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Performance Improvement Plans
A Performance Improvement Plan (PIP) is used when supervisors have identified a performance problem and recognize the problem is not the result of misconduct. A Performance Improvement Plan is implemented only after the position has been adequately defined, expectations have been clarified, and necessary training, coaching, and counseling have been ineffective. Performance Improvement Plans should never be implemented without assistance and approval from the Human Resources Department.
Performance Improvement Plans are designed to provide an employee with a clear understanding of any unmet expectations, an opportunity to meet the expectations, and a timeline within which they must do so. The ideal result of a Performance Improvement Plan is that the employee involved becomes capable of adequate performance. However, an unsuccessful Performance Improvement Plan will result in the employee being removed from the position.
Performance Improvement Plan Implementation
Give Written Notice of Unsatisfactory Performance
The employee must first receive a written notice indicating that their performance is unsatisfactory, including:
- A statement of the problem: This includes establishing expectations using the position description, identifying a deficiency, and defining the problem.
- Previous activities: Steps previously taken to bring about improvement including any assessment, coaching, training, conversations, or letters of instruction. These activities should have supporting documentation which includes specific dates and times. Any meetings the supervisor held to establish and clarify expectations based on the position description should be included as well.
- The impact of poor performance: Supervisors should be able to describe the impact of the performance issue(s) on co-workers, other staff and/or City residents or processes. This information is crucial for substantiating the reasonableness of the expectations of the position.
- Information on the initial PIP meeting: Set up a meeting to discuss performance improvement and make sure to send it to the applicable Union representative.
- Employee Assistance Program information: Provide information about the Employee Assistance Program. (Sample memo regarding EAP.)
Hold Initial Meeting
Supervisors should always ensure another supervisor or an HR representative or both are present during Performance Improvement Plan meetings to document the conversations. If the employee is represented, they may also have a union representative present. If the employee is not represented, a coworker may be allowed to be present.
- Explain the deficiency and expectations: Supervisors must focus on the position expectations and actual work product, and avoid making the conversation personal.
- Ask clarifying questions: Ask the employee why they believe they are unsuccessful at meeting expectations.
- Discuss ideas for improvement: Engage the employee in a discussion, encouraging their input and suggestions. Are there strategies that will allow the employee to succeed? Work together to develop a reasonable timeline.
Create and Issue Performance Improvement Plan
Supervisors should follow the Performance Improvement Plan meeting with a letter documenting the conversation and the plan for improvement. This letter should also include the following:
- Issues identified: The Performance Improvement Plan should establish specific expectations and performance goals, with associated deadlines for achievement of these goals. Some goals may be short-term, while others span the lifetime of the plan. Timelines must be reasonable, and expectations must be standard for the position and not specific to the employee.
- Previous activities: Highlight steps previously taken to bring about improvement, including any unsatisfactory assessment, coaching, training, conversations, letters of instruction, or other measures taken to bring about satisfactory performance.
- The impact of poor performance: Continue to describe the impact of the performance issue(s) on co-workers, other staff and/or City residents or processes.
- Follow-up meeting information: Include the purpose and frequency of follow-up meetings. They should be at least every two weeks for approximately six months.
- Consequence of failure to improve: Notice needs to be given to the employee of the consequences of failure to improve. Employees who do not adhere to the Performance Improvement Plan could face disciplinary action up to and including discharge from employment. However, failure to meet target deadlines does not provide a basis for disciplinary action.
Hold Follow-Up Meetings
The supervisor should establish a reasonable timeline to follow-up with the employee and discuss the Performance Improvement Plan. The supervisor should follow-up each meeting with a letter stating the employee’s progress toward the expectations and standards previously identified (see sample letters in the appendix of this manual). This does not limit the number of times a supervisor may observe the employee or engage in informal discussions regarding the employee’s performance.
Conclude the Performance Improvement Plan
The Performance Improvement Plan will conclude either when the employee reaches an acceptable level of performance, or the employee reaches the end of their Performance Improvement Plan period.
When the employee reaches an acceptable level of performance, the supervisor shall send the employee written notification stating the employee is no longer on a Performance Improvement Plan.
If performance does not improve adequately during the established Performance Improvement Plan period, the Human Resources Director may recommend the employee is terminated or otherwise removed from the position.
Performance Improvement Plans can be a long and difficult process. However, the impacts of poor performance can be significant and cause struggles for your whole team. Please contact Human Resources at any step of the process for assistance in managing performance.