Beautifully written by Atrium
- PIPs are never fun or easy.
- They take a HUGE mental toll and drain on the leader who has to deliver it.
- If you think about how much time you think about the PIP from beginning to end, it's usually hours.
- In some cases can affect your mood and sleep.
- Why PIPS are a good thing:
- It's about being kind, not being nice.
- Being nice means staying in a relationship too long. Most people I know have done that (except the high-school sweetheart relationships)
- Being kind means an opportunity for growth for everyone. It does not mean they are a bad SDR; it means they are not the right SDR for this organization. And in some cases, they may be weeding themselves out of sales, which is really good for everyone. Being kind means candor in a professional and human way
So how do you actually deliver the PIP?
1. Acknowledge the emotions you are having and that they will have. 1. Reminder, the truth will set you free, but it might sting for a minute. 2. Acknowledge we (leaders) are not perfect. 3. Acknowledge this is even harder for them. They are the ones who could be losing their jobs. 4. Your preparation 1. Documentation 2. Outline your desired conversation flow. Try to say as little as possible. Not from a legal perspective, simply from a human perspective. 3. Outline of what to do if the conversation derails 4. Role play - Find someone you can do this with. You want to hear yourself say things out loud which is different than what' sin our head 5. Lots of deep breaths 1. Mentally - That's the acknowledgment piece. 2. Physically - Yes, 3 in a row. 6. Acceptance 1. Mentally - It's ok not to be comfortable doing this. Let yourself know that. 2. Mentally - Remind yourself this is good for everyone, you, the company, and them. 3. Mentally - Rarely is the employee surprised by a PIP. 7. How to do it 1. Transparency is key 2. Set the time 1. It could be 1:1, which is about career development. 2. I recommend you inform them we are going to be discussing performance. 1. Ask them to bring their own performance metrics with them. 3. Optional to tell them it's about going on a PIP 1. If the meeting is not soon, then it's going to be a massive distraction for them and probably your team. 2. On the other hand, if you believe in a culture of transparency, then it is ok. 3. Conversation Flow 1. Introduce the topic 1. ____, I believe in being direct; based on your performance, we need to put you on a PIP, and I'd like to walk through this with you. (Let them respond) 2. Talk about the PIP 1. We need to discuss specific performance. How do you feel your performance has been?(Let them respond. Don't be surprised if they start to go off and get defensive. Also, don't be surprised if they clam up because they are in shock and freaking about or simply just want to get it over with) 2. Review Performance Requirements, Deadlines, Accountability, etc. Let them respond 3. Ask them to repeat back what they heard. Try to do this without being condescending or rude. Let them respond 4. Ask if they have any questions and respond accordingly.Let them respond 5. Ask how they feel about this?Let them respond 6. You can say, I know this is never an easy conversation. Let them know your goal is to have them keep their job. You want them to be successful. 7. Establish a meeting within 24 hours to see how they are doing.
How do you successfully implement a PIP?
Success in implementing a PIP can be the difference between a “comeback kid” story and a hasty termination. Here are some tips to help make the most of this process, address key issues, and hopefully turn a rep’s performance around.
1. Review & re-review your plans
You don’t want to get halfway into a PIP and realize that you’ve sent the rep down the wrong track, or asked them to work on the wrong things. So before you implement your PIP, make sure your expectations are reasonable and essential, that they align with what you expect from other employees, and that you’re not setting the bar too high.
Remember: a PIP is meant to get a rep back to baseline acceptable performance. You can work on long-term skills development later.
It’s also important to set a reasonable timeline. After all, they’re not going to be able to turn things around in just a week. You can look at how successful reps have fared when put on a PIP to help ensure the goals you set are realistic.
2. Don’t just “set it and forget it”
PIPs aren’t a passive exercise. You can’t just “set it and forget it.” If you do, you’re certainly setting the rep up for failure.
Instead, make sure that you’re continually monitoring the rep, checking in, and providing them with the tools they need to be successful. You may also need to make changes as the rep progresses in the plan, so you need to actively manage this “ebb and flow”.
Finally, when a rep makes a successful change, be sure to celebrate that. PIPs can be nerve wracking for a sales rep, so if you can provide some positive encouragement, they’ll be motivated to keep going.
3. Be clear & transparent
If your rep doesn’t know what they need to improve, how can you expect them to improve it?
Whether you’re dealing with hard metrics like quota attainment, or softer skills like conversation quality, you need to set clear clarifications. Show the rep exactly where they’re falling short and what they need to do to improve.
On top of that, you should set clear standards so they can track their progress throughout the plan. As we said earlier, if a rep can track their progress, then it’ll encourage them to keep going. On the other hand, if they’re struggling with the plan, you don’t want them to have a false sense of security!
4. Work together as a team
While reps are responsible for their own performance improvement, they can’t do it on their own.
Reps often struggle because they suffer from unconscious incompetence: they don’t know why they suck. As the experienced manager, your job is to help reps become aware of why they suck. Then, they’re responsible for fixing the issue.
If you don’t do your part, they can’t do theirs.
5. Have a clear off-ramp
No rep should be on a PIP indefinitely. Make sure you have a clear definition of what needs to happen when a rep completes the plan.
If a rep fixed their problems, then you can “readmit them to the fold,” as it were. Make sure, however, that you continue monitoring them to ensure they don’t fall back on their old ways. And, of course, you need to work with them on a continual improvement plan to close additional skill gaps.
Then there’s the other side of the coin. If a rep didn’t fix their problems and showed no sign of improvement, then you need to close the PIP and let the rep go.
The hardest scenario is, unfortunately, the most common one: the rep improved in some areas, and not in others. In that case, you have a few options:
- You can let the rep go, because they technically didn’t hold up their end of the bargain
- You can implement the PIP again, this time focusing on the areas where they didn’t improve
- You can readmit them to the fold, but heavily prioritize those remaining skill gaps, and set clear standards that will cause them to return to a PIP