When it comes to management, PIPs and their associated conversations are often dreaded.
From start to finish, the PIP process can be lengthy, require effort to gather the right documentation, and call for uncomfortable conversations. However, PIPs can also be straightforward, motivating, and beneficial for both the employee and the company in the long run—if managed well.
Regular discussions about employee performance should be encouraged to help managers pick up on underperformance or struggling employees fast.
Identifying and resolving issues in the workplace through frequent PIPs will enrich relationships, increase productivity, and generate a high-development workplace. Wondering why you should take them on with a positive attitude? Read on.
What is a personal improvement plan (PIP)?
A personal improvement plan is a formal document designed by managers to help underperforming employees get back on track. PIPs include goals to reach by a certain deadline—they tend to focus on specific areas of work that need improvement.
Four benefits to including personal improvement plans in your management method
More employees now work from home than ever before. Out of the 60% of Brits working remotely, half of them say they struggle with loneliness. Alongside its benefits, working from home can lead to low morale, poor job engagement, and a disconnect between colleagues.
As a manager or leader, don’t be afraid to pick out which team members are slipping through the gaps. Underperformance is not often due to laziness or boredom. Keep an eye out for your employees’ mental health by showing them genuine care and support.
A healthy and supported team is the starting block for success.
1. Motivate your employees to achieve their best
Setting PIPs and providing feedback, support, and guidance throughout will generate positive performance outcomes.
Studies show that 65% of employees are keen for more feedback to improve their work; millennials prefer regular monthly feedback. This suggests that PIPs aren’t just for struggling employees.
From such a structured action plan, anyone seeking to improve their performance, move up the career ladder, or transfer jobs can benefit.
However, for underperforming employees, a PIP can let them know that they’re still valued in the company. In this case, you still want them to be part of the team; they just need to improve in certain areas to bring the right things to the table.
Be sure to set appropriate goals, objectives, and actions. Also, make the consequences of not completing the PIP clear from day one.
Once your employee understands their value and contribution to the company, they are 45% more likely to report higher job satisfaction. Job satisfaction can raise sales by 37%, productivity by 41%, and task accuracy by 19%.
As a manager or leader, these growth statistics are music to the ears.
An achievable step-by-step action plan will motivate and help your employees to achieve their best. Pair that with some training and a friendly employer-employee relationship, and your employees are more likely to feel engaged, confident, and appreciated.
Enable employees to develop skills
Where possible, offer training as part of your personal improvement plans to those who once missed out or those who need a little extra help. This will help retain your workforce, decrease turnover, and can increase profit by 25% or more.
You can even open these training opportunities to other employees. Unite your employees through shared experience, and together they can improve in:
- Communication skills
- Team bonding
- Personal development
- Agile coaching
- Public speaking
The list goes on.
2. Build on your employer-employee relationships
PIPs start with a conversation. Take this opportunity to engage in open communication with your employees and show you’re looking out for them. Keep it calm, kind, and supportive.
In a professional relationship, friendliness, support, and empathy are a must.
By actively listening to your employees and being empathetic, they’ll be 4.6 times more likely to feel empowered to perform better. This is the perfect attitude for tackling a PIP.
Remember, your employees are individuals with their unique struggles outside of the office. A number of external factors may affect how they show up at work, so demonstrating your understanding and support is beneficial for their mental health, engagement at work, and consequently their overall performance. Happy employees can be up to 31% more productive.
Employees who feel their voice is heard and appreciated are more likely to:
- Be productive
- Be better problem-solvers
- Be proactive
- Be brand ambassadors
- Stay with the company for longer
- Impact other employees positively
These benefits can all come from a positive PIP strategy.
Like all others, an employee-employer relationship is a two-way street. These conversations also give room for your employees to give you feedback or constructive criticism.
23% of employees rate their leaders’ performance very poorly. Perhaps there are areas in which you could improve too.
Assure employees that your sessions are a safe space where they can speak their minds openly. Once you’ve built that trust, you could gain some great insights into your management style and find ways to become a better leader.
3. Improve company culture
PIPs demonstrate your company’s commitment to its goals and to maintaining acceptable levels of job performance. They promote a sense of accountability.
Employees whose performance is under constant assessment are more likely to be motivated to keep it up. However, 28% of employees say their occasional feedback isn’t enough to help them improve. By frequently setting PIPs and engaging in discussions on performance and feedback, you’ll foster a strong company culture and a rapidly developing team.
Benefits of a strong culture include:
- Open communication
- Shared company visions
- Reduced staff turnover
Plus, for 74% of global workers, company culture plays an important role in job satisfaction.
Bear in mind that trust is also key in establishing and maintaining both a strong company culture and employee motivation.
In highly trusted workplaces, employees have 106% more energy and are 50% more productive. Avoid pressuring employees to complete tasks—check in on them instead.
With sufficient time, trust, and regular feedback, your team will be able to work more efficiently.
By normalizing PIPs, your highly motivated and performing employees will together cultivate a high-performance culture.
4. Generate more capable and driven employees
Employees are more likely to remain motivated if they see positive consequences of doing so. For example, 63% of employees whose achievements are recognized are more likely to remain loyal to the company.
Let your employees know that they’re assets of the company by positively reinforcing and recognizing their behavior, particularly when they have successfully completed a PIP.
Praising employees who have rightly proved themselves throughout their PIP indirectly boosts team morale by avoiding the disappointment associated with negative feedback and staff turnover.
How to show employee recognition? There are a number of ways—some more subtle than others.
From a short email of thanks to a grand meal, recognition will increase employee motivation and productivity. 40% of American employees say they’ll be more proactive at work if they receive more frequent recognition. Additionally, 50% of employees rather work for recognition-rich companies than work in high-paid jobs that don’t recognize good work.
A study shows that words of affirmation and gift-giving are the most desired forms of recognition in the workplace. However you choose to acknowledge hard work, make sure it’s specific, focused, and personal to show you truly value what’s been done.
Direct recognition of one employee sets examples of behavior to others. With more incentive than a paycheck to work towards, you can inspire your team to keep up their good work. In turn, this will improve your company’s reputation.
Don’t ditch the documentation
From start to finish, PIPs require a lot of documentation on your employees. Save these, particularly performance data and other feedback, for future references. They might come in handy when designing future PIPs, analyzing successes, or finding ways to boost productivity levels.
Performance management tools such as Perkbox, Pavestep, or Dominion will make the process easier. There’s plenty of digital software and support out there.
Ready to help your team thrive?
PIPs don’t have to be the initial stepping stone for dismissal. They’re an efficient way to support your employees, help your team develop, and enrich relationships within the workplace.