How to survive a performance improvement plan

One of my first posts on this blog talks about my dissonance with the performance improvement plan. Turns out, that post has generated more views than all others combined. Fast forward to 3 years later, I’m talking about PIP’s again – only this time, I’m talking about how to survive one.

If you are on a PIP and you googled your way to this post, you are already halfway there. The mere fact that somewhere in your mind, you’ve decided you want to pull through is the start that you are looking for. The following points will just help seal the victory:

1. Don’t let it get to you

This is the single most important thing. I know it’s easier said than done. I also know that all the emotions that you are going through are valid; but they are also inhibiting. You need to be able to put your emotions aside and not let it overwhelm you.  I don’t have the statistics but you aren’t the only one. I’ve seen brilliant employees emerge from improvement plans. Take it as a wakeup call.

2. Analyze what went wrong

Unless you fix what’s broken, you aren’t going to get ahead. Figure what got you to where you are. If that needs discussions with your manager, HR or team members, be courageous to have them. You need to know what went wrong. There is no getting around that.

3. Critically review the plan

Understand what is expected from you during the period of review. Critically evaluate your goals and check if realistic. Have an honest conversation with everyone in the room if you think the deliverables are too ambitious. Understand their point of view. It will be a difficult conversation, but one that you need to have to set yourself up for success.

4. Slog

There is no other way. You must work your ass off and demonstrate how great you can be at what you do.

5. Get support

Surround yourself with people who believe in you and will urge you to put your best foot forward. Shrug off the naysayers. You know what you are capable of. Only keep those around who believe in you more than you do.

There are two more things before I close. Firstly, pick on the warning signs. There will be mails from managers pointing out that you are dropping the ball. Don’t let those mails repeat. Push performance and it is likely that you won’t end up on a performance plan in the first place. Secondly, once on a PIP, begin to look outside for opportunities. The table could turn either ways. It’s best to keep options open.

Lastly, it will without doubt, be a tough phase. It’s a phase I wouldn’t want anyone to go through but it does make one stronger.

Good luck!


2 thoughts on “How to survive a performance improvement plan

  1. I wonder if there are any statistics available on the number of employees who are not actually terminated at the end of the PIP.

    1. It’s is very rare that any organization share statistics surrounding this. The bright side is that I have seen a large number of people get out of plans successfully. Throw out the statistics. There’s only one case that matters and that is yours! Good luck

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