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How to Prepare a Performance Improvement Plan: 13 Best Tips


The fact is that many employees do not satisfy the expectation of the employers and hence they are subject to immediate disciplinary action. Such employees are placed in a performance improvement plan (PIP).

When higher officials find out that an employee is under performing certain area then a performance improvement plan would be helpful to improve his performance.

It is one of the best ways where struggling employees are offered with an opportunity to succeed with PIP.

Writing Performance Improvement Plan

The main usage of PIP is used to identify the failures that are associated with the job and other behavior associated concerns. When outcomes of PIP is considered there are many in number such as recognition of skills, overall performance improvement, termination, transfers and more. PIP is mainly used on new employees for a specific role where they are to meet performance expectations. Below mentioned are a few steps which are followed about how to prepare a performance improvement plan.

Tips for Writing a Performance Improvement Plan:

1. Documenting performance issues:

The first step in a PIP process is that the supervisor should monitor the employee’s performance and document them where they require improvement. The main aspect that the supervisor should remember in recording the performance issue is that he must be objective, particular, and factual in recording. He must provide examples so that it clarifies and best explains the intensity of the issue.

An established format which is consistent in information is one way to develop an employee performance plan. The PIP varies depending upon the employers and usually contains information of the employee, associated dates, description of the gap or discrepancy, actual performance description, plan of action, employee and manager signatures, plan of action evaluation and overall performance improvement plan.

2. Developing an action plan:

The next step is that the higher official or the supervisor is to develop an action plan for the purpose of improvement. This can be adjusted later by the feedback provided by the employee in the meeting. When the process is made collaborative, the employee can find it easy to detect the confusing area and enhance ownership by the employees.

There should be particular and measurable objectives which are meant to be time-bound, relevant and accurate. The main use of a PIP is that it is beneficial to find out behavioral, performance issues and expectations and to draw a job description.

3. Talking to employees about issues:

The employers can arrange for a face to face meeting where the issues about the employees can be discussed. Sharing such kind of issues with the employees is beneficial so that they get to know that they are facing issues and understand what their problem is.

Offer the employees with more information with your documents so they get to know where they stand. Also make the meeting an objective one by being polite and not using accusatory language to the employee.

4. Highlighting employee behavior:

The meeting should be one which highlights the ways by which an employee has been deviated from his performance. The employee should know, where mistake has been done, if he has made a mistake in the policy infractions, not meeting expected output for the specific role, not up to date with the work quotas and more. Instead of concentrating on the individual, it is good to focus on the outcome of the behavior which affects the results of the job role.

5. Examples of action plans:

Example 1: In July, August, and September John should have 5% less errors and must develop an output of 200 units each month.

Example 2: At time of performance of 50 days, John should possess complete attendance except medical and family absence which must be approved. This interprets that he must be ready to work for at every start of the shift and be alert after break to work for the complete shift.

In order to meet all these objectives, the supervisor should monitor and make sure if there is a need for time, additional resources, training etc. With this plan the supervisor can make out the contribution from the management side and help the employees in achieving their goals.

The performance expectations should be set with the performance plans and also the consequences for not taking part in the meeting must be mentioned. If there is a possibility for being terminated, the same can be included in the plan document.

6. Include available resources list:

The available resources which the employee can have access must be mentioned for employees knowledge. By this way you have helped the employee and the employee can also access the required tools which assist him to improve his performance. It is important to note that employees need these supporting aspects and must be used in the right manner.

Some of the resources required for performance improvement are training materials, funds, time from usual schedule, expertise assistance. A simple example can be for an employee who faces hassles in time management and can make use of administrative tools so that he organizes his schedule and set goals and time for work management.

7. Provide timeline for performance improvement goals:

Creating a timeline can be a perfect way for keeping the employees on time in achieving the goals so that they are a perfect progress towards the overall performance. The performance improvement plan for the employees should be mentioned with a start and end date which can be usually a 30 to 90 day period. There should also be mentioning other dates between start and end dates which mentions the marks, the benchmark goals which must be met.

8. Mention the metric used to measure progress:

To make the employee clear from confusion, it is better to be particular in measuring the performance of the employee in achieving the goals. There are varied goals which make use of varied kind of measurements.

A simple example can be about the improved measurement which is a goal that measures the employee’s measurement.

