Performance Improvement Plan, commonly referred to as PIP, is an acronym that is frequently used in the context of employee performance management.
A Performance Improvement Plan is a method of addressing a problem when an employee or team is not performing as well as they should be. The PIP is a documented process that outlines specific steps an employee needs to take to improve their performance in a particular area or overall. It’s a tool used by managers to help employees who are struggling to meet the requirements of their job or to address specific issues that need attention. In essence, a PIP is a structured approach to improve performance.
PIPs are effective methods for improving employee performance and preventing termination. By providing employees with clear expectations, support, and opportunities for improvement, employers can help their workforce succeed and ultimately achieve their goals.
A PIP can be a great tool for software engineering leads who want to improve an individual employee’s performance, or even the performance of an entire team.
Here are some reasons why you’d use a PIP in software engineering:
Poor quality work leads to poor quality products, which means unhappy users; so you need to be a perfectionist. If an employee is consistently producing work that is of poor quality, bug-riddled and late, a PIP can be used to address this issue. The PIP may outline specific quality standards that the employee must meet, as well as provide feedback and guidance on how to improve their work.
If an employee is consistently missing deadlines or is not producing enough work, a PIP can be used to address this issue. In this case, the PIP would outline specific productivity goals that the employee must meet, as well as provide guidance on how to manage their time more effectively.
Software engineering is all about working as a team. If an employee is not working well with others on the team, a PIP can be used to address this issue. Here, the PIP would detail specific teamwork goals that the employee must meet, as well as provide guidance on how to communicate more effectively and work collaboratively with others.
If an employee is lacking in certain technical skills required for their role, it can hold the whole team back. A PIP could be a great tool to address this issue. Given the case, a PIP would outline specific training or learning objectives that the employee must meet, as well as provide feedback and guidance on how to improve their technical skills.
Communication is the key to high-achieving software engineering teams. If an employee is struggling with communication skills, the team will suffer; so a PIP could be used to address this issue. In this situation, the PIP would contain specific communication goals that the employee must meet, as well as provide feedback and guidance on how to improve their communication skills, collaboratively with others.
The length of a performance improvement plan will vary depending on the specific performance issues and goals. However, a typical performance improvement plan will last anywhere from 30 to 90 days. This time-frame encourages a quick turnaround in behavior whilst ensuring that there is enough time for the employee to improve and return to regular work.
In software engineering, PIPs are generally created closer to the 30-day mark.
Creating an effective PIP requires careful planning and execution.
Follow these steps when writing your PIP to make it effective:
Identify the specific performance problem that needs to be addressed.
Establish clear and measurable goals that the employee needs to achieve.
Determine the resources that the employee will need to achieve the goals.
Create a plan that outlines the specific steps the employee needs to take to achieve the goals.
Set realistic timelines for achieving the goals.
Regularly monitor the employee’s progress with set KPIs and provide feedback.
Regularly review the plan to ensure that it’s working effectively.
The PIP should present all of these ideas as a document, to ensure that both the manager and the employee in question can read and understand everything included in the document.
As a manager or supervisor, it’s important to approach the PIP process with a positive and supportive attitude. Remember, the goal is not to punish or discipline employees but rather to help them overcome obstacles and achieve their goals. By taking a proactive approach to performance improvement, you can create a culture of excellence and help your organization thrive.
Here are some best practices you can use to support your employees on a PIP:
Communication is key when it comes to administering an effective PIP. It is important to communicate with the employee throughout the process. Regular check-ins should be scheduled to discuss progress and address any concerns. It is important to provide feedback that is specific, constructive, and actionable. This will help the employee understand what they need to do to improve their performance. Without communication, the PIP process can feel isolating, but by building an open communication channel, the PIP can actually be an opportunity to improve the rapport between you and your employee, but also makes sure the job gets done.
It’s easy for a PIP to be seen as punishment in the eyes of an employee. This can be a serious confidence killer, and decrease the motivation for the employee to get on the PIP and improve. When giving out a PIP, you should also pair it with some positive feedback; something work-related that will make the employee feel valued, and more likely to work hard at improving with the PIP.
Employees are more likely to be engaged and committed to their work when they feel that their opinions and ideas are heard and valued. Listening to your employees thoughts and ideas about their own performance can reveal the bigger picture of the employees work and identify any obstacles or challenges that may be hindering their performance. These details could be relevant enough that it could change the nature of the PIP all together.
