When an employee is struggling to perform to acceptable levels, it can be a difficult situation for everyone involved.

There is often the tendency to opt for the quick fix: Issue a warning to incite better performance … or terminate the employee. However, this strategy doesn’t always work and you may be unnecessarily boosting employee turnover by adopting a “sink or swim” mentality.

Many companies find they are able to avoid letting go of good workers by setting up a performance improvement plan (PIP) for employees who aren’t performing up to company standards.

Ideally, a PIP should be able to improve performance, identify a skills or training deficiency or justify an employment action, such as a demotion or termination.

Establish the Problem

The first thing a Performance Improvement Plan (or PIP) needs to do is lay out the problem or problems at hand. Why is the employee not meeting their daily goals? Is it a training issue? Is there some kind of unnecessary constraint? Has there been a communication breakdown?

A supervisor needs to identify various parts of the worker’s performance that require improvement. In recording the primary performance issues, the manager should be impartial, truthful and give particular facts and instances to further explain the seriousness or routine of performance concerns.

When establishing a PIP, a company should used an established process to maintain consistency in the information given to all workers, and to help protect the company should legal claims come up at some point down the road.

Layout a Path Forward

The next part of the PIP needs to be based on a collaboration between the employee and the company. Identifying and discussing the issues with the employee can help to establish whether the root cause of the problem is a lack of training, lack of resources, communication breakdown or some other issue. This conversation can also help the employee to realize the company wants them to succeed, as well as take some ownership of the situation.

The path forward laid out by the PIP should then take on the root causes that were discussed. The plan should include goals that can be objectively measured, with dates that goals should be met by. A job description and company policies can be used to guide expectations of employees.

The manager should figure out if the worker requires any extra resources, time, or training to satisfy these targets. The PIP should establish the type of assistance the worker will get to meet PIP goals.

The plan should set specific expectations and include details on the repercussions for not meeting those goals. If firing is a possibility, it should be plainly communicated in the plan.

The Follow-Up

The worker and manager should get together for regular follow-up meetings, which can be laid out in the PIP. These meetings should go over and record progress toward set objectives. The worker should be given the chance in follow-up meetings to ask questions and get help or clarification on performance objectives. The manager should make certain that any possible hurdles are discussed and the worker has been supplied with the required tools and training.

At Cornerstone, we work with our client companies to ensure our contingent employees are working at the highest levels. If your company is looking for a robust staffing solution backed with exceptional service, feel free to contact us online today.




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