It's a fact that almost every manager will have an underperformer at some point in his/her career. Don't be frustrated, don't ignore the problem, don't let your team suffer, and don't revert to termination as the first resort. Implement a Performance Improvement Plan to work with your employee, and measure the results.
As a manager, your goal is to get the most out of your employees. Sometimes all it takes is a nudge in the right direction to get your employee back on track. Other times, it requires a little tough love from your end.
A Performance Improvement Plan (PIP) is not something your employee wants, but it does not necessarily have to be negative. If you need to set up a PIP, you need to do so in a way that is sure to benefit your employee, not weed them out. In the best of circumstances, a PIP exists to help an underperforming employee do their best for your company. By laying out clear guidelines, your employee gets a clear sense of what is expected of them and gives them the room and direction necessary to improve in that direction.
A successful PIP enables you to set goals, measure success, conduct review sessions, and chart the progress of your employee. You should build it to facilitate constructive discussion between the employee and yourself, and to clarify the level of work performance to be improved. Your PIP must specifically outline the performance deliverables and minimum expectations that must be achieved within a given timeframe.
There are several key points to consider when it comes time to build your own Performance Improvement Plan for an employee. The first is that you must identify the job duties or responsibilities that are not being performed at an acceptable level. These can be broad categories such as attendance, customer service skills, meeting deadlines, etc. It is important here that you outline specific, work-related examples of actual work performance. Focus on performance, not your employee. You then want to indicate acceptable work performance standards and expectations that must be performed on a consistent basis. Set the standards high, and make sure they are measurable, and achievable.
Once you have the performance issues and the proper recourse clearly stated, invite the employee, as well as his or her supervisor (if applicable) to review with you the Performance Improvement Plan thus far. During this review, discuss plans for performance improvement and list the support and resources you plan on providing to assist the employee. Emphasize that change is necessary; performance must be improved and maintained. Also at this time, communicate your plan for providing feedback to the employee. Specify meeting times, with whom and how often. Specify the measurements you will consider in evaluating progress. Once you have completed the PIP form, give a copy to your employee and keep the original for your files.
After issuing a Performance Improvement Plan to an employee, be sure to schedule dates for follow-up discussions. Allow the employee between 30 and 90 days to make the recommended improvements. During this 30 to 90 day period, provide regular feedback and coaching to the employee. At the end of the 30 to 90 day period, the status of the employee's improvement must be recorded. Provide a copy of the completed PIP to the employee and keep a copy for your files. You should then submit the original version of the completed PIP to Human Resources to be kept in the employee's file.
Once the Performance Improvement Plan has been completed, you need to determine whether or not it was successful. You should have pre-established a method to measure your employee's progress. This will make it easy and unquestionable as to if your employee improved his or her day-to-day performance or if he or she remained an underachiever.
If the Performance Improvement Plan was successful, you and your employee will have both benefited from the experience. Conversely, if the plan failed to improve your employee's overall on the job performance, you know what course of action needs to be taken to rectify the situation. You have to be willing to do everything in your power to help your employee succeed, except place the success of your company in jeopardy.
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