Providing 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.
Related CEB blog posts:
- Interviewer’s Loose Lips Can Lead to Employer Liability
- Exiting Gracefully: The Termination Letter
- Contracts on Love?
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