How to put an employee on a Performance Improvement Plan (PIP)

July 10, 2024

Managing employee performance is a key part of effective leadership. For the most part, your direct reports will cause no reason for concern. However, every now and then, improvement may be required to ensure an employee can reach their full potential and enable the organisation to get the most value from their employment.

Performance improvement plans (PIPs) are a useful, first-stage tool to achieve this before going down the disciplinary or capability route and, in this blog post, we share the step-by-step process of placing an employee on a PIP.




What is a performance improvement plan?

A Performance Improvement Plan (PIP) is a document outlining specific goals, expectations, and timelines for employees whose performance has fallen below the organisation’s standards. It is a structured process to identify areas of concern and provide clear, actionable steps for improvement.

A PIP is designed to support employees in meeting their performance targets through regular feedback, training, and resources – ultimately aiming to align their performance with business objectives and mitigate the need for a more formal disciplinary or capability process.

How do you know when to put an employee on a performance improvement plan?

There may be a few reasons why you would place an employee on a performance improvement plan, but the most common is due to consistent underperformance despite clear communication and informal feedback. Look for regular occurrences of missed deadlines, low-quality work, or failure to achieve set targets.

You may find that a team member’s poor performance has become burdensome on the wider team. For example, causing delays, increasing workload for other employees, or even negatively impacting the organisation’s goals or objectives. This might also be the time to introduce a PIP, as you can back up the reason behind your decision.

In addition, you might need to consider a performance improvement plan for a team member due to behavioural issues. Things like poor attendance, lack of cooperation with team members, or a consistently negative attitude. After all, performance isn’t solely about hitting set goals and timelines – it also relates to an employee’s level of professionalism.

How do you put an employee on a performance improvement plan?

If you feel that one of your employees needs to be placed on a performance improvement plan, you can follow the below steps:

1. Identify performance issues

The first action is to highlight and collate examples of underperformance, which will usually include at least one of the issues mentioned above. You should be able to prove that this individual has already received some feedback with chances to make improvements before introducing the performance improvement plan.

It can also be helpful to check in with your HR team, or an outsourced HR consultant if you do not have one, to ensure that you have the necessary documented evidence to back up the PIP and comply with any existing company policies.

2. Develop a draft performance improvement plan document

Next, you need to create a detailed PIP document. This should include:

3. Schedule a formal meeting with the employee

Once the draft performance improvement plan document is created, you must discuss this to your team member. Set up a meeting to run through the reasonings and planned actions or goals – ensuring that the employee fully understands their performance issues, set targets, and any support available.

You may also want to clarify that the PIP is being implemented to help the employee improve where performance is a concern and that the end goal is for them to succeed in their role.

4. Put the plan into action

Now that you and your employee are both clear on actions, goals, and support, it’s time to kick that plan into action. Over the next 30 to 90 days, ensure you schedule at least three different check-in meetings so you can monitor progress, any challenges faced and provide feedback or additional support.

During these check-in sessions, it’s important to make detailed notes of any comments or actions for transparency and accountability. You may need to refer back to a timeline of the PIP at a later date.

5. Evaluate the outcome for next steps

At the end of the performance improvement plan period, you should review and evaluate the employee’s performance against the goals or objectives set. Schedule a final meeting to discuss the next steps, which will usually stem from one of two outcome options:


If your organisation needs hands-on HR support, could benefit from professional advice for situations such as implementing an effective performance improvement plan, or wants access to templates including PIP documents, Vero HR can help. We can provide you with dedicated HR services to effectively manage your workforce. Contact us to discover all support options available.


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