Performance Improvement Planning: Definition and Examples

HR leaders shape and solidify a performance review process that allows managers and contributors to assess performance candidly. But what happens when an employee’s performance is called into question? Or when an employee reaches out for help and guidance in terms of reaching their goals? That’s when it’s time to create a performance improvement plan.

A performance improvement plan (PIP), also known as a performance action plan, is a tool to give an employee with performance deficiencies the opportunity to succeed. It may be used to address failures to meet specific job goals or to ameliorate behavior-related concerns.

HR Basics: Performance Improvement Plans

Benefits of a performance improvement plan

Here are the benefits of a performance improvement plan:

Motivates you to perform at your best

A performance improvement plan can encourage you to excel within your job. It lets you know that your manager or supervisor cares about you and wants to see you improve. When you feel valued, you are more likely to be engaged and productive.

Prepares you for promotion

If your manager wants to prepare you for a new job, they often give you a set of tasks and guidance with a PIP. If the results are positive, you may be able to earn a promotion.

Improves your skills and abilities

A performance improvement plan helps you realize your own potential by allowing you to improve the skills you already have and show how you can gain new ones. You may also be able to better measure your progress as you develop your abilities with a PIP, which can help you demonstrate your effort to your manager.

What is a performance improvement plan?

A performance improvement plan, also called an employee performance action plan, is a document that details the areas where an employee is lacking and what they can do to improve. It usually has a deadline for achieving the specified objective—typically 30, 60 or 90 days. It also specifies the potential outcomes should their work performance continue to not meet standards.

A performance improvement plan can also prepare you for a promotion or lateral move. If your employer sees that you would be better suited for another job, they may put you on a performance improvement plan to see if you can actually perform the new tasks and how well. It gives your manager a chance to determine whether youre suitable for the role before approving this change. It also helps you decide if you want to make the job move.

Tips for performance improvement planning

As an employee, it can be helpful to know how to respond to a PIP if you receive one. Here are a few tips on how to respond to a performance improvement plan:

Determine your next steps

Make sure to review the plan, verify its accuracy and ensure you feel comfortable with the progress you need to make. If you have any questions about what your supervisor expects, make sure to ask them so you have a clear idea of what you need to do and how they plan to measure your progress. Being clear about the PIPs terms can help you work through the process with certainty.

Consider what you can do to improve

After reviewing the PIP, think about what you can do to reach the goals listed. Some potential steps you could take include:

Seek help when you need it

Asking for help is a sign of your strength, especially when you are on a performance improvement plan. Draw on your mentors, supervisors and manager for guidance, support and advice. Ask your manager to review your work or project. You can share your work performance plan with your mentors and ask for their ideas. You can also ask your coworkers to review the tasks or projects you have completed to ensure your work is accurate.

Performance improvement plan samples

Here are some examples of performance improvement plans:

Example 1

Chase San
Account Manager
December 1, 2020

Reason for Improvement Plan

The purpose of this performance improvement plan is to identify issues in your work performance, clarify the expectations of the position and help you remain in good standing at ComTech Company.

Performance Improvement Plan

This document gives you a plan to improve your performance in the following areas:

Action Items to Improve Performance

To improve your performance, you are required to complete the following activities within 60 days:

By following this performance improvement plan, we are confident you will be able to improve performance and meet the expectations of CompTech Company.

If you fail to meet 70% of your Q4 quota and achieve a customer retention rate of 60% by December 31, 2020, you will be subject to disciplinary action, including transfer, demotion or termination.


Example # 2

*Supervisor Name: Erlinda Harrison, Human Resources Manager*

*Employee Name: Jackson Smith, Customer Service Representative*

*Date: December 31, 2020*

*Reason: You have continually exceeded your sales numbers by 10% every quarter for the past five quarters. Due to your achievements, we would like to put you on a PIP to help you prepare for a sales manager position.*

*Expectations: For the next 30 days, we want you to lead Team A in a supervisory role. New duties will include leading the shift meeting, resolving escalated customer issues, answering employee questions and making contact with 10 new customers per week. If you perform satisfactorily at the end of 30 days, we will begin processing your promotion to sales manager.*

*Recommendations: Youll find a set of links below that direct you to helpful resources within our database. If you have questions throughout the duration of the period, feel free to ask me. Ill send you an email invitation shortly.*

[Manager Signature]


[Employee Signature]


Example #3

Employee name: Katrina Quidotti

Job title: Data Scientist 1

Date: February 15, 2021

*Reason for performance improvement plan: On January 24th, we discussed issues in your data entry. On two occasions, it was found that you entered data incorrectly into a large data set and the error was not detected until the data was processed. On Friday, February 12th, you made a mistake in recording customer engagement information by not including one of the variables in the data set. This has caused inaccurate and skewed visualizations to be produced.*

*Expectations: Take caution when performing data entry and ensure all inputs reflect data accurately. Also, ensure that visualizations are accurate and data is properly processed.*


I will be checking in on your progress every week (Fridays at 10:00 a.m.) and regularly reviewing the results of your tasks as they are completed. This performance improvement plan is effective today and spans the next 30 days. I will review the results of your efforts on February 30, 2021.

[Manager Signature]


[Employee Signature]



What should be included in a performance improvement plan?

Here are some ways to make sure your PIPs will help you reach your objectives
  • Open up a dialogue with the employee first. …
  • Find the root causes of the issues. …
  • Start the PIP process by setting achievable goals. …
  • Provide guidance and positive reinforcement. …
  • Provide the necessary resources, training and time. …
  • Check in regularly.

Does a performance improvement plan mean I’m getting fired?

How do you write a PIP performance improvement plan?
  1. Identify the performance/behavior that needs improving.
  2. Provide specific examples for reasoning.
  3. Outline expected standard.
  4. Identify training and support.
  5. Schedule check-ins and review points.
  6. Sign and acknowledge.

What are the 6 techniques for improving performance?

How to Write a Performance Improvement Plan
  • Know the right circumstances for a performance improvement plan.
  • Describe the problem and the desired goal.
  • Lay out required employee actions and clear metrics for success.
  • Detail the available organizational support.
  • Explain milestones for follow-up.

What is an example of performance improvement?

Employment Termination Possibility

A PIP is often the start of paperwork that will eventually result in employment termination. That should not be the goal of the PIP although it is suspected, in many organizations, that it is—which is why being placed on or a PIP has such a negative impact on employees.

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