Empowering Success: Craft Effective Performance Improvement Plans

Performance Improvement Plan

Ever found yourself scratching your head, wondering how to help team members reach their full potential when their performance isn’t quite hitting the mark?

With this blog, we’ve got your back with a guide that takes the mystery out of creating Performance Improvement Plans (PIPs). No jargon, no confusion—just straightforward advice on how to turn struggling performances into success stories.

With our best practices and real-world examples, you’ll learn how to set clear goals, monitor progress, and provide the support and recognition your team members need to shine.

What is a Performance Improvement Plan?

A Performance Improvement Plan (PIP) is a tool to give an employee with performance deficiencies the opportunity to improve their performance.

A PIP covers specific areas of performance management deficiencies, identifies skills or training gaps, and sets clear expectations for an associate’s future behavior. Objectives must be met within a certain period, and failure to do so may result in employment actions such as termination.

The role of HR in a PIP is to work with the employee’s managers to determine whether a PIP is appropriate and to provide guidance to both the manager and employee for the duration of the plan.

What does a PIP include?

Facing a Performance Improvement Plan (PIP)? Think of it as your tailored roadmap to success. This structured plan sets clear goals and expectations for your role while pinpointing improvement areas. It’s all about actionable steps and a defined timeline to help you enhance your skills and excel in your position.

Within the plan, you’ll find the specific areas for growth and the support you need, from regular check-ins and Performance Management Feedback to resources like training. Your progress will be evaluated, and while the PIP focuses on improvement, it’s also an opportunity to address challenges and receive guidance.

Remember, the aim is to help you thrive in your role while fostering growth and development. Keep an open line of communication with your manager throughout the process and embrace this chance to enhance your skills and contribute to the team’s success.

How to Make a Performance Improvement Plan?

Step 1: Set clear goals for performance improvement

Setting clear goals is like the North Star in a PIP. It keeps everyone heading in the same direction. But before we jump into it, let’s talk about whether your employee actually needs a PIP. Once you’ve gathered this info, you’ll have a solid idea of whether a PIP is required.

Understand whether employees need a PIP

You know, a PIP isn’t like a one-size-fits-all solution. It’s more like a tailored suit – it should fit the situation perfectly. To decide if a PIP is needed, take a close look at the data:

  • Check the numbers: Look at the performance metrics – those numbers don’t lie. For example, if your sales rep consistently falls below their monthly targets, that’s a clear signal that something’s off.
  • Listen to the chatter: Get feedback from colleagues and customers. They might have noticed things that numbers can’t capture. Maybe clients are complaining about response times, which is impacting the team.
  • Write it down: Keep a record of what’s going wrong. Document specific instances of underperformance. Describe what happened, when it happened, and what the impact was. It’s like building a case.
  • Benchmark it: Compare their performance to industry standards or your company’s benchmarks. If they’re far below what’s considered the norm, it’s a red flag.

Define clear objectives and expectations

Now, let’s set some clear goals. Be specific about what you want to see improve. Think SMART – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound.

The employee needs to know exactly what’s expected of them during the PIP, and you both need to be on the same page.

Here’s an example: Instead of saying, “Sarah needs to improve her sales,” you could go with, “Sarah needs to increase her monthly sales revenue by 10% in the next three months by trying out a new sales strategy.”

Step 2: Regularly evaluate performance

Alright, you’ve got your goals in place. Next up, let’s figure out how to measure progress effectively.

Set clear criteria for measuring performance

What are the key things you’ll be looking at? These are your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), and they should match those SMART goals you set earlier.

Picture this: If the goal is to boost sales revenue, your KPIs might include tracking the number of sales calls made each week, the conversion rate, and the revenue from new clients.

Use metrics and tools

Time to get a bit techy! You can make your life easier using tools like spreadsheets, CRM software, or performance dashboards to keep tabs on the numbers.

Think about this: You implement a cool CRM system to track Sarah’s sales activities in real time. It’s like having a personal assistant who tells you how she’s doing against those KPIs.

Identify performance gaps

Don’t be shy about pointing out where your team member is falling short. Be specific and document instances where things didn’t go as planned. And don’t forget to offer some helpful feedback to get them back on track.

For instance: If Sarah’s conversion rate is below what you’re aiming for, you can go over actual sales calls together, showing her where she might have missed opportunities. Encourage her to tweak her sales pitch or follow-up approach.

Step 3: Provide feedback and coaching


Make it a habit to offer both positive and constructive feedback regularly. When you see something done well, acknowledge it. When you spot areas that need improvement, address them promptly.

