F&F Q&A: I want to do a performance improvement plan. How do I have that conversation?

In working with a local organization recently we had a bunch of questions come up around performance evaluations and performance improvement plans. In this situation the employee had never received a performance evaluation. So, I thought that I would review with you all the best practices for both:


Performance Evaluations

Conduct evaluations on a regular basis.

Have a standardized self-evaluation form.

Send this form to the employee and give them at least 2 weeks to complete it.

Once you receive the form, formulate your responses.

Request a raise from the appropriate party if needed.

Schedule the performance evaluation in a timely manner.

Ask the employee to review themselves

Provide constructive comments. Co-create goals. Mention areas of improvement.


Performance Improvement Plan

This is used when an employee has received feedback on performance and isn't improving.

Often an employee with a Performance Improvement Plan cannot receive a raise or promotion

Draft the Performance Improvement Plan

Include details of the dates and times of unacceptable behavior

Include specific requests regarding the behavior

Include training resources being provided

Get approval for the Performance Improvement Plan from the appropriate party if needed.


Performance Improvement Plan: The Conversation

1. Be rested, prepared, calm and collected before you have the conversation.

2. Explain what will happen in the conversation before you jump into the conversation. It could be something like, we are here to talk with you today about some areas of tension for the team and how we are going to resolve these issues. First, we'll talk about what has happened, then we'll talk about expectations on all sides, then we'll set up a follow up time to check in in a couple of weeks.

3. Be clear about the behaviors that are unacceptable: be specific about what happened, when it happened and why it cannot continue. It may help to talk about the effects that the employee's behaviors have on others.

4. Be clear about your requests related to changes in behavior: tell the employee exactly what changes are being requested, and when they are expected to make those changes by

5. Ask the employee what you can do to support them in making these changes. Is there any additional training, etc which could help them be more successful in their role/ could help facilitate communication/ etc?

6. The employee may take the conversation into areas that are not part of the issues at hand. This could include becoming angry, accusatory or blaming. Keep level headed, thank the employee for bringing up any additional issues and redirect the conversation to the performance improvement plan. You can always have everyone take a 5 minute break and then return to the conversation if needed. If the conversation gets totally derailed, have a plan for what you will do next.

7. Schedule the exact times when you will formally follow up with the employee and add them to all of your calendars.


If you're looking for more resources on performance evaluations and performance improvement, check out HR Building Block: Training & Mentorship.



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