What to Do If You've Been Put on a Performance Improvement Plan

Nobody enjoys being put on a performance improvement plan (PIP).  However, if you are put on one, it's a great idea to know how you should proceed at work going forward.  Read on to learn how best to navigate a PIP:

  1. Own It.  Avoid making excuses or denying responsibility.  Instead, be open to criticism and accept that you're going to have to haul up your sleeves to change your manager's perception of you.  Unfortunately, people tend to get defensive when they're given a PIP, and their negative attitude does nothing to help their cause.

  2. Establish Clear Metrics.  A PIP is going to detail areas for improvement.  Rather than signing a PIP that is murky in this area, ask for specifics.  For instance, let's say you're a salesperson and your manager is displeased with your recent sales.  Rather than signing a PIP that says you need to obtain higher sales, ask your manager to put his expectations in writing.  Does he want you to increase your sales by 10%? 20%?  You're going to want to know what the benchmark is so you can focus on exactly what you need to achieve.

  3. Ask for Time.  It never hurts to ask for additional time to achieve your performance goals.  If your manager has set 3 months as the deadline, consider requesting 6.  Change isn't accomplished overnight and the more time you have to meet your goals, the more confident you will be of your ability to do so.

  4. Have Positive Expectations.  If you've been thinking about changing jobs, this is probably a great time to be proactive about it.  However, if you like your job and want to remain there, have positive expectations.  All too often, people believe that once they receive a PIP, they're doomed.  However, this can become a self-fulfilling prophesy.  Instead, believe in yourself and your ability to meet the objectives established in your PIP, and you can overcome this.