How to Write a Performance Improvement Plan

Many supervisors know that they need to improve an employee’s performance but are not sure how to write a performance improvement plan.

Like most things in life it generally is never as hard as you think it will be! As a quick example my daughter’s car needed new brakes and rotors but the repair shop wanted to charge over $400 to put them in. When I called to check on the price of the parts they were only a little over $100! That meant that the repair shop was going to make about $300 profit. Having never changed a set of brakes and rotors in my life I was able to do it in about three hours and discovered just how easy it was. I also saved $300. By the way the internet is great for learning how to do things.

Back to our challenge of improving an employee’s performance!

First we need to be honest with ourselves and realize that an employee’s poor performance generally doesn’t happen overnight. In most cases as supervisors we try to ignore it and hope it will get better on its own but rarely, if ever, does it. That means going forward, we will identify the poor performer much earlier; however, for the sake of this discussion we will address how to write a performance improvement plan for someone that has already passed the coaching stage. In other words their performance is continually not meeting the standards you have set.

The first step in how to write a performance improvement plan is establishing what exactly the standard is. Each job generally has a number of parts to it. As an example a bookkeeper has many functions to their job. What is the standard for the function of their job that is not being performed to standard?

Maybe it’s billing the clients monthly.

The second step in writing a performance plan is to specifically identify what specific part of an employee’s performance is falling short. Without this you can’t begin to improve it. As an example if you are managing a bookkeeper and they are falling behind on billing your clients. I guess we could tell them to get the billing done and done now and hope that works. The better solution is to dig down a little and find out what the root cause is before learning how to write a performance improvement plan.

One of the first questions I ask myself is whether it is performance or behavior that is causing the poor performance. Using our bookkeeper example again, is the bookkeeper spending too much time doing something personal like calling home or talking to other people in the office. Have they ever been able to do the job correctly in the past? Have they been trained properly? Once we determine that it is truly performance and not behavior we can move forward with writing the performance improvement plan.

The third step in how to write a performance improvement plan is to Identify how to improvement their performance to meet at least the minimum standard for their position. This could be a combination of things from additional training (classroom, online, one on one, or any other form) and/or daily/weekly/monthly coaching meetings, and insuring progress is being made.

The fourth step in how to write a performance improvement plan is follow up. The first three steps won’t accomplish a thing unless you follow up and follow up often.

We have created a very simple but effect form that walks you completely through the process effortlessly. The information is below on how to get more information on the form.

Thank you and may God bless you!

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