There are many strategies that help employers inspire improvement in employees. You can offer regular employee reviews, encourage extra training, or have a performance improvement plan template in place. This type of plan is a much more action-focused process, with clear targets mapped out for review. Offering an action plan is an excellent step if you want to help a new or underperforming employee. Creating a template that you can turn to right away is a proactive way to develop a workplace that values improvement and encouragement.
What is a Performance Improvement Plan?
In plain language, a performance improvement plan is a written statement of what performance issues an employee has been having, what steps should be taken to improve the performance, and the timeline for completing each of these steps. Consider it a roadmap from Point A (poor performance) to Point Z (outstanding performance). Each letter of the alphabet in between is a target that needs to be hit within a specific time frame.
This can be very helpful for everyone on the team because it removes any doubt about the rate of improvement. The employee knows precisely what they should be doing and when, and the employer knows exactly how far along in the improvement process they are. A performance improvement plan template is simply a blank map where the employer can fill in the blanks for each part of the process.
Determine Your Goals for the Performance Improvement Plan Template
Before creating your template, you’ll need to know what you want to accomplish with an improvement plan. Here are three critical benefits to choosing an improvement plan over other options when an employee has poor performance:
- It saves you time. If you spend years going through multiple reviews, giving actionable suggestions, and gently pushing your employee with training modules, you may not get anywhere. Putting a performance improvement plan template into place right away removes this wasted time. Instead, there is a clear timeline for when improvement will be seen.
- It saves you money. Employers know that hiring and onboarding new employees is one of the most costly parts of doing business. Finding great employees takes up plenty of resources. Instead, investing the time in an employee you already have onboard can be faster and less expensive.
- It creates a better workplace culture. When a poorly performing employee begins to impact the rest of the team, it can create a culture of dissatisfaction. Having a plan to implement quickly assures all your employees that their time and energy are valued and that you are focused on helping everyone reach their fullest potential. This can create a culture of trust and engagement.
Once you know why you’re choosing to create an improvement plan internally, it’s also a good idea to consider the goals of the improvement plan in relation to the specific roles in your company. For example:
- Consider the goals you may have for your customer service team. Do you want underperforming employees in this department to increase customer retention or improve customer engagement?
- Do you want your sales team to increase the number of subscribers to your service by a specific percentage each month?
- Should your accounting department be reducing errors by a specific percentage each quarter?
Specific performance goals for each department of your company will help you get started building your improvement plan template.
How to Design a Performance Improvement Plan Template
Now that you have the goals, both for the workplace and for each department’s metrics, in mind, it’s time to start building the outline of your plan.
Start with the performance goals you created for each department of your company. Decide what the acceptable performance rate is for employees in those roles. Be sure to be very specific so that it’s easy to spot when an employee fails to meet those objectives. As you build this plan, it’s a good idea to ask your current top performers or trusted employees what they think acceptable performance rates are for their roles.
Next, determine what actions can help an employee grow from underperforming to meeting those objectives. For example, if the employee is in the sales department, and isn’t meeting their monthly sales quota, what actionable steps can be taken? Should they be paired up with an experienced mentor or given extra training? Make sure these steps have clear targets to hit, such as increasing sales by a certain percentage within the first quarter.
Create a schedule for reviewing the employee’s progress. Create this schedule in advance all the way to the end of the plan, when the employee should be reaching the desired objective.
Finally, consider what consequences or next steps should occur if the employee doesn’t meet the desired objective. It may be that more formal training is needed or that failure to complete this objective results in termination. It would be best if you decided for your team the most appropriate consequence after this formal process.
What Should Your Template Look Like?
To create a performance improvement plan template, create a document with blanks that you can quickly fill in when needed.
- Define where the employee is underperforming.
- Define the final objectives for the role.
- Define action steps to take the employee from where they are to that final objective.
- Define a schedule for reviewing each action step.
- Define the consequences for not achieving the objective.
Be sure to have an area for both yourself and the employee to sign the document, as well as a place for leaving comments at each review meeting.
When Should You Implement an Improvement Plan?
Anytime an employee is consistently underperforming, especially after reviews, it’s a great time to put your performance implement plan template into action. Remember that an improvement plan doesn’t mean that an employee is terrible. Instead, use this opportunity to encourage the employee to become a leader in their role and improve the overall workplace culture for the rest of the team.