For example, if an employee consistently meets deadlines, commend them for their reliability. On the flip side, if their communication with clients needs improvement, discuss it with them as soon as you notice.


To address specific performance issues, consider coaching and training sessions. These can be one-on-one or group sessions, depending on the nature of the problem. Focus on practical skills and knowledge to help the employee bridge the performance gap.

Imagine this: If an employee struggles with time management, you could provide time management training and then follow up with individual coaching to tailor the strategies to their unique needs.

Step 4: Develop a Performance Improvement Plan

Remember, developing a PIP is a collaborative effort, and it’s all about setting a clear path for improvement together.

Collaborate with employees to create a performance improvement plan

This is a team effort, and collaboration is key. You don’t want this to be a top-down thing; it’s more like a partnership. Here’s how you can work together:

Sit down for a chat, make it a comfortable space, and listen carefully. Ask open-ended questions to get to the root of the issues.

Share your perspective and the data you’ve gathered and encourage them to share their ideas on how to improve.

Together, decide on the specific goals for the PIP. Make sure they align with what you both discussed.

Clearly outline the areas for improvement and the steps to achieve them

Now that you’ve got a clear understanding of the issues, it’s time to map out the route to improvement.

  • Define improvement areas: Pinpoint the exact areas that need improvement. For example, if it’s time management, specify which aspects, like meeting deadlines or prioritizing tasks.
  • Break it down: Divide the improvement areas into smaller, manageable steps. It’s like breaking a big task into smaller to-dos. If it’s time management, one step might be to use a time-tracking tool.
  • Set deadlines: Assign deadlines to each step. Deadlines add a sense of urgency and help track progress. Think of it as setting checkpoints along the journey.
  • Be realistic: Ensure that the steps are achievable within the given timeframes. It’s like setting a pace you can maintain during a long hike.

Set specific milestones and targets to track progress

You wouldn’t embark on a road trip without markers to show you’re on the right track, right? Similarly, you need milestones to measure progress in your PIP.

  • Define milestones: Decide on specific milestones that mark significant progress. For instance, if it’s about improving customer response times, a milestone could be reducing response times by 20% within the first month.
  • Trackable targets: Each milestone should have clear, trackable targets. These are like signposts on your journey. Make sure they’re measurable, like “respond to all customer inquiries within 24 hours.”
  • Regular check-ins: Schedule regular check-in meetings to review progress. This is where you’ll see if you’re hitting those milestones. It’s like checking the GPS during a road trip to ensure you’re on course.

Step 5: Monitor and track progress

  • Clear measurement metrics: So, you’ve got your plan in action, right? Well, to see how it’s going, you need some measuring sticks. Think of these as your performance scorecards. Make sure they’re crystal clear and directly tied to your goal.
  • Let’s say: You’re aiming to boost customer happiness; your scorecard might have monthly customer survey ratings or the number of glowing customer testimonials.
  • Regular check-ins: We don’t want this PIP thing to be a one-and-done deal. Regular check-ins are like those pit stops during a long road trip. Set up meetings with your team members at regular intervals. This keeps everyone on the same page.
  • Picture this: You and your team member meet every couple of weeks to discuss how things are going. It’s like a progress report, and it’s pretty darn helpful.
  • Document progress and changes: Don’t let all that hard work go unnoticed. Keep a record of what’s happening. Note the wins, the bumps in the road, and any changes you make to the plan. It’s like a diary of your journey to improvement.
  • Imagine: You have a shared document where you and your team members can jot down updates and thoughts. It’s like your PIP journal, tracking your progress together.

Step 6: Provide recognition and appreciation

Timely and specific recognition: Don’t wait around when you see something good happening. Give a shoutout right away! Be specific about what impressed you. And mean it! Authentic praise goes a long way.

Here’s the deal: If your team member has made strides in client communication and you notice it, shoot them a message saying, “Hey, your client interactions have been awesome lately, and it’s making a real difference. Keep it up!”

Public and private recognition: Now, not everyone likes the same kind of spotlight. Some folks thrive on public recognition, like a high-five during a team meeting or a company-wide email. Others prefer a more low-key, one-on-one pat on the back. Know your team member’s style and go with it.

Think about it: During a team meeting, you might say, “Let’s give a big round of applause to [Team Member] for their outstanding work!” But if they’re shy, you’d catch them privately and say, “I really appreciate what you’ve been doing.”

Tie recognition to goals: Here’s the icing on the cake – connect the recognition to their goals. Show them how their hard work ties into the team’s or company’s success. It’s like saying, “You’re not just improving for yourself, you’re making us all better!”

