5 Ways to Handle Being Put On a Performance Improvement Plan (PIP)

So you’ve been called into the office by your manager and have been told that they aren’t pleased with your performance. They want to put you on a performance improvement plan or a PIP. A performance improvement plan is a clear set of expectations that your employer has laid out for you to perform over a certain period of time. The time frame can be 30, 60, or 90 days. If, at the end of that time period, you don’t meet those expectations, they could terminate your position or put you on another PIP. Here are 5 things you can do to handle this situation and turn things around.

Don’t panic.

Breathe. Say thank you for this information. Ask if you can have 24 hours to look it over and then request a second meeting. You need time to catch your breath and figure out what’s next. Our gut reaction is to say, “Fxxx this! I am out of here!” You have other options. Keep reading to find out.

Read over that plan line by line.

Take note of exactly what it is they want you to do. If it is unclear, you’re going to ask for more direction in your next meeting. In fact, you’re going to ask for specific metrics for what they want you to achieve. 

If your PIP says you need to be at work on time every day, ask them to define “on time.” Do they mean 8:30 am or 9:00 am? Does this mean sitting at my desk and logging on to my computer? If they want you to make a certain number of sales calls, find the exact number, 5, 10, 15, 20. And when they want the sales calls completed. If they want you to communicate more, ask what forms of communication are acceptable, email, interoffice chat, phone calls, or face-to-face meetings. And how frequently are you expected to communicate with the team? Get clarity on every single point.

Be sure to approach this as a collaborative and clarifying conversation versus an antagonistic and defensive perspective. You can say, “I want to be successful in the next 90 days. Can we have a transparent conversation and set some S.M.A.R.T goals?”

Schedule weekly meetings with your supervisor.

I know you don’t want to talk to these people right now, but it’s just something you have to do. Make a spreadsheet of each expectation, then document how you have met them week after week.  Every week, you should meet with your supervisor, report on your metrics and progress for each of these expectations, ask for feedback, and ask if there is anything else they would like for you to do to meet the expectations of the PIP.

Follow through.

If they ask you to do something, be sure you’re doing it. When your presence is requested at a meeting, and you have a doctor’s appointment on your calendar, reschedule it!  If they want you to redo a report, say, “Thank you for the feedback, I will get this to you by the end of business tomorrow, is that ok?” and do it!  During this time, do not make any excuses. Just buckle down and get the work done. 

Update everything.

Update your resume, your LinkedIn profile, make copies of all of your previous performance reviews, download your contacts, and have an exit strategy just in case you want to leave this organization no matter what happens with the PIP.

Being put on a PIP can be scary, but it’s not insurmountable. I have had clients turn it around, and I know you can if that’s what you want to do. If you need help, set up a consultation today to activate your career dreams.

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Madelyn Mackie

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