Most dedicated executives view themselves as cooperative and hard-working. Sometimes, an employee will carry out his employment duties for years before receiving any notice to the contrary. Many employers will not give any indication that an employee's career is in jeopardy. Then, suddenly the employee is summoned to a meeting and presented with a Performance Improvement Plan ("PIP"). Often times, this PIP will be vaguely worded or mischaracterize the employee's past performance, which places the employee at a disadvantage from the outset. It can be extremely stressful to have your performance questioned and your efforts deeply scrutinized in this way. However, there are effective ways to address misrepresented or mischaraterized items in a PIP.
Usually, a PIP will identify areas purportedly in need of improvement. A standard PIP will also provide a specified time period and expectations for improving in those areas. When the time period expires, the employee's improvement, or lack thereof, is reviewed. If the employee's performance is not viewed as "improved" in the eyes of the employer, employment may be terminated. Due to the fact that a failed PIP can result in termination, it is a serious matter, and should be handled with professional care and judgment.
In coaching clients through a PIP, we often see the employer exaggerate issues that were never previously addressed or identify one or two isolated incidents. We help our clients identify the hot button issues and create a plan is to deal with the concerns. A successfully navigated PIP can help manage employment expectations and highlight your achievements. Clear guidance and an identified process can help prolong employment and even create a more positive working environment.
When guiding clients through a PIP, we remind them to maintain a positive and hopeful outlook because there are strategies to deal with every type of employer.