Paul Kerr.
By Paul Kerr. on March 21, 2024

Performance Improvement Plan Process

A performance improvement plan; or PIP, is a personalised, structured outline of targets, goals and deadlines for an employee to follow according to their current performance, expected performance, job role, any upcoming change to their job role and general professional expectations.
Here we take you through the useful considerations for a PIP, from when to use one, to how to structure it and why.

Table of contents:

When is a PIP enacted?

Typically a PIP will be assigned to an employee by their immediate manager, with an oversight and possible approval process by HR. Commonly they are assigned because the employee is not meeting the professional expectations of their role. However, they can also be assigned because it is believed the employee will benefit from a more structured and goal-oriented understanding of their role and requirements. In both cases it is believed the employee has the potential to carry out their role satisfactorily and in both cases it is believed that the quality and/or quantity of work output will be increased by this approach. With the latter case though the employee is already achieving the desired minimum, yet a PIP is implemented to help them surpass “satisfactory” performance and progress towards “excellent”.

What does it entail?

A PIP will be a written report of current gaps in skills, abilities and performance of the employee as compared to the requirements for their role, with clearly defined future expectations for the employee from management. It should also feature a timeline of actions to be undertaken that will address these issues. A PIP should always be customised to the individual employee, not a general template. It should also include any expectations that are currently being met by the employee, not only areas for improvement. Deadlines should also be implemented to provide both management/HR and the employee with an agreed upon means of measuring progress.


Usually a manager would determine the performance problems of the employee, raise the process with HR and then have a discussion with the employee to determine a reasonable timeline, goals, targets and deadlines.

The timeline for a PIP can encompass several months, often they are 30, 60 or 90 day processes, so this is an ongoing task that should have agreed upon review points to assess progress and any issues or support requirements.

Direct benefit

  • Ideally the employee will follow the outlined process and achieve their goals and targets within the defined time periods. By doing so, they will be a far more effective employee within their role than they previously were and now performing to at least the minimum expectation of management.

  • If the employee is unable to follow the PIP process; or reach the stated goals and targets, management know with certainty that they are unsuitable for the role. A process of role reassignment or replacement for the role can now take place without doubts.

Indirect benefits

  • PIP´s can benefit company culture by assuring an objective, and so fair, means of avoiding disciplinary proceedings by providing a means of investigation of faults, who or what is accountable and the chance to redress any employee shortcomings. 

  • The employee is provided their current status and a clear pathway to success, empowering them to take control and develop personally on a structured self-growth trajectory. 

  • Management and HR are able to clearly communicate their specific requirements to the employee and if successful convert a possibly problematic employee into a model employee. If unsuccessful, the fact a PIP has been attempted can be beneficial to the company in any future employment dispute/litigation proceedings.

  • The process of creating and implementing a PIP can also serve an indirect benefit to management and HR. By identifying and discussing believed employee weaknesses with the employee, direct feedback on specific issues and business impacts can be obtained. This feedback can identify weaknesses in other areas of the business, such as training, communication, ongoing support, tools or other resources etc

OpenHR Solutions

At OpenHR we provide an extensive suite of programs that aid in the administration of your workforce at all levels and throughout all processes and procedures. Using our interlinking Performance Management, Internal Communication and Task Management programs greatly reduces the time required to invest in PIP processes whilst providing clear and reliable data to base decisions upon and easy to use dynamic workflows to aid the process from start to finish. From initially identifying poor employee performance, to defining the involved parties and their respective workflows, to assigning corrective actions and monitoring their completion, to maintaining transparent communication throughout this process and others, our software saves time and improves outcomes at every step of the way.