Enhancing Employee Performance: Rethinking Progressive Discipline with Performance Improvement Plans

December 8, 2023

performance improvement plan

Progressive discipline has long been a standard approach to managing employee performance issues. However, in today’s dynamic workplace, its effectiveness often falls short when aiming to cultivate positive change and development among employees. This strategy supposedly targets to correct problems with employees, but the results often leave the relationship with the employee worse off. Whether it is a verbal warning or threat, punishment of this kind is typically doomed to fail. However, there are other approaches to take to help with improving employee performance. 

Performance Coaching: A Superior Approach to Progressive Discipline

The traditional method of progressive discipline tends to be punitive and may not address the root causes of underperformance. Rather than resorting to a disciplinary approach, adopting a performance coaching strategy can yield more constructive outcomes. A Performance Improvement Plan (PIP) stands out as a proactive tool under this approach. By delineating clear expectations and providing structured guidance, a PIP empowers employees to enhance their performance, fostering a more supportive and developmental work environment.

Anticipating Conversations Before Discipline

Before implementing any form of disciplinary action, employers must initiate constructive dialogues with struggling employees. This involves preparing for discussions centered around a Performance Improvement Plan rather than immediately resorting to punitive measures. By proactively engaging in conversations geared towards improvement, both parties can collaboratively identify areas for development and establish actionable steps within the framework of a PIP.

Unveiling the Root Causes: Asking Probing Questions

Understanding the underlying reasons behind an employee’s performance issues is pivotal. Instead of simply reacting to the symptoms, supervisors should ask probing questions aimed at identifying the core issues. Engaging in open-ended conversations can reveal valuable insights into challenges faced by employees, enabling the creation of more tailored Performance Improvement Plans that address specific needs and concerns.

Rethinking the Performance Improvement Plan to a Coaching Approach

Rather than adhering to a rigid employee performance improvement plan, there’s immense value in embracing a high-performance coaching approach. This shift moves away from a remedial focus on correcting shortcomings towards a proactive strategy aimed at unleashing an individual’s full potential. High-performance coaching emphasizes continual growth, skill enhancement, and personalized guidance, fostering an environment where employees are motivated to excel and are empowered to consistently deliver their best work. It’s a more dynamic and engaging method that not only addresses weaknesses but also cultivates strengths, promoting a culture of ongoing development and achievement.