Performance Improvement Plan
Officially: A performance improvement plan (PIP), also known as a performance action plan, is a strategy companies gives to struggling employees with the opportunity to succeed while still holding them accountable for past performance. It is not always clear why an employee has poor performance.
Unofficially: A PIP is very often a precursor to an employee getting fired by creating a paper trail an an unreasonable task to complete.
Personally: I've not used to failure, I've been top of my school (valedictorian), top of my university and did well in science, and I thought I was generally doing fairly well at my company (a large tech company), so it was somewhat of a shock on July 28 2016 when I was told by my manager she was going to give me a PIP in 30 days. She put it in email correspondence the next day. I've never heard of a PIP I immediately went to my friend who asked "who I upset", because these are almost always geared towards failure. If you get a PIP, you get given a fairly impossible to complete task, with elevated stress about performance and work insecurity.
My friend been in the IT business a long time and she joked, have they moved you into a more remote office yet "and she sent me the video from Office Space", and actually they were planning that already. So I panicked, researched it a little and she looks like she's right.
I wanted to say that I'm a huge asset to the team - and actually I am, but I realized it's a waste of effort. The decision is set in stone, and talking to HR is a waste of the time I need to find a new job which is a better fit. My manager is actually a lovely woman, but within the huge tech companies they really do expect excellent, and "consistently meets expectations" at L4 is actually bad. I updated my resume to show that I do fantastic work - I work hard and I produce robust systems. Why I wasn't at a higher rating - I'm not entirely sure, but I'm choosing to believe that I'm just not a great fit for my team... honestly, I haven't felt happy in that team in years since my original manager left. A couple of others have quit or move teams, but I was silly enough to stay. I hacked up a little tool to show I produced 3x more code that the average developer on my group, that I did fantastic documentation, showed a random sample of "change lists" of mine (random samples of my work), and that I created great systems without our team. I also decided to reach out to some old colleagues for help - the ones I have interacted with before that have seen how brilliant I am when I get onto a project I'm excited about. Don't let implications that you are a poor performer get you down.
I've collected a few articles that might make you mad for a bit... like a victim. Read them, process them, and then quickly realize you can't win against your superiors... and if if you did, how awkward would it be for you to continue working there, knowing they wanted to replace you?
Articles about Performance Improvement Plans (PIP)
- Forbes - the truth about performance improvement plans - they say what the title implies - they are geared towards firing.
- The Dirty Little Secret of Performance Improvement Plans - which they say is "not only do they not work, but they are rarely about improving anyone's performance".
- quora - What does a PIP involve in a big tech company - some scary honest insights
- what it feels like to get fired from Google - friend sent me.
I'm not an expert of course, I created this article because the word PIP (performance improvement plan) was not even in my vocabulary, and I wanted to learn just enough quickly. These articles are written from employee perspectives, other articles will show you how to write a PIP if you want, and it sounds like in some rare situation they help... but mostly they are geared towards failure and making the employee feel stressed and undesirable.
From what I gather, they will tell you that you are not as fast or clever as other employees, without necessarily the acknowledgment that these same employees are weak in the places you are strong - that a good team should have diversity - and that maybe you were poorly resourced. If you are a poor performer, well maybe time has caught up with you - but if you know you are actually not a slacker, that you are brilliant, and resourceful - take it on the chin and put your efforts into hunting. The advice is to not challenge authority, because that is what often gets people into this mess in the first place.
PS: I'm assuming my employer will not find this... believe it or not I've written >300 articles here, and even more articles internally in my company - because I'm actually familiar with a tonne of our external technologies, and I thought I was building great karma! Maybe not.