What’s in

Any Human Resource () person would preach that PIP is a performance management tool designed to facilitate “constructive discussion” between a staff member and his or her supervisor and to “clarify the work performance to be improved”.  PIP typically consists of a summary of an employee’s ‘guilt’ and a list of tasks and milestones to rectify the ‘guilty behavior’ requiring at least weekly check-in with and manager to report progress.  Although a non-public process between employee, manager and , PIP is quite humiliating and a definite morale killer.

PIP or Quit? 

PIP is very ineffective in actually ‘improving performance’.  Employees (particularly the ones that are highly skilled and experienced) on PIP most likely would quit before the completion of PIP thus defeating the entire purpose (I personally would think twice retaining somebody who’s willing to go through PIP and stay).  Since PIP is an official and formal HR process (i.e. included in employee record), it is typically a last resort and rarely used.  In fact, most managers understand or should have the IQ to know that if you put an employee on PIP, be prepared for him or her to quit (leaving all the work to the manager or other team members, not to mention disrupting the team product delivery project plan).

New Love of PIP

Up until about five years ago, managers usually had favored the more informal approach such as a good long sit-down talk, followed up by more short discussions for feedback. Nevertheless, my observation is that in recent years, PIP seems to have become a popular tool to the new generation middle managers for the purpose of a “homogeneous team”.  That is, PIP has become an acceptable and common practice to get rid of the “” employee that is typically high-skilled and highly productive, thus at odds with a team of mostly mediocre members (including the manager) and hard to terminate based on pure work performance.

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