Judge the Results of All Your Efforts

Review the employees progress at the end of the PIP and plan for all the possible outcomes with HR.

At the conclusion of the PIP, you will likely have another meeting with HR and your employee to judge the results of their effort. The success criteria in the PIP will hopefully make it a pretty clear decision as to what happens next, but in those cases where an employee is still “on the fence,” your notes can help figure out if there’s a deeper, unrealized issue that’s causing the problem, if the employee just truly isn’t motivated, and so on.

In the “happy path” scenario, the employee has met the goals of the PIP. The PIP is then retired, the employee is back in good standing, and the whole ugly situation is behind us, the only record of which now lies in the vaults of HR’s records. Ideally, you gained some deeper connection with your employee, too, and you’ll have a much better relationship going forward, which will in turn make it easier for them to come to you when “something’s wrong,” before it becomes a performance problem.

In the “meh path” scenario, it’s not clear that the employee has made significant progress, but they’ve made some progress. This is in some ways the hardest of the three outcomes, because it doesn’t feel like you can end the PIP, but it doesn’t feel like they’ve failed, either. HR will likely have some policies and procedures here (many companies actively work to avoid an employee on an infinite PIP), but in many cases, it’s going to be the HR rep looking you in the eyes and saying, “What do you think?” Personally, I give an employee no more than two PIPs in a row—if they can’t fix the problem in 6 months, it’s either a problem they can’t fix or it’s a problem they don’t want to fix, and it’s never going to get fixed.

In the “sad path” scenario, it’s time to move on.

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