what to do when you’re put on a performance improvement plan

A reader writes:

Yesterday, I was put on a month-long performance improvement plan. I have made some mistakes, and let things fall through the cracks. I take responsibility for them, and the plan is mostly centered on proving I can be dependable. I agree that there are things I need to change and get better at, and I am willing to work really hard to prove that to my boss.

I’ve only had one other job after college, and it was in a TV newsroom. The skills I’m working on/learning are related to following through with each task before moving onto the next one, and getting my tasks done completely, even if I don’t get everything I need to done each day. In a newsroom, this isn’t possible. Getting everything done (even with a few mistakes) is more important than completing whole, finished, and correct tasks over a longer period of time.

Overall, I’m nervous, because I’ve never been in this situation before. I know what my expectations are for the plan, but I really don’t know what else to do. Should I start looking for another job, in case I don’t improve enough in the next month? Should I focus all of my attention on getting better, and start a job search only if it doesn’t work out? I really think I can improve, but again, I’ve never been here before, and am scared about not being in control of the situation. I don’t want to leave my job, both because I’ve only been there since October, and because I want to prove I can do it, move through issues, and really take control and ownership of my assignments.

I answer this question over at Inc. today, where I’m revisiting letters that have been buried in the archives here from years ago (and sometimes updating/expanding my answers to them). You can read it here.

{ 71 comments… read them below }

  1. Ms. Minn*

    One thing I’ve learned from personal experience: sometimes PIPs are written so vaguely or impossibly that there is no quantifiable way to meet its expectations – and this is done deliberately so the company can indeed get rid of you at the end. I had been asking for specific things to improve upon for months during weekly statuses and was told I needed to figure that out myself(???). My manager and I did not get along and she made it clear from the beginning that she did not like me. No matter what I did to try to improve, it was met with “that’s not good enough” and was not so subtly encouraged to leave the company.
    I luckily saw the signs well before the PIP and job searched. The week before I gave my notice, I was called into a meeting and given the PIP. I stayed quiet, said no I didn’t have any questions, and signed it – and my manager praised me for finally showing improvement during that meeting!! I gave my notice the next week and was so incredibly happy to do so! And 6 months later, my former manager’s job was eliminated and was out of work for over a year. Karma is alive and well!
    Yes, start looking for a job now. Even if you make it through the PIP, you will still be informally judged against it for a long time, so any mistakes you make after may get you on a PIP again.

    1. Stranger than fiction*

      My BF’s former employer tried to pull that on him – a pip with nothing measurable. But he pushed back with HR and asked that be changed, otherwise it was impossible. So the boss changed one thing to: must respond to all email inquiries within 7 minutes (24/7). This boss was just terrible and caused my bf so much stress, it was making him sick, so he just resigned the following day.

      1. Sparrow*

        within 7 minutes?! There are very few jobs where that wouldn’t be a completely absurd request. I’m kind of surprised HR was cool with that.

    2. KH*

      This is bad management. A PIP should be defined and measurable. Anyone who cannot write one is not being a true professional. An employee faced with one should challenge this but they are not exactly in a position of power and, consumed with worry about their job, are unlikely to do so.

  2. Spreadsheets and Books*

    Spot on advice, but the bit at the end about providing context really resonated with me.

    I’m sixish months in at a new job and initially received little in the way of feedback or real, regimented training. Frustrating, but not the end of the world. I’m not the kind of person to ask a ton of questions when completing work tasks, especially in training; I prefer to absorb information, try it on my own, and then follow up if I miss a step or ultimately need clarification. However, I learned at a team building seminar that my coworkers often interpreted my lack of questions as a lack of understanding, and routinely assigned me work they weren’t sure I could handle. I was pretty embarrassed, but used the opportunity to provide a little more clarity into who I am, how I learn, and my prior experience. A little communication led to a much better scenario for everyone; my training is more hands-on and thus more effective, my coworkers know more about me and how I learn, and I’m getting better at speaking up, participating in group meetings, and asking questions.

    Your managers aren’t mind readers. It may or may not be too late in this instance, but more information in these situations can be a good thing.

