HR Brew: Performance improvement plans should never be a surprise

UC management professor says PIPs are more likely to succeed if the employee is involved

A performance improvement plan (PIP), per the Society for Human Resource Management, is a “structured plan with time-sensitive goals” used to rectify poor employee performance.

However, Scott Dust, an associate management professor at the University of Cincinnati’s Carl H. Lindner College of Business, told HR Brew that PIPs should:


Scott Dust, an associate management professor at the Carl H. Lindner College of Business.

  • Be viewed as a last option to correct performance problems.
  • Never be a surprise to the employee.
  • Be presented to the employee by both the manager and HR, with the way the PIP is communicated being critical.

“There should be conversations that preceded that actual delivery of the performance improvement plan, where everybody was involved,” Dust said. 

Dust explained that if an employee is involved in construction of the PIP, the PIP is more likely to have the intended positive effect.

“Goals have a higher likelihood of being obtained when they’re specific, difficult … and participatory,” Dust said. “If the employee and the manager cocreate these goals, you have a higher likelihood of being successful than when the manager just pushes down.”

Read more in HR Brew.

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