Writing the Performance Improvement Plan

Your first step is to meet with your Human Resources Business Partner. They will help guide you through the process of drafting your plan, and then later on, help you with presenting it to your employee and coaching them through the process.


Once you’ve had your meeting with your business partner to discuss the issue, and you’ve decided that a PIP is the way to go, it’s time to write the form.  Download the template above and get started!


Deciding on a Timeline

Most performance improvement plans last 90 days, with the expectation that the employee will show considerable improvement at 30 days, and sustain it at 60 and 90 days. The duration of the plan depends on the severity of the issue: if it is a very serious issue that has a major impact on your business, you might require improvement faster.


Enter the anticipated date of the initial meeting with your employee to go over the PIP, and make a note of the dates of the 30, 60, and 90 day follow ups.


Explaining the Issue: Tasks, Skills and Behaviors

This section is where you clearly articulate what needs to change in your employee’s performance to meet your expectations. The form allows you to input up to three discrete areas for improvement. If you have more than three, talk with your business partner about how best to proceed. It’s hard for an employee to meaningfully focus on more than three areas at once, and with the PIP, you want to set your employee up for success.


Name the task, skill or behavior that does not yet meet expectations. Then, write a brief paragraph that describes your employee’s current performance, and their expected performance, in this area. When writing this section, use descriptive language and tangible measures. Your employee can’t read your mind, so you need to explain to them what success “looks like”. How will you know if their performance has improved? Be extremely specific about what you’re looking for so that even someone with no knowledge of the situation could read your document, observe your employee, and tell you whether they were meeting expectations.


Some resources to help you:

  • Behavioral Anchors from HRWeb can help give you language for what “meeting expectations” looks like in several areas of performance

  • Student Affairs Behavioral Anchors may also help with division-specific language

  • Your employee’s job description may also contain language that you can pull directly to articulate what they are expected to accomplish in their role