performance improvement plan (PIP)

What to Do After Going on a PIP: An Action Plan for Employees

Your employer just placed you on a Performance Improvement Plan (PIP). It’s normal to feel discouraged and anxious, but a PIP could also empower you to take control of your performance and improve your standing.

What is a performance improvement plan? Employers use PIPs for employees who have hit a rough patch in their jobs, either for personal or professional reasons, and just aren’t performing as well as they usually do. A PIP is an action plan for employees, usually lasting between 30 and 90 days, to get them back on track. At its core, it’s also an employee expectations list that offers measurable, concrete ways to turn your performance around. In a worst-case scenario, you could be let go if you don’t meet the goals in the PIP.

As difficult as it might be right now, it’s time for you to take charge and turn the situation around. Read on for these employee performance improvement suggestions.


1. Know Your Performance Improvement Plan Employee Rights

Take the time to read the PIP document thoroughly before signing it. Make sure your signature only acknowledges receipt of the document—and not an admission of poor performance. Throughout the timeline of the PIP, keep a detailed log of your efforts so you are always prepared to show how hard you’ve been working to meet the PIP guidelines. It’s also a good idea to document your conversations with your manager along the way.

2. Remain Calm

It’s possible that you can emerge stronger from this experience. If you’re upset, take a deep breath and try to stay calm. After meeting with your manager about your PIP, focus on self-care—go for a long walk or talk with a trusted friend. You want to return to work with a clear head and a focus on reaching your goals.


employees discussing a performance improvement plan


3. Acknowledge Any Issues

For the PIP to be successful, you’ll need to agree with your manager that there is a problem and that you’re committed to fixing it. Or maybe you don’t necessarily agree right away, but let the news sink in first. Devote some time for self-reflection after the first meeting. What’s really going on at work or in your personal life that could be impacting your performance? Acknowledging the problem is the first step to correcting it.

4. Go Over the Requirements

Go over the specific improvements outlined in the PIP. What do you need to do, and do you have a reasonable amount of time and resources to accomplish the goals? Make sure you’re comfortable with the expectations. If the PIP offers a more generalized expectation of success, ask your manager to help you set specific target objectives for each week to keep you both accountable.


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5. Write Down What You Need to Do

Set up a plan to help you meet the PIP goals — whether it means taking a training class, searching for a mentor, or seeking advice from a colleague. You might find it helpful to speak with one of your high-performing coworkers. Ask them to share some of their success strategies. Be open to fresh insights, processes, and methods that can set you up for long-term improvement (even after the PIP has ended).

6. Reframe It as a Fresh Start

Your outlook during the PIP will be an important part of the plan’s success. Remember how excited and energized you felt on the first day of your job. Try to recapture some of that attitude and drive when you show up each day. Ask yourself questions like, What problems can I solve? How can I help my colleagues or my manager do their jobs better?

7. Check in Regularly With Your Manager

Meet with your manager as much as possible to discuss how you’re faring in this action plan for employees and any obstacles you’re facing. These conversations can help you stay on the same page and also help you head off any potential problems along the way.


As you consider this action plan for employees, prepare yourself for the possibility that the PIP might not work out. Even as you’re addressing these employee performance improvement plan suggestions, check out some iHire’s industry-specific talent communities to see if you could find a role that could be a better fit.

By iHire | May 27, 2021
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