I'm sure you all watched or heard about the Super Bowl on
Sunday night: Despite the fact that his team was trailing by 25
points, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady led New England on the
greatest comeback in Super Bowl history. Brady's season began
with a four-game suspension for his involvement in the
"deflategate" scandal and ended as Super Bowl MVP.
It's a comeback within a comeback. Despite not knowing much
about sports, as a New Englander, I would be remiss if I let this
opportunity pass without drawing some sort of analogy to HR.
Because my law firm is based in Atlanta, I admit, I'm cowering
just a little.
As HR professionals, we are often called upon to assist managers
in addressing concerns with employees who appear to be falling
behind company expectations. How can we encourage employee
"comebacks" and assist supervisors by providing effective
tools to help employees to do so?
When verbal counseling and written disciplinary action have not been
successful at correcting performance-related deficiencies, a
performance improvement plan (PIP) is often used as a means to
correct performance and avoid termination. Developed and used properly, a PIP
can be an effective tool. Here are recommendations for developing
an effective PIP:
Outline, with specificity,
performance-related concerns, i.e., the reasons for the
PIP. This section should be very detailed (in terms of facts and
dates), include applicable requirements from the job description,
and summarize/reference previous performance-related
Establish specific quantifiable and
realistic goals for the PIP so that the employee can clearly
understand what is expected. The PIP should include consequences
for failing to meet the goals.
Provide a list of available tools.
For example, the employee can be provided with training that
targets any deficiencies, whether inside the organization or
through a third party. Alternatively (or additionally), a mentor
can be assigned to answer questions on an ongoing basis. The
employee should be given an opportunity to discuss what tools
he/she believes are necessary to meet the goals outlined in the
PIP. The tools may change as the employee progresses through the
PIP. The employee should be given an opportunity during feedback
meetings to discuss whether any additional tools are needed.
The PIP should include a schedule for
the feedback meetings, which should be frequent and meaningful. The
employee should be aware of how he/she is progressing through the
plan at all times. The meeting frequency may need to be adjusted
depending upon how the employee is progressing. The discussions
should be calm and free-flowing.
The PIP should include a duration.
The time period may need to be adjusted depending upon the
particular circumstances. For example, if some progress is made and
there is promise but the employee hasn't yet reached a
satisfactory level of performance, the time period may need to be
The PIP should be signed by the
Hopefully, the PIP will result in the improvement in overall
performance, even without the assistance of Lady Gaga falling from
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.
Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).