  3. Sura*

    Asking for a friend (no, really):
    She was put on a PIP and actually given quantifiable, if different to reach, goals. She had three weeks to achieve them. She did achieve them, miraculously. But even though she met all the goals outlined in the PIP, they fired her, saying she wasn’t a good fit.
    What gives? I understand a PIP being a CYA move, but typically people don’t meet the goals of a PIP. Has anyone else ever heard of this situation?

    1. fposte*

      Yup. Sometimes managers realize they wanted more than they asked for in the PIP; sometimes it is really a way of saying “Start job hunting.” I don’t like the use, but at least it gives people some warning.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        This is what felt wrong about mine–it only had two things on it. First, stop being crabby (okay, I owned that one), and second, become proficient in Excel. The latter had never been discussed before that moment. When I asked what sort of tasks this direction referenced, I got nothing, so to cover myself, I had to disclose my LD and I did NOT want to. Nor did I get any information later, when they threw basic Excel tutorials at me, which I completed. I had no idea what skills she wanted, so I couldn’t suggest any alternatives or accommodations. Finally, Boss sat down with me and we went over a rudimentary spreadsheet she had, but she hadn’t even really delineated the task. When I had legit questions about stuff, it was “needing handholding.”

        I wish she’d brought that up before the PIP. If she had, I could have started looking sooner than I did (about four months before I was fired). I just spent those last months confused. In hindsight, I should have started looking at the beginning of the year, when OldBoss retired and the communication blackout began.

        Now I’m also suspicious of really nice, really friendly bosses.

    2. Karen D*

      I suspect it’s actually pretty common; as Alison says: “In practice, by the time you’re on one, it’s often because things aren’t working out and aren’t likely to.” Sometimes they set the goals unreasonably high just because of that; it’s more of a courtesy for someone to set their affairs in order, so to speak.

    3. AnonAcademic*

      Yeah, it happened to me! I was given one week to fully catch up some tasks, and did it ahead of schedule and was told on a Monday I was “doing much better.” Got canned that Friday. It turned out my manager was under scrutiny for some uncompleted projects that were the responsibility of the person I replaced, and she told her bosses the blame lied with me as a way to cover herself. I think she figured I’d not meet the aims of the PIP and that would be clear reason to fire/blame me, but when that didn’t work she lied or exaggerated about my role in the projects, and it worked because her bosses trusted her word over mine.

    4. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      It’s common, but employers should be clear about explaining that it can happen. Often the PIP is the last step in a required process, but it doesn’t change the underlying fact that your employment is at-will.

  4. Karen D*

    I know this is an older letter and we’re not likely to hear any followup from OP, but I’d be interested to know how this one shook out. The shift s/he describes is a very real one, from “good enough, what’s next?” to “no excuse for slapdash work.” And I’ve seen lots of people in my industry stumble when they try to make that exact transition.

    Just on the info presented here, this sounds like one of the “good” PIPs where there actually is a plan with reachable goals. But I’d love to know whether it worked.

  5. mamabear*

    As someone with a background in journalism, I am really confused by this statement:
    Getting everything done (even with a few mistakes) is more important than completing whole, finished, and correct tasks over a longer period of time.

    I … don’t think that’s true at all. Yes, you’re under pressure to produce quickly, but let mistakes slip through, and you have a credibility and dependability issue, which is exactly why you’re on the PIP.

    I don’t want to be overly harsh, but are you sure this is the field for you? If you’re struggling with the quick-pace newsroom work, maybe it’s time to look at in-house communications positions where you *may* be afforded more time to be thorough. (But, to be clear, excellence and accuracy is still critical.)

    1. fposte*

      I don’t think the OP was struggling with the quick-paced newsroom work; I think she took the lessons about accuracy level to a different job and found they didn’t work there. It’s possible that the newsroom she learned in was more slapdash than usual, but I think it’s true that there are different priorities for work turned around in 8 hours than for work turned around in 30 days.

    2. Karen D*

      I’ve worked in print and broadcast, and I will say the culture of “get it, then get it right if you have time” is more prevalent in broadcast. I’m not talking about major errors like getting a murder suspect’s name wrong, but maybe mangling the name of the courthouse you’re standing in front of, or identifying a red-tailed hawk as a red-shouldered hawk. That kind of thing gets shrugged off, particularly at an understaffed local station, whereas at a newspaper there would probably be a printed correction and a discussion of how the mistake got into the paper.

