complete commitment from the President and his/her senior management team with a belief in the importance and effectiveness of performance management.
  • All Managers to be held accountable by the President and Senior Management with suitable penalties for non-conformance.
  • Managers will be mandated to participate in the development and training and timely execution of the program.
  • If you don’t have these three things at the outset don’t waste your time on developing a program.

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– Brian Moore, HR Director

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  • Effective PIP cannot be done in a vaccuum and needs to be embedded in a culture of performance management.  Too often Managers will engage in performance improvement in ‘name only’ and true performance turnaround is not the end goal.
  • Related to above, if performance turnaround is not the goal, then don’t bother.
  • Make sure you have top level buy in.
  • Develop plans that address root causes.  For example, if ‘attitude’ is the issue, try and address why and address plans to support turnaround.
  • Reward effective performance management and Managers will be motivated to put genuine effort into the process.

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– Michelle Ventrella, HR Director

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  • Deliver the plan as a “positive” exercise – at this stage it’s not necessarily a disciplinary issue. There does have to be consequences for not successfully completing it, but the aim is to identify issues and get the employee to the level they need to be while providing support and guidance.
  • Stick to the guidelines/timelines provided.
  • Plans for the end of the Performance Improvement Plan period……..if the plan is over four weeks (for example) – in addition to weekly reviews of performance, have a “sign off”  to show the plan is complete and the employee has achieved what was intended, but also a plan on what happens if the employee has not improved in some or all areas detailed.  (too many PIP’s just fall into oblivion)
  • Train managers on the plan.
  • Be consistent in performance management across the organization.
  • Don’t go into it thinking its ammunition to fire the employee four weeks later for cause!

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Stephen Flatman, HR Director

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