A ‘performance improvement plan’ means your boss is preparing to fire you, right?

A ‘performance improvement plan’ means your boss is preparing to fire you, right?


For the last year, I’ve busted my backside for my company. I’ve never gotten a thank you. Instead, this morning I was hauled in to my supervisor’s office today and given a “performance improvement plan.” Apparently a few “powers that be” in my company think I have a “smart mouth” and need “coaching.” Yeah, right. They want me to have a personality lobotomy. Some reward for all my hard work.

I get the message. Keep my mouth shut and look for a new job. I know what these PIPs mean. They’re a way to document that an employee is on the way out and HR wants to grease the skids. So, what now?


When employers ask us to coach employees they’ve placed on a PIP, it often means the exact opposite. It means the employer is willing to invest in the employee by paying for hourly coaching.

Here’s what comes through loud and clear in your email. You’re cynical and ticked off. You’ve worked hard and feel unappreciated. You consider coaching the equivalent of electric shock treatment. It’s not. It won’t change your personality, just your behavior.

I can almost hear you saying, “There’s nothing wrong with how I behave. It’s all those vanilla people who can’t handle me.” Maybe, but that doesn’t mean you couldn’t use a tune-up — we all can. Coaching can give you skills and strategies for getting through to those higher-ups who need to hear what you have to say.

Meanwhile, your managers need their own PIP — one that reminds them to thank hard-working employees.

© Dr. Lynne Curry is author of ”Beating the Workplace Bully” and ”Solutions” as well as owner of the management/HR consulting/training firm The Growth Company Inc. Follow her on Twitter @lynnecury10 or at www.bullywhisperer.com.

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