An avoidable mistake with performance improvement plans

A mistake I see quite frequently with employees who have been placed on a performance improvement plan with their employer is their inability to see the big picture and where the plan is headed. This is often apparent coming towards the end of the process.

Often the plan will be passed successfully, and the employee will be deemed to have met the required standard and nothing further occurs.

Sometimes, however, the outcome is not a pass, it’s a failure. Or appears to be heading for a failure.

But at some point, towards the end of the process the employer suggests that an exit package might be discussed.

Here is where the mistake happens.

The employee is so caught up on the performance improvement plan, how it has been carried out, the imperfections in it, and possible failure that they spend their time and energy focusing on the unfairness involved rather than the potential outcomes.

It is not easy for the employee to stand back and look coolly and objectively at where they are and where they might end up. And the reaction is often a knee jerk response to the outcome of the process-that is, a fail-rather than the alternatives and how this can be avoided.

If the employer is suggesting, openly or obliquely, that there might be an exit package on the table it is worth considering, notwithstanding the employee’s frustration at either the conduct of the performance improvement plan or the outcome.

Learn more about employment law in Ireland in my book, Employment Law in Ireland.