Last week I discussed when a Performance Improvement Plan can be a valuable HR tool and the first few sections of a typical PIP. Today, I discuss the second half of the PIP: the carrot and the stick.
So what’s the carrot? After the specific issues and expectations are set out, a PIP should include a section entitled something like, “Support for You.” This section sets out how the employer is going to help the employee succeed. Typical support mechanisms include regular 1:1 meetings with the employee’s supervisor, training, EAP counseling, and access to other resources. These things may seem obvious, but it’s important that they be spelled out explicitly so that the employee cannot say the employer was just going through the motions and the PIP was a set-up. In addition, setting this out makes clear to the supervisor what his or her role is.
The stick? This comes in a section entitled something like, “Consequences and Next Steps.” Here the employee is told
- His or her supervisor/manager will be monitoring his or her performance during a stated time period. Typically this is 2-5 months, but the length of time depends on the nature of the problem.
- By a specified date at the end of this time period, the supervisor will meet with the employee to assess the degree to which he or she has been successful in meeting and maintaining the expectations set out in the plan.
- At that time, the supervisor will determine if the employee has made sufficient progress to either end the plan or extend it in specified respects. If the supervisor finds that the employee has not met and maintained the expectations at a sufficient level, the supervisor will consider additional steps, up to and including termination of employment.
- A sentence stating that the Employer retains the right to terminate employment earlier if immediate termination is warranted.
The wrap up. The PIP can end with a thank you. It is then signed and dated by the employee.
If desired, an acknowledgement paragraph can be put after the signature line in which the employee states that he or she has read and fully understand the contents of the PIP and understands that the PIP does not create a guarantee of continued employment or alter the at-will status of his or her employment. Your employment counsel may have other suggestions as well.
One additional note: You have to follow up if a PIP is to have any value. Without the monitoring and support, a PIP is just another piece of paper.
So what have your experiences been with PIPs? ~Amy Stephson