Performance Improvement Plan for Success

6 Elements of Every Successful Performance Improvement Plan.

Every manager will face an issue with an under-performing employee at some point in their career. Understanding why your employee is under-performing may be a challenge and might not be obvious.

  • Does the employee possess the skills needed to perform the work?
  • Does he or she lack specific training?
  • Is a personal issue or trouble at home spilling into the workplace?

An open conversation about their performance will let the employee know that they are not performing up to your standards. It may be they are completely unaware of certain expectations or the fact they are an under-performing employee. At any rate, the conversation itself may uncover some surprising answers.

Once you’ve identified the underlying issue, you can begin coaching the employee to bring their performance up to par. In some cases, you may put the employee on a formal performance improvement plan. This written agreement outlines the employee’s performance enhancement goals and identified explicitly what he or she can do to achieve those goals more effectively. Below, we will walk you through the process that leads to performance improvement plan success.

Below are 6 elements that every successful performance improvement plan will include.

1| A Human Resource (HR) department consult.

A successful performance improvement plan always starts with your HR department. They will ensure you have the tools, knowledge, and documentation to keep you compliant throughout the whole process.

First, you will need to discuss your process with them. Then, include the underlying issue, your intended goals, actions, and activities to complete to meet those goals. Then, clearly articulate the consequences if the goals are not met.

Remember, if an under-performing employee continues to perform below expectations, you may have to consider termination. In this case, it is even more critical that your HR department is involved.

2| Confirm the performance improvement plan contains all of the essential components.
  • Employee name and dates of performance issues
  • A thorough description of the expected performance, the actual performance issues observed and any discrepancy between the two
  • A list of goals that will bring the performance back up to par. Remember, use SMART goals (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound).
  • Specific action plan for the employee to meet the goals
  • Dates by which to complete goals
  • Consequences for unmet goals
  • Employee and manager signatures to acknowledge the discussion about the performance improvement plan
3| Document the process.

In addition to the written performance improvement plan itself, document all meetings and discussions surrounding the performance issue. Record the dates, discussion details, and names of individuals included in any conversations. Documentation is a vital part of the process, especially if the process ends with a consequence such as termination.

4| Provide the employee with the tools required to do the job.

Whether it is training or a specific technology or resource, you must provide the tools needed to complete the goals. It is unfair to expect an employee to get the job done without the resources required to do so. If you’re unsure what tools or resources may be helpful, consult someone else in the organization that performs a similar job. Particularly if they are doing it well. They can impart the tips that got them to their current performance level.

5| Meet regularly to assess progress.

The manager’s involvement through coaching and continuous feedback is essential to the employee’s success. Consider outside factors in addition to employee progress. Are there obligatory department projects that are interfering with the ability to achieve the goals? Did you initially allow a realistic amount of time to meet the goals? It is okay to update the plan to accommodate these things.

The key is to keep a continued dialog with the employee. Also, ask their opinion about the process. You may get some valuable feedback.

6| Conclude the process.

Formally close the performance improvement plan in the time frame stated in the plan. At this time, it is important to follow through with the consequence or reward stated in the performance improvement plan. If the employee has met your plan expectations, it is okay to check in with them periodically to confirm the performance standards keep up.

However, make sure they know the formal plan process is over. It is unfair to you, the employee, and the rest of your team to keep the process going indefinitely.

For tips on smooth employee terminations, check out our video blog Ask the HR Expert, Katie Stewart.

Tandem HR

If your business lacks an internal human resource department or you feel you need an additional consult on the performance improvement plan process, call Tandem HR today.

Tandem HR is a Chicago area Professional Employer Organization (PEO) that assists hundreds of small and mid-sized businesses in creating exceptional workplaces.

They also help clients save time and money while growing their business by taking on the administrative tasks associated with human resources, benefits, payroll, tax administration, regulatory compliance and risk management.

For more information on Tandem HR or PEOs call 630.928.0510.

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