Build great Teams – People management

What Is A PIP And How Does It Work?

What Is A PIP And How Does It Work?

If you have an employee who’s not performing well, what do you do? Ignoring it is not an option as it will have an impact on the rest of your team and your business overall. The best things to do is to create a Performance Improvement Plan (PIP), which is a specific process.

The PIP process is similar to a typical performance management process, it just uses more specific goals over a shorter time frame. The goal is to give an employee every opportunity to turn themselves around. If you follow the process, and keep appropriate records, it will speed things up if you have to pursue disciplinary proceedings, or even dismissal.

PIP – Performance Improvement Plan

You want to give your employee every opportunity to turn themselves around. The reason the PIP process works is because it gets you to set detailed expectations around what needs to change and why. For them to be successful, you may also need to provide additional training and support.

First document what needs improving, and be specific as possible to explain where the problem is, using examples. Create a ‘Performance Improvement Plan’ document so you can keep all the relevant information in one place. In any future legal process, this document shows a clear starting point for the process.


  • All relevant dates.

  • The level of performance or behaviour you expect.

  • Examples of the employee’s actual performance.

  • A description of the performance problem to make sure it’s clear.

  • The consequences on the individual, the team, and the business of this performance or behaviour continuing.

  • The plan of action.
  • I also recommend that both you and the employee sign a copy.

    Action Plan

    Develop the action plan, and involve the employee to make sure they fully understand what is expected. This often encourages ownership of the process by the employee as well. The action plan consists of very detailed SMART goals. Break down the employee’s original goals into smaller pieces and set each up as a SMART goal. This will help ensure the specific performance or behaviour is achieved.

    A PIP is usually set up as sixty- or ninety-day plans – quite short time-frames. Decide whether the employee needs any additional resources or support to be successful, and include that in the plan. The action plan should also include a statement about the consequences of not meeting the objectives, including termination if applicable.

    Meetings To Review

    The final part of the process is to meet with the employee. Set up an initial meeting to clearly lay out the areas for improvement and the action plan. Then set up regular follow-up meetings (weekly, fortnightly or possibly monthly). All follow-up meetings should be conducted as planned, and they should be used to discuss and document progress towards the objectives.

    Hopefully the PIP will result in the desired improvement. If it does, you should formally close the PIP and allow the employee to continue employment. If not, you can close the PIP and consider termination of employment based on the specific circumstances. I strongly suggest discussing termination with an HR professional if you decide that’s the next step.

    My Question To You

    Have you faced an employee who’s not performing well? What did you do? Did you soldier on hoping they’d improve? If this is something you would like to discuss or would like some help with, contact me at You can also buy my book Accelerate to Team Success which is available as a paperback or on Kindle.


    About the Author:

    Nikki Faulkner photo Dr Nikki Faulkner founded Mulberry Bush Consulting to work with business leaders and their teams to make the 'People' side of their business as effective as possible. Mulberry Bush Consulting's specialty is helping small businesses who are new to having employees and helping businesses who are growing rapidly and increasing their employee-base at a rate that is creating a significant challenge.

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