Compliance/Best Practices Employment Law Legal Topics

Need to Improve Employee Performance? Have a Plan.

blog76806702bProviding frank feedback to employees can be difficult for even the most experienced human resources personnel. The process is more difficult if an employee is having performance problems that require correction. Don’t ignore the problems; set up a plan.

A performance improvement plan should explain to the employee what is wrong with his or her performance and give the employee a fair and reasonable opportunity to improve and correct the problems. The employer’s goal is immediate, significant, and sustained improvement by the employee.

Here are the basics for any performance improvement plan:

  • Explain what performance problems exist, setting out in clear, concise, and specific terms on how the employee’s performance has not met expectations.
  • Refer to any company policy or rule that has been violated and attach copies of the policy/rule.
  • Mention if the employee’s poor performance has previously been addressed.
  • Include a copy of any previous performance improvement plans for the employee.
  • Explain in clear and concise terms what improvements the employee must make to meet expectations, with a focus on specific, objective goals related to the job.
  • Include a target date for improving performance that is reasonable and achievable in light of the goals set.
  • Warn of the next step that may be taken by the employer, such as more severe discipline or termination, if the employee fails to improve his or her performance.
  • Discuss the plan with the employee and place it in the employee’s personnel file.

In preparing a performance improvement plan, always ensure that the employee is being treated equally when compared to others who may have similar performance issues.

When there are performance problems, it’s no time for employers to bury their heads in the sand; ignoring these problems can lead to a crisis, because poor performance is rarely self-corrected.

Need a sample performance improvement plan? CEB’s Drafting Employment Documents for California Employers, chapter 10, includes two sample performance improvement plans—one for first-time offenders and another for employees who have been previously warned of their poor performance yet haven’t shown improvement. And for excellent coverage of virtually any workplace issue your clients may face, turn to CEB’s Advising California Employers and Employees.

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© The Regents of the University of California, 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

5 replies on “Need to Improve Employee Performance? Have a Plan.”

Well said Julie. I think it is also important to add such things as “The PIP may be extended at the discretion of the Company if significant progress has been made but goals have not quite been achieved” “Employee may be discharged before the PIP period is completed if, in the discretion of the Company, no progress is being made by the Employee” “At the conclusion of the PIP, the Employee is required to sustain the requisite level of performance” and “At all times, employment remains at-will”. I would also include regular weekly meetings to discuss progress (both improvements and failures) and these should be documented. Finally, ask the employee what the company can do to assist them in meeting the goals (additional training, a seminar, etc.) and, if you agree, add this to the PIP and follow through with it. Remember, this will be Exhibit A at a trial and the jury loves to see to that the Company did all that it could to salvage the employment relationship.

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