Typically companies have a PIP (Performance improvement plan) process. In the letter, it is supposed to help the candidate perform. But in spirit, unfortunately, that’s not the case.
For high performing companies and teams, it is paramount to clearly define what star performance means and on the other end, what the thresholds for non-performance are. It should be objective and data driven. One should be able to see his or her ranking. Once this spectrum is clear, it helps on multiple fronts.
Firstly, it brings in a high level of transparency and fairness which leads to low team politics. People then focus their efforts on their role and KRAs. Secondly, it creates an internal push and competitiveness to strive for the top percentile which should be rewarded frequently. In most startups these top performances are celebrated, who end up growing fast and enjoy the most sought out portfolios. They are the ones who keep getting more and more assignments.
But what happens to the ones who are in the bottom 25 percentile?
In many startups, since everybody is so busy, they don’t invest enough time to raise them up. The manager starts ignoring them, which leads to a negative spiral that results in demotivation, stagnation and eventually an exit. Departing these people is the easiest option but what is essential is to make them shine.
Typically companies have a PIP (Performance improvement plan) process. In the letter, it is supposed to help the candidate perform. But in spirit, unfortunately, that’s not the case. PIP is like a taboo, as he or she is looked at very differently. Why? Because there is a track record of PIPs finally getting exited.
Now think – if there are many PIP cases in the company who turned around and came in the top 25%. On top of that, if we over celebrate this big victory.
First thing it will do is to remove the fear of getting PIP, especially the ones who have the will to perform. They will trust the system and will take these situations as opportunities to perform with the team support.
And the ones who will come out of this tough phase, will be ‘Warriors’ for life. Because they will learn the art of fighting out any circumstance. And this skill will make them unstoppable.
And now these Wounded Warriors will give a tough fight to the old star performers, which will finally lead to real competition. The ring gets bigger. This will raise the performance bar of the team significantly. And to think, the culture you’d be building will be unmatchable.
How to make the PIP process work in your favour?
- Step 1: Invest in building a set of first few success stories of Wounded Warriors (especially the ones who have potential and intent). Assign stretched but achievable goals. Make them understand the seriousness of this phase – it has to be a wartime effort. Have genuine intent to help and invest required time.
- Step 2: Reward & Celebrate your Warriors openly in your town halls. Reward their Managers, and reprimand others (Every manager should have a KRA of how many PIPs have converted to Warriors).
- Step 3: Run 4 to 6 cycles of weeks/ months to get a sizeable pool of Warriors
- Step 4: Automatic ‘Culture of High Performance’
Do share your comments and share if you think this can help someone!