FRIDAY HR FAQS – When should you implement a Performance Improvement Plan?

Date: Friday, 22nd March, 2019

Having a poor performer in your team who is not managed properly can have significant disadvantages for a teams overall performance and as a result there are there are other consequences that can filter through.

Employees in the team may start to become frustrated with one member of the team not contributing, which can then subsequently have an impact on engagement and team morale, sending you a clear message as a Line Manager that you are not serious or consistent about high standards. Especially in a smaller businesses this can have a serious impact on your bottom line.

At the point of underperformance (this can be attitudinal or capability) being identified, it is important that it is dealt without delay by having a conversation with them to highlight the specific issues and understand what may be causing these.  There may be external influences affecting them at work, or a simple solution you can work through together that can nip any issues in the bud, without any further action being necessary.  Always ensure these discussions are held in private and ask open questions to ensure you fully understand any reasons for the underperformance.  This is your opportunity to reiterate your expectations of the individual’s performance, identify where their performance is falling short and work through some solutions to support them getting there.

Sometimes (and hopefully!) this is all you need and once you have had this discussion, the employee’s performance improves to the required standard.

Unfortunately, sometimes this doesn’t achieve the desired result and after a short period which you should identify at the beginning, if nothing has changed you should implement a Performance Improvement Plan (PIP) to guide and support an improvement in the individual’s performance. 

In the cases of attitudinal issues, improvement should be seen relatively quickly from the employee and in any further instances we would recommend you move to either an informal or formal disciplinary action where a Performance Improvement Plan should be put in place. 

In a situation of capability, you should expect to see an immediate improvement but sometimes this can be more gradual and you should continue to monitor the situation closely.  If you feel they can’t reach the required standard without further intervention, you should not delay in issuing a Performance Improvement Plan, the sooner this is implemented, the higher the chances of success.

A Performance Improvement Plan is a structured formal plan that provides your employee’s with specific and supportive steps to assist them in improving their performance and would typically last between 30-90 days depending on the role and the individual.  The deliverables should be specific with the outcomes clearly measurable and the required improvement in performance can then be gradually increased with specific outcomes to be achieved along the way to progress with the plan. Regular documented reviews (we would recommend every other week depending on the nature of the role) of the individuals progress during the plan will then further support the individual. However in the event of continued underperformance it will provide invaluable evidence should you wish to progress to the disciplinary procedure.

Remember, all performance related discussions should be conducted in a private room and remain confidential to the employee and any relevant people from a business perspective i.e. Line Manager, MD etc.

If you would like to discuss any aspect of implementing a PIP get in touch today, HR Revolution are here to help.

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