For example: If their goal was to cut down on errors and they’ve succeeded, you’d say, “Your dedication to reducing errors isn’t just helping you but also making our whole team shine.”

Step 7: Adjust and refine the plan

1:- Involve the employee in the process: Collaboration is your secret sauce here. Include the employee in discussions about plan adjustments. Ask for their input and listen to their ideas. They know their job best, and their insights can be invaluable.

Imagine: You and your team member sit down for a chat, and you ask, “How do you feel about the plan so far? Any suggestions on how we can tweak it to better suit your needs?”

2:- Regularly review and reflect: Set aside time for regular reviews of the PIP. Reflect on what’s been accomplished, what’s still pending, and what might need fine-tuning. It’s like taking stock of your progress.

Here’s a thought: Schedule monthly or bi-weekly reviews to discuss what’s working, what’s not, and what adjustments are necessary to stay on track.

3:- Document changes clearly: When you do make adjustments, document them clearly in the plan. This helps maintain transparency and keeps both you and the employee informed about the plan’s evolution.

For example, if you decide to change a target date or modify specific tasks, make sure it’s recorded in the plan. This way, everyone’s on the same page.

9 benefits you can get from a performance improvement plan

1. Give employees support and guidance

Think of a Performance Improvement Plan (PIP) as your trusty guide on this professional journey. It’s like having a coach cheering you on and showing you the best route to success.

With a PIP, you’ll get personalized advice on how to tackle challenges and boost your skills. It’s like having a roadmap to your goals, and you’ll never feel lost because you’ve got a plan tailored just for you.

2. Improved communication between employees and managers

Picture this: you and your manager sitting down for a chat that’s all about you—your progress, your goals, and anything you’re unsure about. That’s what a PIP does! It sets up regular check-ins to make sure you’re always on the same page.

No more guessing games or unanswered questions. It’s like having open lines of communication that keep you in the loop and make sure you’re always moving forward.

3. Identify and address performance problems

Hey, we all stumble sometimes, but a PIP turns those stumbles into opportunities. It’s like having a super-focused action plan to tackle those challenges head-on.

You’ll know exactly where you need to improve, and the steps to take to get there. It’s like having a superhero cape that helps you conquer obstacles and come out even stronger.

4. Increased employee motivation

Ever feel pumped when you hit a milestone? A PIP gives you those “I did it!” moments on a regular basis. It sets up goals and milestones that you can celebrate as you crush them.

Each win builds up your confidence and motivation—it’s like having a constant boost of energy to keep you going and growing.

5. Improved accountability

A PIP isn’t just about ticking boxes; it’s about owning your game. You’ve got those goals laid out, right? They’re like your roadmap.

With each milestone you hit, you show up for yourself and your team. It’s a journey of growth that keeps you in the driver’s seat, making sure you’re steering towards success.

6. Increased productivity

A PIP isn’t about squeezing every second out of your day—it’s about working smarter. Those steps in the plan? They’re like your smart shortcuts.

When you’re laser-focused on what needs to be done, you save time and kick tasks out of the park. It’s like having a turbo boost for your to-do list, giving you more room to shine.

7. Improved employee performance

A PIP is your personal growth coach. Those areas you’re working on? They’re your practice field. When you conquer them, you’re not just raising your game; you’re stepping up your entire team.

Think of it as leveling up in a video game—you’re becoming the skilled player who tackles challenges head-on and emerges victorious.

8. Reduced risk of termination

It isn’t a last-chance resort; it’s a proactive plan. Those checkpoints? They’re like safety nets. They’re there to catch you and guide you, even in bumpy times.

It’s about showing that you’re committed to growth and ready to tackle obstacles. So, think of it like insurance—not against failure, but against regrets.

9. Decreased employee turnover

It’s about making strides that matter. When you’re invested in your progress, you’re not just staying for a paycheck—you’re staying because you’re engaged, challenged, and valued. It’s like building a career home where you’re not just a guest; you’re part of the family.

Performance improvement plan examples with templates

Note: The names in the following PIP templates are hypothetical. Their resemblance to real people is completely coincidental.


