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  • Mark Shaw

Why AHRI is wrong in how it promotes Performance Improvement Plans (PIPS).

The peak body representing Human Resource Practitioners in Australia (AHRI) advises on the AHRI-Assist section of its website that:


“Performance Improvement Plans (PIPs) are a management tool used to assist performance improvement of underperforming employees or those employees who have demonstrated unsatisfactory behaviour and conduct in the workplace.”


I agree that Performance Improvement Plans (PIPs) are a good management tool to use when the poor performance is due to a skill deficiency.


I disagree that they should be used when poor performance is due to unsatisfactory behaviour and/or conduct in the workplace.


The reason is simple. When poor performance is due to a skill deficiency, AHRI’s advice is sound when they recommend using a tool containing essential features such as a defined time frame, clear and realistic goals, training, regular meetings, reassessment of performance and strong documentation is sound. PIPS meet these criteria.


The problem is when a person is skilled and competent, and poor performance is due to unsatisfactory behaviour and/or conduct, a solution based on other essential features is required.


For the past 30 years I have successfully assisted many organisations and managers resolve unsatisfactory behaviour and conduct in the workplace by applying Proactive Re-Engagement Programs (PRPs). The essential features PRP use include, defining the business problem being caused by the unsatisfactory behaviour and conduct, identifying the evidence to support the problem, focusing on solving that problem, engaging the person in identifying a solution, insisting on instant behaviour change, and strongly documenting the difficult conversation. These are very different “essential features” when compared to the essential features for PIPS stated by AHRI’s.


In summary, successfully managing unsatisfactory behaviour and/or conduct does not need defined time frames, training, regular meetings, and reassessment of performance. Instead, it needs a business problem, evidence, one or two meetings, and instant behaviour change.


Yet AHRI does not seem to have grasped this difference and continues to provide what I consider to be inappropriate advice to HR professionals.


My results over the past 30 years include:

· Successfully re-engaging most people.

· Where termination has been unavoidable, a 100% success rate in defending the management action and decision.

· Saving up to 80% of the time, effort and cost when compared to using PIPs.


As the legislative framework for workplaces continues to focus on behaviour and conduct rather than skills and competencies; organisations, managers, and HR Practitioners need to apply the appropriate tools and processes to meet these contemporary challenges.


Contact me if you want more information on how to use PRPs to successfully manage unsatisfactory behaviour and conduct.

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