When employee performance falls below the company’s expectations, many employers develop performance improvement plans. The purpose of a performance improvement plan is to give the employee a chance to remedy performance deficiencies using a structured method that includes supervisor guidance and regular monitoring to measure progress. Some performance improvement plans are the last opportunity an employee has to remain employed. Therefore, construct plans with strict guidelines that list consequences of which an employee is made aware when you write the plan.
Review the employee’s performance appraisal for the current evaluation period. Compare it with performance appraisals for previous appraisals to determine whether the employee has demonstrated proficiency in the past concerning current issues.
List the performance standards where the employee’s performance falls short of expectations. For example, if the performance standards indicate a customer service agent must maintain 85 percent satisfaction on customer feedback, an employee whose rating is just 60 percent needs to improve. Areas for improvement may include communication skills, customer assistance procedures, and possibly, negotiation and conflict resolution skills.
Discuss the employee’s strengths and how to use those skills to improve in areas where his performance needs to improve. For example, an employee who demonstrates excellent proficiency in providing customer assistance via telephone can work on transferring those good communication skills when assisting customers in face-to-face interaction. Ask the employee for input on how he could improve, such as job skills training or one-on-one guidance from a supervisor or a seasoned employee.
Specify areas for improvement in order of their priority. Critical areas come first, followed by areas where the employee can make subsequent improvements or minor adjustments. Consider integrating minor adjustments for improvement if they are relatively easy fixes that the employee can resolve immediately.
Document the employee’s feedback and supervisor’s recommendations. Construct a written plan that lists performance deficiencies, according to the performance standards. In addition, list the activities the employee will take to improve and the resources necessary for improvement.
Schedule milestones for monitoring progress on the performance improvement plan. For instance, if the plan duration is 45 days, weekly follow-up conferences with a supervisor should reveal incremental improvements.
State the consequences of not following the terms of the performance improvement plan. Depending on the areas and types of improvement, removal from the position or even termination could result from an employee not completing the terms of the plan.
Obtain agreement from the employee on the terms and conditions of the performance improvement plan. Provide the employee with a copy of the plan and ask him to sign it for indication that he understands the requirements and consequences.
Attach a copy of the current performance appraisal plan to the performance improvement plan and file both documents in the employee’s personnel file.
Ruth Mayhew has been writing since the mid-1980s, and she has been an HR subject matter expert since 1995. Her work appears in "The Multi-Generational Workforce in the Health Care Industry," and she has been cited in numerous publications, including journals and textbooks that focus on human resources management practices. She holds a Master of Arts in sociology from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. In addition, she is a certified facilitator for the Center for Creative Leadership Benchmarks 360 Assessment Suite, and is a Logical Operations Modern Classroom Certified Trainer . Ruth resides in North Carolina and works from her office in the nation's capital, Washington, D.C.