So You Got a PIP….Your Life Isn’t Over

You just got put on a performance improvement plan (PIP) – oh no. I am sure there are a number of thoughts crossing your mind:  crap, what am I going to do, my manager is just singling me out, how did this happen, the expectations are just too much, and on, and on.

It’s understandable the impact receiving a PIP can do to your ego and your feelings, but before you let this document impact you too much, take a step back and give some thought to the situation.

Be Honest with Yourself

Receiving a PIP can definitely impact your ego and feelings; however, don’t let your ego get in the way of you taking the information you received and rocking it out. Once you become honest with yourself about your current performance, the sooner you can pickup the pieces and work towards a remedy.

If you find that your role no longer excites you and you could care less about the PIP you just received, this could be a situation where it is time to move on to something new.

Don’t Tell Others You Are on a PIP

I have never understood why people tell others they are on a PIP. At the end of the day, keep this information between you and your manager.

Set Out a Plan

Break down each of the areas that were addressed in the performance improvement plan. Evaluate what your manager identified as lacking, determine your current performance and expected performance, and establish a plan to meet expected performance.


An important aspect of improving your performance is to communicate with your manager. If you have difficulties with something that will assist you meeting a goal, inform your manager. Your difficulty could potentially be a barrier they did not consider or it could be a situation where your manager provides you some insight on how to overcome that barrier. Most managers want to see you succeed – take advantage of free advice!

Seek Out Advice

Seek others out that are doing well – get their advice on what is working for them and integrate some of that advice into your plan to get back on track.

Have Fun

It is human behavior for us to get in a rut for a little while after someone has addressed our performance. It’s natural and frankly if it didn’t impact you, I would be concerned that you did not care to improve the performance. Focusing on the negative won’t get you anywhere. Utilize your outlined plan to focus on getting ahead and have fun doing it!

Your Not a Bad Person

A performance improvement plan doesn’t mean you are a bad person or even a bad employee. It just means that focus has been lost with delivering expectations. In many instances it is not intentional for us to lose focus on our performance, but life happens!

So if you find yourself in a situation where you are issued a PIP, consider this as an opportunity to restart, get yourself back in the game, and hit a home run. Your life isn’t over just because you receive this document – it is only over if you allow it to be over.

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7 thoughts on “So You Got a PIP….Your Life Isn’t Over

  1. Hello Chris,

    Your advice regarding a PIP is really good, but what if your manager just doesn’t like you….period?
    I’m also in HR, and have seen it many times, where the manager is the problem, not the employee.
    How can you possibly live up to the PIP???

    Thank you!

    1. Hi Kim,

      Thank you for visiting the site and providing a good question.

      In situations where employees are put on a Performance Improvement Plan and either the manager doesn’t like the employee and that sparked the PIP or the employee’s performance is declining, but the manager does not like the employee, there are a couple of things that should occur.

      1. If the manager is driving the PIP solely because they do not like the employee, regardless if someone is an HR professional or a member of management, something has to be addressed with this situation. This is where managerial courage must come into place to address the manager’s behavior. As you and I both know, simply putting an employee on a PIP because someone does not like them is not fair or realistic for an employee to try to ever win. Therefore, addressing the manager’s behavior is key. If the organizational culture is allowing this and it is known the organization allows it, then I would say it probably isn’t a good place to stay anyways. However, if the organizational culture does not tolerate this behavior, then actions speak louder than words – it has to stop. If nothing is said or done, then it is just as good as saying the behavior is allowed.

      2. If the employee’s performance is truly in need of a PIP, but the manager is also using this as a means to exit the employee because they do not like them, it is imperative to coach the manager that personal feeling have to be put aside and facts will demonstrate whether or not the employee’s performance meets the expectations of the PIP. If the manager doesn’t heed the advice, then the organization has to address it just like above.

      3. For the employee, hopefully they are able to clear determine and understand if the manager does not like them. In these situations, an employee can explore several options

      – If the employee feels comfortable speaking with the manager without retaliation, then I would suggest having a conversation with the manager to determine how to mend the relationship or gain some understanding as to why they may not like the employee. If the employee does not feel comfortable speaking to the manager alone, then perhaps seek out HR or the manager’s superior.

      – If the situation is creating a situation where work is being hindered due to treatment from the manager, then it may be a situation that should be reported to HR or the Ethics Line to investigate.

      – The last potential option, is the employee has to determine how much they want to invest in the situation or just walk away. Let’s just say the employee was able to switch managers, would it change the situation either with their performance or wanting to stay with the organization? If the answer is no, then it may be time to change organizations. Or if it is a situation where a change in management is not going to occur or reporting the behavior is a lost cause, then it may be time to move to another organization where the employee can be valued and respected.

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