      I would guess that the OP went from broadcast news to a job in community information or public relations. Friends who have made this leap say it’s a significant culture shift, even from print, because they have to be so cognizant, not only of the accuracy of the information they are putting out but the tone and “spin” of the release.

      1. paul*

        Karen: Your hawk example…good lord that brings back some (bad) memories of a few years ago when a local station up in (if memory serves) Wisconsin was sending out stories of an anaconda spotted in a local lake…when anyone that knew snakes could tell it was a damn bull snake from the photos (harmless native colubrid).

        1. Karen D*

          LOL that bird example was drawn from real (newspaper) life, and the “discussion” of how the mistake got into the paper included an editor brandishing the Audubon Field Guide to North American Birds under the offending writer’s nose and saying “See this? It’s in the newsroom for a reason! Use it next time!”

          That same editor went into orbit when he had to stop a picture of a scarlet king from being used in a story about a coral-snake bite. He actually yelled the “red-touch-yellow” rhyme across the room!

    3. paul*

      I see mistakes of facts in news stories about pretty much any field I’m conversant in (watching mass media talk about technology hurts my head). So I’m inclined to think she’s right about not catching all mistakes.

    4. Jaydee*

      I don’t think she’s saying she struggled with newsroom work. That was her previous job, and she was referencing it for how the expectations there (getting everything done even with a few mistakes) were different from the expectations at her current job (completing whole, finished, and correct tasks over a longer period of time). I agree that letting mistakes slip through could lead to problems depending on the nature of the mistakes, but that probably depends on the nature of the mistakes (factual errors versus misspellings, for example) and the environment (deadline pressure versus pressure for thoroughness).

    5. Pommette*

      It could be that while objective factual errors would not be accepted in either environment, the degree of polish/completion/thoroughness/proofing expected in each workplace is different.

      Maybe the OP was in charge of preparing briefs for someone else in their station. Those documents are time-sensitive, but they aren’t seen by the public. Occasional typos and syntax screw-ups might be accepted in that context. Similarly, a superficial outline of a given issue might be preferable to one that is more extensive, better-informed, and sent out an hour late.

      I’m struggling with the exact opposite of the OP’s problem: moving from a workplace where things aren’t shared until they have been edited multiple times, and thoroughly thought through, to a workplace where we are expected to produce and share a lot of work in relatively little time. Every workplace has different standards for discriminating between what matters and what doesn’t. Learning what those standards are can be difficult.

    6. Zombii*

      An irony appears: someone with a background in journalism who is advocating for fact-checking has misread the letter, reversed the problem scenario, and given incorrect advice to the LW based on that misreading.

  6. A.Nonymou.S.*

    I was on a PIP last year. It was written with complete, clear instructions, every one of which I took to heart and began practicing every day.

    If yours isn’t written that way, I imagine it’s one where they’re not giving you a clear route to success – which means they don’t want you to have one. Clear instructions – addressing exactly what went wrong in the past, and showing the ways in the future to avoid that fate – mean they are giving you the chance to do better. Vague instructions mean this is a formality and you might want to consider devoting time to the job search.

    Good luck!

  7. Sharon*

    Wouldn’t it be nice if we could put a manager on a PIP? Or even coworkers? I’m tired of having to change companies just to get away from a bad manager or bad coworkers that the managers are, for unknown reasons, reluctant to address.

    1. Camellia*

      Or, at a minimum, havegthe option to give a 360 evaluation that, as a bonus, would be truly anonymous. At CurrentJob, 360s are only initiated if a person is up for, or wants to apply for, a promotion. Even then they get to choose the people who get to do the 360.

      1. Oh yes indeed*

        I suggested a 360 for my boss, and their boss cherry-picked the people who were asked. So they stayed, and I left – for a promotion, more pay AND a better boss! Everybody wins! Except for the minions still working for the old org…

      2. Amy*

        We have to include an evaluation of our manager in the middle of our own self review. It’s fine with my manager because there are no real issues and wouldn’t hold anything I said against her. I can’t imagine being able to be honest with some of the other people I’ve worked for or some of the other managers here.

