Terms to Know

Action plan

In this section of the plan, the supervisor and employee agree on how the goals will be accomplished. It should be noted where additional training is required, as should any agreements on the part of the manager or employee that directly relate to improvement of final product or process.

How the goal will be met is likely the most critical aspect for the success of a Performance Improvement Plan. Again, this is an area which should be agreed upon between the manager and the employee. If additional training is required, the training should be specified, as should the timetable in which it will be accomplished. Following training, another timetable should be established which will enable application of new skills learned. Other items that should be considered in the action section of the plan are identification of any special support which will be given by the manager and special efforts/activities or assistance suggested by the employee as necessary to reach the goal.

Aspects of performance

Duties include the primary job responsibilities that occur on a regular basis. Each duty should be defined in terms of technical and performance aspects.

Technical aspects are those by which we actually perform the task - typing, programming, dismantling and reconstructing a motor, etc. - these are generally "hands on" activities.

Performance aspects are those abstract qualities which enable us to accomplish goals--ability to learn new skills, ability to communicate, ability to be organized, ability to set priorities for work, etc. These are generally more subjective in nature.

Deficiency statement

These are statements which clearly define the problems that exist with the performance and/or behavior of the particular employee. Each deficiency should be identified in a separate statement and should be directly related. For example:

"Employee fails to complete assignments in a timely manner."

Such statements should be supported by appropriate documentation.

Goals and timetables

A Performance Improvement Plan is developed with a definite time frame in which the behavior/performance problems will be corrected. It may have interim timetables or steps built in that will enable employees to build new habits and will provide supervisors with guideposts against which to measure the progress of the employee. At the end of the time period established for reaching an ultimate goal, the employee should be able to reach a standard that "Meets Expectations". Successful application of this process requires two-way communication with full cooperation of both the manager and the employee.

In order for Performance Improvement Plans to be successful, it is important that timetables be flexible. Accomplishment of a short-range goal in less time than was allotted may indicate that the expectations for meeting the long-range goal can be reestablished. On the other hand, where efforts have been made to reach a short-range goal but have fallen short, there may be an indication of a need to reach agreement to allow for additional time.

Periodic review dates

An aspect of a successful Performance Improvement Plan is that both the manager and the employee must participate in monitoring goals. Initially, meetings to discuss progress must be regularly scheduled and care must be given to keeping with the schedule. Meetings which must be postponed should be rescheduled immediately. This demonstrates to the employee the amount of value that is being placed on the plan by the supervisor. Results of each meeting should be made available in writing and should include a recap of what was discussed at the meeting, especially modifications made in the Plan.


Is the duty a high priority, medium priority or low priority? Meeting all the goals of low priority duties may not be sufficient for an overall rating of "meets" or "exceeds expectations", while failing to meet one area that is rated "High" may be sufficient to require moving to progressive discipline.