How to Write a Solid PIP (Performance Improvement Plan)

At some point in your career as a manager, you will most likely have to manage a poor performer. In most organizations, this means a formal written Performance Improvement Plan (PIP).

The meeting and presentation of the plan should ideally be in person, face-to-face, out of respect for the employee since this is a sensitive topic. Clear examples of the poor performance or behavior should be given, along with specific, measurable improvement goals. Ideally, you have been documenting with dates all instances of substandard work or behavior.

The PIP should note how often you will meet during the plan and who is responsible for scheduling the meetings. You should document written notes after each meeting (typically bi-weekly) and add to the original PIP. The form with notes should be dated and signed after every meeting.

If the employee refuses to sign the document, note that information on the form and sign as the manager. At this point, I would recommend working closely with your HR Representative and advise that he/she begin to attend each subsequent meeting as a witness.

During the PIP period, make yourself available to the employee to help mentor, coach, and answer all questions. Remember that the end-goal is to have the employee successfully pass the PIP and become a better contributor.

If at the end of the PIP period, the employee has shown some improvements, but not all requested, you can always extend the PIP an additional 30 days.

If the employee has not improved or has gotten worse, you will have to make the difficult decision to terminate.

A sample PIP template follows for those of you new to the task. If you have in-house HR, they will likely have a specific corporate template they would like you to use for consistency.

Employee Name:
Disciplinary Level: Written Warning (1st, 2nd, 3rd, Final); PIP
Subject: Substandard Work Performance (or other)

Employee Name,

Your overall performance does not currently meet organizational performance standards. Following are several examples of poor performance:

  • Example
  • Example
  • Example

Employee Name, your role as a Title is crucial to the success of our company. Your performance is not meeting expectations. For this reason, you are being placed on a 60 or 90-day Performance Improvement Plan (PIP).

Improvement Goals:

  1. Goal with deliverable and deadline
  2. Goal with deliverable and deadline
  3. Goal with deliverable and deadline

You are currently not meeting organizational standards of performance. If you fail to perform at an acceptable level at any time in the next Number days, you will be subject to further disciplinary action up to and including termination.

Upon successful completion of this PIP, you will be expected to continue to perform per company standards, or you will be subject to further disciplinary action up to and including termination. A copy of this document will be placed in your personnel file.

Scheduled Review Date:

Employee Comments and/ or Rebuttal:

Employee Signature: __________________________ Date: _________

Manager Signature: _________________________ Date: _________