    2. Tempest*

      So much this for coworkers. Job searching now for this exact reason and it’s terrible to leave a job you mostly love because you have a slack coworker who no one wants to take ownership of dealing with. I feel for you. :(

    3. Actually no, I don't _have_ to stay and deal with this*

      You totally can put your boss on a PIP, it’s just not that formal. If I say “I’m unhappy because X is affecting my work negatively” or “Y is making comments that I think make the work environment hostile” in a one on one, and my manager says they’re going to do something to resolve the situation and nothing effective happens, the resulting job search is their PIP – if they don’t fix it by the time I get an offer, I’m gone.

  8. AndersonDarling*

    I’ve seen people come back from a PIP and succeed. Good companies will go through a PIP process to get their point across, and they really do hope that you improve. I think you can tell by the time frame of the PIP. If they are giving you a few months to straighten up, then they are giving you time to improve. But if they are counting in weeks, then they actually want you gone and are just checking off the PIP box on the termination to-do list.

  9. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

    Can I say how much my heart goes out to someone in a situation like this?

    I could be the OP. I complete an enormous volume of work, but I am constitutionally built for crisis working. I fit my industry — which is on fire 3/4 of the time. If you need someone who can move 90% of a large mountain faster and better than anybody else? I’m your gal. If you have to have the last 10%? Well, see “I could be the OP”. I can only fight myself so much and thank god, I don’t have to.

    I wish everybody the best at finding *their* match to do their best work.

    1. Jessesgirl72*

      Good companies and hiring managers who need really high accuracy hire for that.

      When my husband transitioned out of aerospace into teapot automation, one of the reasons he was told he got the job is because he was coming from an industry where mistakes are a BIG DEAL. (His boss used to tease him that they’d send him up in a spacesuit to fix whatever was broken) The department he was hired into had been having some quality issues, and the manager was hoping to address them. And it’s worked, even if he’s had some uncomfortable meetings where he had to convince his team that no, what they were doing wasn’t “good enough” and that there actually are processes that can be put into place to catch more errors than they were catching.

      If OP’s (now former) Manager wanted quality over completion, she probably needs to stop hiring people from broadcast news- or make it really clear from Day One that the expectations are different there.

    2. ArtsNerd*

      Yep. I would never succeed in a work environment that required perfect work over a fast-turnaround ‘good enough’ piece. I struggle to even picture what that would look like for me.

      I’m so very very good at that 90%, but just had a conversation this week with my supervisor about that 10% and those errors that do slip through. She’s awesome, fortunately, and understands that I simply cannot proofread my own work with the tight deadlines we’re always up against and is helping me figure out a better way to get a “detail” person’s eye on my work before it gets out the door.

      1. Lily Rowan*

        No one can proofread their own work! If proofreading is needed, it should ALWAYS be done by someone reading the thing for the first time!

  10. RD*

    The thing is, even if you successfully navigate the PIP, you are likely to never truly be successful at that organization.

    If you apply for a promotion or a transfer to a new department, the PIP will pull up in your employee file. Getting through it can be framed positively in an interview, but why would they interview you if they see you’ve been on a PIP?

    Plus it will always be in the back of the minds of anyone who knows about it, so your reputation within the company will not recover.

    1. regina phalange*

      I have a coworker who was put on a PIP and then promoted. It was astonishing to me because she deserved the PIP but not the promotion. It was funny, she was pushing to be promoted so she got like a reverse PIP – if you do all these things we’ll promote you.

  11. ThatGirl*

    I wish I had known more about PIPs about 10 years ago. I worked in newspapers, and had screwed up a number of times – and I will grant you, some of them were fairly egregious (not libelous or anything, just made us look bad) and not what a person with my level of experience should have been doing. In my (poor) defense I was dealing with some personal stress very poorly.

    Anyway, the desk chief put me on a PIP and we identified things I needed to do better and a couple months later, I was told I had done a great job of turning things around, and my old duties were reinstated. I had a great review and got a decent raise.

    And I thought that was the end of it, not realizing the PIP was basically always going to be hanging over my head and I should’ve been looking for a new job the whole time … because the next time I made a mistake (which was not solely my fault and in fact the photo editor shared a large amount of blame) that was it, I was suspended for a day and fired the day after that.

