How to get off a Performance Improvement Plan

Let’s examine what a PIP is, and share some tips on how you can get off one.

What is a PIP?

A Performance Improvement Plan is a formal process that you go through with a company when they believe your work has not been good enough. You be asked to a meeting where you’ll discuss a number of points, which may include:
Exactly how you are failing in your role.Measurable targets that you need to reach.Offers of training or other development tools to help you achieve your targets.A timescale for improvement, and regular times for reviews.The next step if you don’t improve within the timescale.
Everything will be set in writing for you to agree.

So now what?

If you’ve been put on a PIP, you probably feel like the world is closing in on you, and you’re wondering what to do next. As I see it you have 2 options.

1 – Turn things around

I’m guessing you were performing well in your role at one point? You need to turn things around, and get back to that level of performance. You also need to show your manager that you’re trying your hardest to improve, leaving no stone unturned.
Firstly, get back to basics. It’s easy to let standards slip when you’re in a slump, but get the fundamentals right, and you can build on that. Raise your work rate. Get into work earlier. Make more calls. Go to more meetings.
Next, up your efficiency. Manage your time better. Go through the leads you are working on and requalify them. Don’t waste time on prospects that will never buy from you.
From there, bring it up another level. If you’re making calls but not making sales, examine why. Find out what techniques are working for other people in your team. Are they telling stories, or concentrating on features and benefits? What kinds of closing techniques are they using?
Make a conscious decision that you’re going to turn it around. If you can get the basics right, then identify what is going wrong and correct it, you can improve your performance. Not only that, you’ll have a base to build on for further success.

2 – Get another job

You might think this is the nuclear option, but if you’re on a PIP and can’t improve your performance, you’ll be looking for a new job sooner rather than later anyway.
If you’ve made the decision that it’s time to look elsewhere, then do it properly. Rewrite your CV and your LinkedIn profile, get in contact with the best recruiters in your industry, find out what job boards are advertising the best positions.
Brush up on your interview skills. Work out how you can display to an interviewer what you’re good at. Figure out what stories you can tell to convey your competencies.
Manage your stress
Whatever option you decide to take, you’re going to feel the pressure. However, if you are letting stress rule your life, you won’t be able to turn your performance around, because you won’t be able to take the balanced, detached view that sometimes you need in sales. You won’t come across well in job interviews either. Interviewers want to see someone who is calm and professional, not frayed around the edges.
Take time to manage your stress levels. Develop a positive attitude to your work. Don’t dwell on failures. Look at the PIP as an opportunity, to either improve your performance or find a role for which you’re more suited.
Try not to take the situation personally. Don’t burn any bridges with your current company. You never know when you might see them again.
Make sure you stay healthy. Take breaks so you don’t burn out. Take regular exercise. Drink water. You know the drill.

Real talk

We all go through slumps. If you’re a true sales leader, you can get yourself out of your hole by following my tips. On the other hand, sometimes it’s best to admit that it’s not working, and it’s time to go. Good luck, whatever you decide.
Have you ever been on a PIP? What did you do to turn the situation around? Do you have any advice for anyone who is on a PIP at the moment? Let us know in the comments.
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About the Author

James Ski works for Linkedin and advises companies on recruitment, employer branding and how to achieve scalable, predictable sales growth.
If you would like to be first to read his published posts focused on sales confidence sign up to his blog here
You can also follow him on Linkedin or on Twitter @jamesas
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