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Navigating Performance Improvement: A Comprehensive Guide to PIPs

The foundU Team
May 14, 2024
8 Min Read

There are many important onboarding tools available to you as an employer or manager to help manage your employees and foster a productive workplace. Performance improvement plans are a vital tool if you find that an employee’s performance is lacking. It is a structured approach and roadmap to promote improved employee performance, so you do not need to ‘play by ear’ in such challenging circumstances.

In this blog, we will explore what a performance improvement plan is, why you should use it, when you should implement it, its benefits and disadvantages, and more.


What is a Performance Improvement Plan?

Firstly, let’s look at what a performance improvement plan is. A ‘PIP’, as it is also known, is a document that records your employees’ performance shortcomings and outlines the steps they need to take to improve to an acceptable level. Employers use this as a constructive tool to address poor employee performance and facilitate meeting performance standards.


Why Use a Performance Improvement Plan

A good performance improvement plan is designed to help employees who are having difficulties performing well at work. It provides a structured approach to identifying the necessary improvements and outlines clear steps that employees need to take to arrive at the required performance levels. You may choose to use a PIP as a proactive tool to help your underperforming employees improve before more drastic measures are considered.


When to Implement a Performance Improvement Plan

Some of the situations or performance issues that typically warrant the implementation of a performance improvement plan include:

Continuous underperformance – when an employee fails to meet minimum expected performance without improvement over time.

Failure to meet specific job standards – when the employee’s underperformance impacts the business, for instance, through client dissatisfaction.

Behavioural issues that affect workplace dynamics – when an employee’s conduct has a negative effect on others.


When to Avoid a Performance Improvement Plan

There are certain circumstances where implementing a performance improvement plan may not be appropriate or effective. For instance, when an employee initially claims to have vital skills for the role that they do not actually possess or these skills are far below a satisfactory level. It may become apparent that the lack of skills requires retraining beyond the scope of the performance improvement plan.

Other reasons to avoid implementing a PIP are when there are clear signs that an employee is not a good fit for their role or the company’s culture.


The Benefits of a Performance Improvement Plan

Using a performance improvement plan is excellent for:

Clarifying expectations – clear, open, transparent communication is at the centre of good management. A PIP can help you be direct about exactly what you require of your employee.

Providing structured feedback – PIPs are a great tool for documenting progress and feedback.

Fostering professional growth – the PIP process can have an enriching effect on the employee, enabling them to up-skill and grow professionally.

Ultimately, using a PIP has the potential to turn around poor performance and help integrate your employees more effectively into the team.


The Disadvantages of Using a Performance Improvement Plan

There are some downsides and criticisms you need to be aware of that can potentially be directed at management who use performance improvement plans. For instance, there is the perception that PIPs are a precursor to job termination, which may cause stress for employees. This, in turn, can impact morale at the workplace if the employees share their fears, creating a sense of unrest. The sense of unknowing and presumption on the part of the employees or the mismanagement of PIPs on the part of management can lead to negative outcomes. For this reason, it is recommended that employees are always included in the development of their PIP and that communication be kept clear, open, and transparent. It is also essential to handle the process with sensitivity, given the stress it may cause, in order to aim for the best possible outcomes.


What are the Steps to Implementing a PIP?

It may be helpful to explore an example of a performance improvement plan outline. Below is a step-by-step process you could use to implement your PIP.

  1.  Begin with the initial identification of performance issues by the employee.
  2.   If you feel that the performance issue can be positively resolved (and if the employee is valued), then proceed with creating a PIP.
  3.   Involve the employee in the creation of the PIP so that it is a collaborative exercise.
  4.  Engage human resources to help draw up a plan with clearly laid out tasks and actions.
  5.  Identify the supporting resources required for the plan to be successful. These may include mentoring or training.
  6.  Create a timeline for the PIP rollout and schedule regular meetings to evaluate progress. Ensure that the meetings and agreed-upon progress are kept to specific deadlines.


How foundU Enhances the PIP Process

foundU is an all-in-one platform for managing employees. It aids in monitoring employee performance, scheduling evaluations and maintaining all required documentation. foundU enhances the PIP process by giving you prompts and automating aspects of the process where appropriate. 

Using such technological tools can make the performance improvement plan process more transparent and much easier to manage—and ultimately be fair and equitable for both you and your employees.



As a manager or employer dealing with an underperforming employee, using a platform like foundU can streamline the process of managing performance improvement plans. This ensures that all necessary legal and procedural steps are correctly followed, offering peace of mind.

Do you want to find out how integrating foundU can make navigating the PIP process at your workplace easy and efficient?

Contact us today to see how our solutions can support your HR needs.

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