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Should your company use PIPs for poor performers?

On Behalf of | Jun 2, 2022 | Employment Law For Employers |

Performance improvement plans, or “PIPs,” get a bad name among employees – and sometimes, that’s not exactly unfair. Some employers have been known to use a PIP as more of a documentation tool that helps ease concerns about wrongful termination claims than they do for anything else.

Done correctly, however, a PIP can help your company thrive. They can guide errant employees back on track and into the workflow where you need them, and they show your employers that you actually care about their success.

Here are some tips to make a PIP work:

Don’t spring a PIP plan on a troubled employee

A PIP should come well after you’ve already noticed that an employee’s performance needs some work – and well after you’ve brought the problems to your employee’s attention.

Ideally, you should have a one-on-one meeting with your troubled employee to address your concerns with their work and give them a viable chance to turn things around on their own. You may even want to consider an informal review process or weekly “check-in” with your employee about their progress for a month or so while you see if they can manage on their own.

Do explain to your employee, however, that a performance improvement plan is the next step if they fail to make some progress. That way, they’re clearly aware of your expectations, and there’s no doubt that their work has to improve.

Be very specific with your goals for your employee

If you do have to move to a PIP, make sure that your goals for your employee are clear. Vague statements can leave an employee even more frustrated and confused than ever – and that’s not what you want.

Make sure that your employee understands how often review checkpoints will be evaluated and what you expect to see at each marker. At this point, it’s also wise to involve human resources or another manager or owner so that there’s always a witness in the room when you’re having these difficult conversations. While you don’t want to “gang up” on an employee, you also want to protect the company’s interests from false allegations.

Dealing with troubled employees and employees whose performance has sunk is just part of the price of doing business. Experienced legal guidance can help you avoid mistakes.