5 Steps If You Receive A Performance Improvement Plan From Your Employer

Mar 23 2022

Amanda DeMatteis: Hi, Josh!

Josh Goodbaum: Hi, Amanda. What are we talking about today?

DeMatteis: I thought we could talk about performance improvement plans – always something that’s scary to employees – and I thought that we could tell Connecticut employees some things to do to maybe make this process just a little easier or more palatable for them. What do you have for us?

Goodbaum: Yeah, this is hard, and I’m not going to sugarcoat that. Nobody wants to receive a performance improvement plan. And it’s generally not a good sign. But it doesn’t have to be a sign of imminent doom either. So here are my five steps if you receive a performance improvement plan from your employer.

Number one: Keep breathing. This is going to be okay. You’re not the first person to receive a performance improvement plan; you’re not going to be the last; and you are going to get through this one way or another.

Step number two, and this sometimes is not obvious: Read the performance improvement plan. If you don’t have a physical document, ask for one. You want this stuff in writing. And then evaluate it: Is this something you can do? Are these expectations fair? Are the recitations of your past performance accurate? If not, that could be a sign of something more nefarious, something more problematic.

Number three: Dedicate yourself to completing what’s in the plan if you possibly can. Come up with a strategy, and work with your manager to achieve that strategy. You want to be able to complete the plan if possible, and at a minimum, you want to be able to show that you did everything reasonable and in your control to try to complete it. Even if you think it’s unreasonable, even if you think it’s unfair, even if you think you’re being set up to fail, there’s no harm in trying.

Number four: Stay professional at all times. If the performance improvement plan is actually a way for your employer to try to manage you out of your job, to try to set you up to fail, to try to come up with an excuse to terminate your employment, don’t give them an excuse. Don’t respond by swearing at anybody, by yelling at anybody, or by treating anybody other than in a fully professional fashion. Even if you feel like you’re being goaded into it, your job is to remain as professional as you possibly can while also dedicating yourself to being the best employee you possibly can.

And step number five, and these don’t necessarily happen in order, but the fifth thing you should do is: Evaluate the broader context. Ask yourself if you are being treated not just unfairly, but potentially illegally. So ask, “What’s been happening recently? Do I have a new boss, and has that boss been treating me differently because of my age or my race or my sex? Have I just disclosed a disability to my employer? Have I just taken FMLA leave or told them about leave I’m planning to take in the future because of a seriously ill loved one? Have I just complained about something I think is unethical or illegal at work?” What’s changed that might show that this is not just your employer acting in good faith, trying to help you improve your performance, but rather your employer potentially acting illegally? And if you think there’s something illegal there, if you think you’re being subjected to discrimination or retaliation, or if you think you’re a whistleblower, that’s the time to pick up the phone and talk to a Connecticut employment lawyer.

So those are my five steps for employees who receive performance improvement plans.

DeMatteis: They’re great steps. Thank you so much for sharing them. We hope you enjoy this. See you next time.

Share this Post

amanda dematteis discussing performance improvement plan

About the Author

Garrison, Levin-Epstein, Fitzgerald & Pirrotti, P.C.

You deserve justice. We are here to fight for you.

Best Lawyers

Let Us Review Your Case

    We will respond to your message promptly. Although we will keep your message strictly confidential, please note that contacting us does not create an attorney-client relationship.

    Client Experiences

    During a very difficult employment situation, I was referred to Joe Garrison. Recognizing the volatile and time sensitive nature of my employment situation, Mr. Garrison met with me immediately (on the weekend no less). He listened to the details of my case, was able to think through possible creative solutions to offer the employer, and was responsive to my myriad of questions. He understood my concerns about litigation versus settlement, and he worked to find the best resolution possible. I am grateful to have had his support at a very difficult time. —J.C., New Haven, CT

    You will never meet a more knowledgeable and compassionate professional than Steve Fitzgerald. My employment situation was very complex, and Attorney Fitzgerald kept me focused while remaining extremely adept and “thinking on his feet.” Should the need present itself again, I would never seek anyone else’s counsel regarding employment issues. I cannot recommend him highly enough. — J.R., New Haven, CT

    Nina Pirrotti provided outstanding legal advice and was trustworthy, dependable, and responsive. From the start, I was confident that her knowledge and experience would obtain favorable results. On a more personal note, I enjoyed working with her and her staff and felt I was included in every part of the process. The dedication, concern, and interest in me as a client was greatly appreciated, and Nina has earned my highest recommendation. — J.H., Monroe, CT

    I recently found myself in need of a lawyer in handling a dispute with my former employer. I was fortunate to retain Josh Goodbaum as my legal counsel. His legal skills knowledge and professionalism shone through in every step of the process resulting in a very positive result. I highly recommend Josh if you find yourself in need of legal counsel. — S.R., Guilford, CT

    When I go to a lawyer for advice, I am usually anxious, particularly the first meeting. Amanda DeMatteis was clear in describing my options and immediately set me at ease. Realistic assessment is important, and Amanda was clear as to how to set up the case and the direction she felt we should go. I had total confidence in her abilities and knew I was being well represented against a large corporation. More importantly, we were successful! —N.M., Haddam, CT

    Proven Results & Personalized Attention When You Need It Most

    American Law Institute Super Lawyers American College of Trial Lawyers Best Lawyers The College of Labor and Employment Lawyers
    Back to Top
    (203) 815-1716