9. Reviewing the performance plan:

The supervisor should meet the manager and get assistance regarding the PIP or HR professional for reviewing the plan before meeting the employee. It is the duty of the third party to make sure that the documentation is perfect with clear statement and does not include any kind of emotion in it. The action plan can be reviewed by the third party to make sure that all modifications are made relevant, attainable, specific, measurable in accordance with the time line.

10. Employee feedback:

After getting an approved action plan, the supervisor meets the employee and mentions him about the area where he needs improvement. Once the employee offers feedback and suggestions about the plan, few changes are made by the supervisor in the plan. The PIP form is then signed by the supervisor and the employee.

11. Follow up:

There should be timely follow-up meetings that take place between the employee and the supervisor which must also be mentioned in PIP. The main motive of the meetings should be discussion about the progress of the document towards the objectives.

It is best suggested that the employee can follow up meetings where they can clarify doubts, seek assistance, clarification about performance expectations.

The supervisor should also make sure if the employee is facing any roadblocks and that the employees are offered with the right tools and training for the same. When there is fruitful progress it must be identified as a boost to motivate the employee towards better improvement.

12. Follow and document:

With the various metrics that are provided in the performance improvement plan make sure to measure and document the performance of the employee about fulfilling their goals. By this way the employee’s evidence and objective is obtained which can be beneficial in sharing feedback.

13. Conclusion of PIP:

For employees who object for PIP and do not improve, their performance actually worsens at time. At that time the employer should surely conclude the PIP by reassigning or terminate or transfer the employee based on few aspects.

There may be few employees who are able to present some improvement in the PIP but would not be unable to accomplish all the plans mentioned within the PIP timeline. For such kind of employees there are few other alternatives as mentioned.

a. For employees who are able to do their best but are not able to meet all the objectives are provided with extended time for PIP with enhanced number of months or weeks.

b. After complete review if the employer feels that the objectives were too hard or did not fall within the requirement for a particular employee then the PIP may be closed or extended due to the observation.

c. If the employer finds out that the employee is not a perfect fit or not improving in terms of PIP then they may consider transfer, reassignment of job or termination.

In cases where the employee has made a positive impact by fulfilling all the objectives in the PIP, then the employee is permitted to continue their employment. This can be done before the date mentioned in the PIP plan. This marks an optimistic approach for the employee and the employee must also be sure that the organization is looking for better results from him.

There are few performance expectations that are expected by the employer, performance improvement can be required in these areas:

Examples of Employer Performance Expectations Areas:

Building trust:

An open and honest manner is how behavior is expected by the employers where the employer also needs to be consistent in their words. There is also requirement for truthfulness at tough times and need to share information in an accurate, appropriate and complete manner.

Delivery of results:

There should be excellence displayed in all tasks and goals. There should be proper usage of time and good response when challenges occur. Also the employees must remain responsive to feedback.


There should be meaningful, regular and consistent information provided. It is also necessary to listen in a careful manner to other and understand the message. It is also advised that there needs to be sharing of matters with others.


Other people must be treated with respect, dignity and fairness and any interpersonal conflicts must be solved in the right manner. In order to make sure that all succeed, it is necessary to share knowledge, time and energy. Awareness, knowledge of culture and values of people should be followed.

Taking initiatives:

There should be proper response for ones outcomes, measurements as well as processes. The employees should achieve goals independently and also take up leadership and responsibility when required.

Problem solving:

All sides of the issue must be weighed before a conclusion is made for any scenario. With the help of information available, try to make informed decisions to fix any actions and identify the issues. Be open to new ideas and also address your process to accomplish the results.

Functional knowledge and skills:

Skills and knowledge must be represented which are associated to the work group and job role. All best practices can be applied to the job role you belong to. For your best knowledge and skills customers must be able to identify you.

Service to customers:

It is always perfect to listen to customers, satisfy their needs and keep them updated with the status and updates. There should be a positive relationship customers, meeting deadlines and more.

This is an example for a performance improvement plan which is offered to the employee. Employees who are to undergo a PIP can read through the above mentioned points and gain a clear idea about a performance improvement plan.

The steps that are followed in order to develop a PIP are mentioned step by step which helps the employees understand the expectation of the employers.

An example of PIP is also mentioned for clear understanding of the employees. It is also important to note that PIP varies from employer to employer depending on the employees performance.