  12. Teapot librarian*

    I put an employee on a PIP about a month ago. I thought seriously about what the problem I had identified was, what would make me feel better about my employee’s performance, and how to measure it. I ended up writing a detailed workflow, much more detailed than I thought should have been necessary, but was critical for accountability. After my employee got over the disappointment and dismay of being put on the PIP, he actually thanked me because the detailed workflow was a clear statement of my expectations. He’s done a great job, and I feel like now I can give him guidance to take his performance to the next level. So a PIP doesn’t have to be the end of the road.

    1. RD*

      I could see a person being successful in their current position after completing the PIP, but realistically, could they ever really move up in the organization with that on their record?

  13. Sabine the Very Mean*

    So, being on a PIP is not something that is common enough that it should be taken lightly? To expand, the program assistant in my department is often out of the office. “I need to go to Costco/haircut/get my dog’s medicine” or she is sick . She often says things to herself like, “Oh yeah that’s on my PIP!” and quite casually as if it is no big deal to be on a PIP. I’ve never heard of one before this blog and her PIP news. Shouldn’t she be more concerned?

    1. Can't Sit Still*

      Oh, she’s going to be shocked when she’s fired, isn’t she? And it’s nearly certain, too, judging by what you’re saying. I hope her behavior doesn’t impact your work too much in the meantime.

      I’ve had the misfortune to both work with someone that oblivious to what a PIP meant, and once had to clean up after someone who had finally been terminated at the end of the PIP. It was really bizarre how they just…didn’t get it. At all.

      I’ve heard stories about people still not understanding what’s happening as they are actually being fired, too. I think Alison had a column about how to fire someone to avoid just that situation.

    2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      Oh, that’s going to be sad for her, because it sounds like she’s going to get fired. A PIP is a big deal at most workplaces, and it’s essentially a warning that you’re going to be fired when it concludes if you don’t get your ish together (and even then, you may still be fired). But if your program assistant is this casual about her PIP, she probably has other issues that will contribute to her eventual firing.

    3. Zombii*

      It depends on your workplace. Some companies do not use PIPs correctly.

      At ExJob, roughly 1/3 of the employees were on a PIP at any given time. Some of the PIPs—very, very few of them—were detailed enough that they could be survived, but most of them were vague or had contradictory objectives, designed to make the employee so stressed/demotivated that they would quit. This is because upper management at ExJob was extremely proud about their low unemployment payout rate (despite the incredibly high turnover), and telling an employee they are close to being fired apparently can be used as a reason to qualify for unemployment if the who/when/how is specific enough. Supervisors were not allowed to tell people their job was at risk, but had to make a lot of scary sounds like “you’re not fitting in here,” “this isn’t something we can continue to tolerate,” etc, etc.

      ExJob preferred to mentally and emotionally abuse people into “quitting” instead of risk paying unemployment to people who really, really should have been laid off—nothing egregious, just bad fits. Upper management at ExJob were monsters.

  14. Maxwell Edison*

    I was put on a PIP back at ToxicJob, but I had already been planning to leave the company at the end of that year. I was put on the PIP in August but didn’t get the paperwork that actually spelled out the terms until October (which left me with only a couple weeks to get some of the tasks done). The whole thing felt very hinky. It didn’t help that several other people had been put on PIPs and let go even though they’d completed the PIPs to the letter (one person was so stressed by meeting the PIP that she ended up having to take medical leave, and soon after she got back from leave she was told “you were insubordinate again so you’re back on the PIP”). I ended up resigning just before the first PIP deadline, and my manager seemed only slightly less delighted than I was, leading me to believe that by resigning I’d spared her the onerous task of firing me.

    The big annoyance is that several months after I left, there were layoffs – I’d been hoping to get laid off as I would have gotten some sweet severance, but I figured I was better off leaving on my own terms.