Manager Name: Emily Johnson

Employee Name: Ethan Smith

Date: 11 August 2023

Reason for the plan: The reason for this Performance Improvement Plan (PIP) is to address specific job-related performance issues that have been identified in Ethan Smith’s role as an Email Marketing Executive. These issues include:

  • Low email open rates: You have consistently achieved below-average email open rates, which indicates a lack of effectiveness in crafting subject lines and content that engage our audience.
  • Poor click-through rates: You have struggled to generate satisfactory click-through rates on email campaigns, suggesting a need for improvement in call-to-action elements and content relevance.
  • Inconsistent A/B testing: You have not been consistently conducting A/B tests on email campaigns, missing the opportunity to optimize and improve our email marketing strategy.

Expectations after the plan:

Email open rates: Achieve an email open rate that is at least 10% higher than the current average for our industry within the next three months.

Click-through rates: Increase click-through rates by a minimum of 15% compared to
the current rates within the next three months.

Effective A/B testing: Consistently conduct A/B tests for all email campaigns and apply learnings to improve future campaigns.

Actions to improve:

Email marketing training: You will be enrolled in an email marketing training program, which includes modules on email copywriting, subject line optimization, and A/B testing techniques.

Mentorship: You will be paired with an experienced team member who will provide guidance and feedback on email marketing strategies.

Weekly progress meetings: We will conduct weekly meetings to review progress, discuss challenges, and provide additional support as needed.

Metrics: Progress will be measured using the following specific job-related metrics:

  1. Email open rate: Weekly tracking of email open rates compared to industry benchmarks.
  2. Click-through rate: Weekly tracking of click-through rates compared to industry benchmarks.
  3. A/B testing implementation: Regular reports on the completion and effectiveness of A/B tests for email campaigns.

Next Review: The next review of your progress will be conducted on 14 Sept 2023, three months from the date of this plan.

Consequences, if the PIP fails: If you fail to meet the expectations outlined in this PIP, the following consequences may be considered:

  • You may be reassigned to a different role within the company where their skills align better.
  • In the event that significant progress is not made, termination of employment may be considered as a last resort.

Poor quality of work

Manager name: Olivia Davis

Employee name: Liam Wilson

Date: 18 August 2023

Reason for the plan: The purpose of this Performance Improvement Plan (PIP) is to address the ongoing issue of poor quality work exhibited by Liam Wilson in their role as an SEO Executive. This issue is impacting our team’s overall effectiveness and the quality of our SEO campaigns, leading to a negative impact on our clients’ satisfaction and retention.

Expectations after the plan:

  1. Quality of work: You are expected to consistently produce high-quality work that meets or exceeds our established standards.
  2. Meeting deadlines: You must consistently meet project deadlines and adhere to project timelines.
  3. Effective communication: You should actively communicate with the team to ensure all tasks and objectives are understood and aligned.
  4. Improved technical skills: You are expected to enhance their technical SEO skills and stay updated with industry best practices.

Actions to improve:

  1. Training and development: You will be provided with access to relevant SEO training and resources to improve their technical skills.
  2. Mentorship: You will be paired with a senior team member to receive guidance and mentorship.
  3. Weekly check-ins: You will participate in weekly one-on-one check-in meetings to discuss progress and address any concerns.
  4. Clear guidelines: Clear and detailed guidelines for tasks and projects will be provided to you to ensure understanding and alignment.


Quality of work: The quality of your work will be evaluated through regular reviews, with the goal of consistently meeting or exceeding our quality standards.

  1. Meeting deadlines: You must meet project deadlines for the upcoming three projects assigned.
  2. Effective communication: Improved communication will be measured by tracking participation in team meetings and the frequency of updates provided.
  3. Technical skills: Progress in technical skills will be assessed through periodic assessments and tests.
  4. Next review: The first review will take place on 18 September. Subsequent reviews will be conducted every month until the PIP is successfully completed.

Consequences if the PIP fails:

If you fail to meet the outlined expectations and does not make sufficient progress as per this plan, further actions may be taken, including but not limited to:

  1. You may be reassigned to a different role within the company that better matches you skills and abilities.
  2. If significant improvement is not observed and the employee does not meet the agreed-upon performance standards, you may be terminated.

Poor work habits

Manager name: Eva Thompson

Employee name: Noah Anderson

Date: 17 August 2023

Reason for the plan: The reason for implementing this PIP is to address specific concerns related to poor work habits exhibited by Noah in their role as a Sales Executive. These concerns include:

  1. Lack of punctuality: You have consistently been late for meetings and have not adhered to the agreed-upon schedule.
  2. Disorganized workspace: Your workspace is often cluttered and disorganized, affecting your ability to manage tasks and client interactions efficiently.
  3. Inconsistent follow-up: There have been instances where you have failed to follow up with potential leads and existing clients in a timely and thorough manner.
  4. Low accountability: You have not fully owned your tasks, leading to missed opportunities and incomplete assignments.

