How to Write a PIP

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Supervisors use PIPs to improve their employees' performance.
Supervisors use PIPs to improve their employees' performance. (Image: Thinkstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images)

A PIP, or Performance Improvement Plan, is a formal document prepared by supervisors to address problems with an employee's on-the-job performance. It is generally prepared and given to an employee after more informal counseling sessions have been deemed ineffective. Overall, the main functions of a PIP are to advise the employee of his shortcomings, specify an improvement plan and provide a clear warning that if performance is not improved, the employee may face demotion or termination.

Identify the employee's unacceptable performance and lay it out clearly in the PIP with specific examples of his job deficiencies. It is important to be specific and clear so that the employee will fully understand the areas where improvement is needed. For example, if an employee has productivity issues, you may include a statement that reads, "Fails to complete assignments in a timely manner. Completed assignments lack quality and often contain typographical and accounting errors," or "Employee fails to show initiative and requires direct supervision to complete tasks successfully."

Define the employee's job description and duties clearly so she understands what is expected of her.

Outline what is expected of the employee to bring his performance back up to a satisfactory level. This should be very specific and include the types of assistance or training he'll be provided (if applicable).

Provide a timeline over which performance must improve. Typically, PIPs provide timelines of 60 to 90 days, though you may select a date range you feel is appropriate for the required improvements. Along with this timeline, you may wish to establish a series of short- and long-range goals to keep the employee on track and provide measurable progress.

Identify the consequences for failure to improve. Consequences may include a demotion or termination from the company.

Sign and date the PIP. Upon reviewing the PIP with the employee, she must sign the document, as well.

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