Performance Improvement Plan (PIP)

What is a Performance Improvement Plan (PIP)?

The full form of PIP is a Performance Improvement Plan. It is a method for positively helping employees not meeting certain work performance standards and can benefit from intervention. It involves creating a clear written plan that aims to improve performance or behavior, with the goal of achieving positive outcomes.

The Performance Improvement Plan is usually a document that outlines areas where an employee is not meeting expectations and suggests ways for improvement. This plan may highlight skill gaps or training needs, or it might address necessary changes in behavior.

In simple terms, the PIP clearly outlines the steps the employee should take to enhance their performance.

Why are performance improvement plans important?

performance improvement plan benefits

A PIP or a performance improvement tool is important because it allows for both long-term resource management development and the addressing of daily issues. It strategically allocates resources to achieve specific goals.

It is a tool for making significant process improvements and fostering common understanding and focus. It establishes benchmarks through monitoring, aligns with the organization’s vision, and identifies structural deficiencies. It links policies to implementation plans, enhances accountability, builds confidence among stakeholders, and may prompt enabling legislation.

What are the key components of a performance improvement plan (PIP)?

performance improvement plan components

The key components of a performance improvement plan (PIP) include:


Planning involves defining performance expectations and goals for both groups and individuals, guiding their efforts toward reaching organizational objectives. It is a good practice to involve employees in the planning process. It helps them grasp the organization’s goals, the tasks at hand, the reasons behind them, and the effort or responsibility expected.

Written Warning

The written warning includes a clear explanation of the employee’s shortcomings, directly linking them to the performance standards of their role with specific details. Additionally, it outlines the expected level of performance, providing a comprehensive understanding of the improvement needed.


Monitoring includes regularly assessing performance and continually offering feedback to employees in the PIP regarding their advancement in achieving their goals.


Developing involves enhancing performance capacity through training, new assignments for skill growth, improved work processes, and other developmental methods. Offering training opportunities boosts performance, strengthens job-related skills, and helps employees adapt to workplace changes like new technology.

Management Actions during PIP

During the Performance Improvement Plan (PIP), management should take several actions to support employees in reaching their goals. This includes providing closer supervision and counseling, facilitating personal task accomplishment, and on-the-job training. PIP should also offer supervisory coaching, frequent feedback, assignment of special tasks, and implementation of formal training when necessary.


Rating, in the context of a Performance Improvement Plan (PIP), involves assessing employee performance against the elements and standards outlined in the performance plan. The assigned summary rating of the record is based on the work conducted throughout the entire PIP duration.


Rewarding entails acknowledging and recognizing employees for their improved performance and contributions to the agency’s mission. This recognition serves as a positive reinforcement for the progress made during the PIP.

Expiration of PIP

After the Performance Improvement Plan (PIP) concludes, if the employee’s performance remains unsatisfactory, the supervisor must take one of the following actions:

  • Reassign the employee to another position within the organization
  • Terminate the employee (for flexible positions only)
  • Prepare a notice of proposed demotion or removal (for regular positions only)

When is a PIP typically implemented?

A Performance Improvement Plan (PIP) is typically implemented when a performance issue is identified, starting as early as the Informal Performance Discussion during the informal stage of the performance improvement process. Subsequent PIPs may be issued in written documents during the formal stages of the PIP.

How long should a performance improvement plan last?

A Performance Improvement Plan (PIP) can be issued for a duration of 30, 60, or 90 days, determined at the supervisor’s discretion. The maximum allowable length for a PIP within the performance management period is 90 days.

Is PIP a disciplinary action?

No, a PIP or a Performance Improvement Plan is NOT a disciplinary action. It is an opportunity for the employee and their supervisor to collaboratively address significant concerns related to the employee’s performance.

A disciplinary action is a stricter response to underperformance, involving punitive measures. In contrast, a Performance Improvement Plan (PIP) is a more constructive approach, emphasizing improvement and skill development.

Does a PIP lead to a termination?

No, a PIP does not necessarily lead to a termination. However, if an employee fails to meet the work performance goals outlined in the Performance Improvement Plan, then the employer has the right to terminate the employee as per the given notice period.

What happens when an employee does not meet the goals outlined in a PIP?

If an employee does not meet the goals outlined in the Performance Improvement Plan (PIP), they may be required to attend a disciplinary meeting and receive a written warning. If their performance still does not improve after receiving one or more warnings, and there’s no reasonable excuse for the lack of improvement, their employment may be terminated.

What happens if an employee resigns during a PIP?

If an employee chooses to resign during a Performance Improvement Plan (PIP), the PIP process is typically not implemented or documented further. The main consequence may be reflected in future work references, where the employer might confirm only the service dates and can choose to refrain from responding to questions regarding the quality of work.

The decision to resign provides an alternative to completing the PIP, and the employee’s record may not carry the specifics of the performance improvement process.

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