Expectations after the plan:

  1. Punctuality: You should consistently attend meetings on time and adhere to the agreed-upon schedule.
  2. Workspace organization: You are expected to maintain a clean and organized workspace, which will contribute to your overall productivity.
  3. Follow-up: You should consistently and promptly follow up with leads and clients to ensure no opportunities are missed.
  4. Accountability: You must take full ownership of your tasks, meeting deadlines, and demonstrating responsibility for your role.

Actions to improve:

  1. Punctuality: You will set up a reminder system to ensure on-time attendance for all meetings. You will communicate in advance if they anticipate any scheduling conflicts.
  2. Workspace organization: You will declutter and organize your workspace according to company guidelines. Regular checks will be conducted to ensure workspace maintenance.
  3. Follow-up: You will establish a follow-up schedule for leads and clients, documenting each interaction. Weekly progress meetings will be held to review follow-up efforts.
  4. Accountability: You will create a task management system to track and complete assignments on time. Regular reporting on task completion will be required.


  1. Punctuality: Percentage of on-time attendance at meetings.
  2. Workspace organization: Regular inspections and adherence to workspace standards.
  3. Follow-up: Number of completed follow-up actions and feedback from clients.
  4. Accountability: Task completion rate and feedback from team members.

Next review: The next review of your progress will be conducted on 17 September approximately a month from the start of this plan.

Consequences, if the PIP fails: If you do not demonstrate significant improvement and meet the outlined expectations by the next review date, the following consequences will apply:

  1. Additional coaching and training as needed.
  2. A formal performance review, which may result in further disciplinary action, up to and including termination of employment if necessary.

Setting unrealistic expectations

Manager name: Maya Johnson

Employee name: Ava Mitchell

Date: 20 August 2023

Reason for the plan: The reason for this Performance Improvement Plan is to address specific job-related issues related to unrealistic expectations in your role as a Social Media Executive. Over the past few months, we have observed that your performance has not met the expected standards in terms of meeting project deadlines and achieving social media engagement targets.

Expectations after the plan:

  1. Realistic goal setting: You should be able to set realistic and achievable goals for social media campaigns, taking into account available resources, timelines, and the specific nature of our industry.
  2. Consistent engagement improvement: We expect to see a consistent improvement in the engagement metrics of the social media accounts you manage, including likes, shares, comments, and click-through rates.
  3. Meeting deadlines: You are expected to consistently meet project deadlines and submit work within the agreed-upon timeframes.
  4. Improved communication: Enhance communication with the team by providing regular progress updates, reporting obstacles promptly, and seeking assistance when needed.

Actions to improve:

  1. Goal-setting training: You will be provided with training on setting realistic goals for social media campaigns. This will include an in-depth review of our industry and audience expectations
  2. Time management training: We will offer time management training to help you plan and prioritize tasks effectively to meet deadlines.
  3. Performance metrics analysis: Regularly review and analyze social media engagement metrics to identify areas for improvement and implement data-driven strategies.
  4. Communication improvement: We will work on enhancing your communication skills, including regular status updates and proactive problem-solving.


  1. Realistic goal setting: Goals will be considered realistic if they are aligned with industry benchmarks and our available resources.
  2. Engagement improvement: We will track engagement metrics such as likes, shares, comments, and click-through rates on a monthly basis. Improvement will be measured against historical data.
  3. Meeting deadlines: Your ability to meet project deadlines will be assessed through project completion records.
  4. Communication improvement: Improvement in communication will be gauged through feedback from team members and your proactive approach to reporting progress and issues.

Next review: We will conduct a review of your progress on [Date], which is [X weeks/months] from the date of this PIP.

Consequences if the PIP fails: If the outlined actions and improvements are not achieved within the specified timeline, further consequences will be considered, which may include but are not limited to:

  1. Reassignment to a different role within the company.
  2. Additional training and mentoring.
  3. Termination of employment if performance does not meet the expected standards.
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Gaurav Sabharwal


Gaurav is the CEO of JOP (Joy of Performing), an OKR and high-performance enabling platform. With almost two decades of experience in building businesses, he knows what it takes to enable high performance within a team and engage them in the business. He supports organizations globally by becoming their growth partner and helping them build high-performing teams by tackling issues like lack of focus, unclear goals, unaligned teams, lack of funding, no continuous improvement framework, etc. He is a Certified OKR Coach and loves to share helpful resources and address common organizational challenges to help drive team performance. Read More

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