The Personal Performance Improvement Plan Rate is calculated as the percentage of employees who receive a PIP within a given period of time, typically a year. To calculate the PIP rate, divide the number of employees who received a PIP by the total number of employees in the organization and multiply by 100.
If a company has 100 employees and 10 employees received a PIP within a year, the PIP rate would be calculated as follows: (10 / 100) x 100 = 10%
So the PIP rate for that company would be 10%
PIPs are often more common in larger, later stage companies with a significant workforce. It’s common for these companies to have 0.5-3% of their employees receive a PIP.
The Personal Performance Improvement Plan Rate is important because it provides insight into the effectiveness of a company’s performance improvement plan process. A low PIP rate may indicate that the company is not effectively managing employee performance, while a high PIP rate may indicate that the company is proactively identifying and addressing performance issues.
Tracking the PIP rate can also help companies identify trends and patterns in employee performance. For example, if a particular department or manager has a consistently high PIP rate, it may indicate a need for additional training or coaching in that area.
The personal improvement plan turnaround rate is the percentage of PIPs that are successfully completed within a specific timeframe. This means that if an organization creates 100 PIPs and 80 of them are successfully completed within the designated time frame, the PIP turnaround rate would be 80%.
Measuring PIP turnaround rates is important for a few main reasons.
If the PIP turnaround rate is low, it may indicate that the organization needs to improve its training and development programs to better support its employees.
Measuring PIP turnaround rates of orgs within the company can help management see if there are problems worth addressing in specific departments. For example, if software engineering has an exceptionally low PIP turnaround rate it’s a sign that the PIPs aren’t accommodative enough and don’t support employees to improve. Similarly if software engineering’s PIP turnaround rate is too high then it could be a sign that the PIPs aren’t challenging the employees enough to actually change their ways and improve.
If your employees are not providing good customer service, it can damage your reputation and lose customers. A PIP can help you set goals and objectives to improve customer service. Your employees can work with customers to identify their problems and provide solutions. They can also attend training sessions to improve their customer service skills.
If your employees are delivering low-quality work or missing deadlines, a PIP can help. You can set objectives to ensure that they meet all deadlines and produce error-free work. You can also collaborate with a senior team member to check for errors and improve quality.
If you have an employee in charge of growing a program but not seeing results, a PIP can help. You can set objectives to increase the number of subscribers and decrease the number of inactive users. The PIP can outline the employee to work on improving campaigns, better selling the benefits of the program, and implementing an improved retention strategy.
If an employee is exhibiting unprofessional behavior, a PIP can help. You can set objectives for the employee to arrive on time, treat others with respect, or attend all required meetings. You can also provide appropriate workplace behavior training.
Let’s have a look at John. John is a software engineer who has been with the company for two years. However, over the past few months, John’s performance has been below the expected standards. He has been missing deadlines, making mistakes, and his code quality has been poor. John’s manager has decided to take action, and this is his PIP:
1. Identify the Performance Issues
In John’s case, his performance issues are:
Poor code quality
2. Set Specific Goals
The next step is to set specific goals for John to achieve. An effective method of setting goals is to follow the SMART framework. The goals should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound.
John’s goals are to:
Decrease Cycle Time by two days within the next month
Decrease MTTR by 5 hours by conducting on-going integrated, exploratory
and functional testing
Increase quality of code by doing 2 more code reviews per week
3. Outline Required Resources
We will enroll John in a training course designed to improve his velocity and decrease the number of critical bugs he produces.
4. Explanation of the Plan
John will complete the training course in conjunction with his current work, but reduce his commitments to the team by 25% to ensure he has time to work on learning these new skills. Upon completion of the training program he will rejoin his team 100% and will have a review by the end of the next quarter where judgment will be made based on his recent performance to see whether he truly has improved or not.
5. Establishing the Timeline
John’s training course will take 2 months to complete, and the review will be taken 3 months later at the end of Q2.
During the time period post-course completion and pre-review, John will bi-weekly send his work metrics to his engineering lead so we have a real-time insight to his progress, and can give both positive and constructive feedback that will help John’s performance by the time of review.
The review that will take place will focus on John’s work metrics before the course, and what they look like in the 3-months after the course. Improvements that show positive signs will help John’s argument that he is still a valuable asset to the team.