    1. Annie Moose*

      Heh. At OldJob, I ended up on a PIP at a time when I knew layoffs would be coming (there was an upcoming merger and we all saw the writing on the wall). My goal literally was “survive long enough to get laid off and not fired”. And I made it! (and I’m now at a place that fits me much better, doing significantly more interesting and useful work–in retrospect, boredom and feeling like my work was pointless was a huge problem for me at my old job)

    2. TW*

      I was put on a PIP after my manager completely flubbed a project and did it as a CYA to her boss (who wouldn’t know the difference, very hands off). I wasn’t even involved in the project so needless to say I was blind sighted. I was young, second corporate job in my career, and it was a real eye opener about the professional world (and before I read this blog). I started looking for other jobs and even got a second job to pay down the credit card debt that was binding me to the job. Because of the PIP, my bonus was half the amount which added salt to the wound . BUT in the end, I was part of a large layoff but ended up better off because I got a six-month severance package and 100% bonus payout. It was a nice good bye from a job (err boss) I already wanted to leave.

      Meanwhile, my former manager is unemployed and unsuccessfully attempting to market her “consulting” services to her former employees and their companies. No thanks.

  15. Chaordic One*

    This doesn’t sound great, but at least you got put on a PIP, as opposed to just being fired outright. A PIP is something that’s a little better than just getting fired outright.

    Certainly, make every effort to meet the goals on the PIP, but also start a job search.

  16. Sunshine on a cloudy day*

    I know this is an old letter, but for anyone else facing a PIP I would definitely recommend looking very closely at how the PIP was written. If there are clearly defined goals that are reasonable within the time frame, then I think you have a chance of making it through. If the goals on the PIP are mostly subjective I would be VERY worried. That to me screams “we are looking for a way to get rid of you and this is how we’ll cover our behinds”. Look for the difference between: “respond to requests for x within 24 hours and with a positive attitude” rather than “treat co-workers professionally”. A single misunderstood instance could be considered “unprofessional” and bam – you did not complete your PIP.

    I also think its really not cool to fire someone if they have sucessfully completed their PIP, unless it is included upfront within the PIP that that may happen. The PIP should be directed at getting the employee to be where they need to be to KEEP their job, not just to be better than they currently are (which might not be good enough to remain in the role). If they complete the PIP, but are still let go then I’d say that was the manager’s fault for not properly aligning the PIP to the level the employee needed to actually be at. If that happened to me I’d be pretty bitter and feel very mislead. I’d be way more likely to assign a large portion of the blame to my manager for not communicating their goals (which is essentially what happened) rather than acknowleding my shortcomings in that case.

  17. Bob*

    In my experience, the PIP is a way for a passive-aggressive, bad manager to raise issues they never brought up to the employee before as a way to cover their butt and appear to have “done something.”

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Noooo! Certainly there are bad managers who use them that way, but PIPs are truly supposed to be a last-ditch attempt to see if the employee can improve to the level needed to remain in the job. The idea is that the manager lays out very clear expectations so that there’s no miscommunication about what needs to change, and so that the employee understands the seriousness of the situation and thus isn’t blindsided if they get fired at the end of the process. When they’re used as they’re intended, they actually can be really helpful — they force the manager to get really clear about what it will take for the person to meet expectations (if they haven’t been already) and they get everyone on the same page about the timeline for improvement, how the person’s performance will be evaluated, and what will happen at the end of the process. Those are good things. It’s far better to have clarity about those things than to be surprised with a firing one day and to feel that you didn’t get a fair chance to hear where you were falling short and some time to improve.

      Of course, not all managers use PIPs that way. Some of them use them as a cover-your-ass measure. But that’s not universal.

  18. Andrew*

    I should have realized I may have been put on a PIP when I had to list “goals” I had to achieve by a certain time period despite still getting a performance bonus check a few months earlier. The job required me to proof read and edit my own work, whereas my previous position had a dedicated editing team to ensure quality of the material produced. This was something I had a tough time adjusting to. I still got a month’s severance despite being there only for less than 1.5 years and wasn’t technically fired according to them. Who knows what the employee record of me actually states…

    It was odd, but something was going on with the department I was at b/c a week later, another teammate was let go, and then the next month, the department lead (who hired me initially) and two others were also let go. I believe only three people are left and I have not talked to anyone else at that company since to know what went on.

