Why Everyone Should Have A PIP

I really like the good work the folks over at Performance I Create do. Chris Ponder has assembled a group of writers who love their HR work and write with conviction.

Chris has written a couple of times about how to handle a PIP – a Performance Improvement Plan.

To me, this is an unfortunate acronym that has, in many workplaces, become synonymous with performance probation.  Comply with these instructions in the PIP, and you might get to continue your employment.

Here is what’s wrong with that notion – EVERYONE should have a specific, focused performance improvement plan if you want to make sure that skills and capabilities remain aligned with the business strategy. Everyone.

Leaders are fond of saying that people are our most important asset. Why is that? Because people can think and adapt. They can see patterns in work and identify how to improve them. They can create and innovate. They collaborate to find new and better products and methods.  We have a performance management cycle, however, that for some organizations becomes an exercise in exceed/pass/fail metrics that for many is non-motivational at best.

For three years my workplace has been creating an expectation that we all have personal development objectives. We are not rated on achieving these or not. The power in the process comes from identifying what areas of improvement could lead to greater results or preparation for a next-level job. We are reinforcing that for all employees, they drive their own careers. Careers are not accidental, they come from self-awareness, development, commitment, and performance. It doesn’t matter if your boss believes in you, it matters that you take matters into your own hands and make sure that tomorrow you are better than you were today. Every day is training day.

The expectation of performance improvement should not be threatening – it should be the norm. Can we erase the notion that a PIP is something to be feared? Feedback, as we know, is a gift, and a PIP may be a  wake-up call for some employees, but it should be a treasure map. The path to improved performance and greater opportunity.

Don’t let your business rely on only those employees who already understand this and manage their improvement. Make improvement the norm and you will demonstrate that your people truly are your most important asset.

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