  19. CU*

    I’m beginning to think that my company does PIPs differently than most. We have quality and quantity goals and we’re rated based on the team average. Anyone who is below average (in either category) twice in a six-month period gets put on a PIP. Since a lot of what affects our quantity is out of our hands, PIPs are very common, and it is possible to get promoted after one. (I was.) It’s also not uncommon for someone to be a top performer one month, and below average the next.

    1. Zombii*

      Same at ExJob. Call center. Company decides whether call time or customer service is priority for the month, usually after the month has ended, and performance is decided retroactively. First or second tier = you get a bonus. Third tier = warning. Forth tier two months in a row = PIP. Oh, and being on a warning or PIP prevents you from bonusing for the next two months. It’s all very stupid.

  20. Not My Usual Name*

    My PIP was written clearly and so I went through and followed the requirements to the letter. At one of the monthly follow up sessions, I explained to my boss each of her points and what I had done to correct my faults, feeling slightly more confident about getting through.

    Her reaction? “Oh I’m surprised, you actually seem to be taking this seriously. Well it’s a start I suppose, but I am still getting complaints from people.”

    She did not elaborate on the complaints. Nor did I elaborate that I was taking it seriously since I wanted to keep being in paid employment!

  21. KH*

    I have put people on or have worked with people on PIPs several times over the last years. I’ve seen employees successfully get off PIP about 25% of the time. Of those, half end up either quitting on their own or getting fired within a year.

  22. neverlookback*

    Start looking for a new job, sorry. I’ve been there, unfortunately. Before an annual review a few years ago (after 12 years with my employer), I had just completed a major, year-long project in additional to my regular duties, and pulled it off without a hitch. It was only tangententially related to my area expertise and in fact “above my pay grade”, and required extensive self-study and preparation, but I made everything come together in the end. Naturally, I expected some praise or at least thanks. Instead, my new, toxic boss believed another individual who took credit for all my work on the project (apparently I had only “assisted”), and the boss also stated outright lies (e.g. was actually dubious the whole time about the need to X, but on the review claimed he had wanted/expected me to more of X, and so on). Then he presented me with a PIP. Obviously, the relationship was irreperable at this point. I was so livid and shocked that I was tempted “express myself” (think Jennifer Anniston’s character quitting Tschotcke’s in Office Space), but my wife brought me down and convinced me to bide my time and leave on my own terms. A couple months later everything had aligned to ramp up my side business to full time and I turned in my notice. To top it all off, my boss was livid that I quitting! Totally bizarre, he obviously wanted to get rid of me anyway. Well, working for myself I’ve quadrupled my income since so it all turned out for the best, though I can’t help thinking it would have been kinder to just dispense with the PIP nonsense and lay me off so I could move on.

    EPILOGUE: Later would I run into several other ex-employees, all high-powered, dedicated folks who had always been ranked among the company’s top performers, all of whom had quit expressly because of the Toxic Boss’ nonsense. I also found about Toxic Boss’ widely known nickname that had followed him even from his previous company. I won’t repeat it here, but suffice it to say that it strongly implied that he was a devious, self-serving person who could not be trusted. That put a lot things in context in hindsight.

  23. Been There...*

    I was put on a PIP at ToxicTechJob under a new manager. Before my new manager I was a shining star, up for a raise and promotion. Under my new manager, my workload was still unreasonably high, and only got worse. 12-13 hour days and cancelled vacations worse.

    After 2-1×1’s, and my performance review in one week where she said I was doing better and never addressed any issues, she put me on a PIP. It read ” Communication” and ” Job title 101″- that was it. Claiming we were there because I made a error with a vendor, I directly asked what the issue was. Response: ” You miss stepped” After several meetings with our HR Director, I went in asking my manager to outline clear objectives for the PIP, ie: What about my communication needs changing, and what metrics will I be gauged on. I was told that I needed to determine the metrics and that she didn’t anticipate a Q&A session in regards to my performance. I quit the next morning and they have now hired 3 people to fill my role.

  24. Technical Support*

    I am actually on a PIP right now… it’s not the first one I’ve been on here. After the previous one, I was told I had improved dramatically and that was the end of it. I got a raise shortly afterward. That was nearly a year ago.

    This one… I’m a little more worried about.

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