PIP performance

What is the story with being asked to sign a PIP? Is it essentially just a sign you're going to be fired when, and not if?

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Comments (9)

Feb 12, 2019

Pretty much. It's a sign that it's time to find a new job ASAP.

Feb 12, 2019

Not sure if you're writing from inside or outside the US, but most states in the US are "at will" meaning your company can fire you whenever they like.

Unless you signed an employment agreement. If that's the case, then the PIP is to get you on track in whatever way that your company thinks you need to improve upon. The PIP in and of itself is not a concrete promise that you will be fired, but it points to something that your superiors want you to address sooner versus later.

Feb 12, 2019

Don't give the OP false hope. He's getting canned.

Feb 12, 2019

Even for at will employees, many employers still use PIPs as a way to preempt potential wrongful termination suits. It leaves a paper trail demonstrating performance issues and shows the employee was given an opportunity to remedy them, which makes it harder to claim the firing involved a protected status. Some places may use PIPs in good faith and actually give an employee a chance to improve, and some only use it as step 1 in the firing process. YMMV.

Feb 12, 2019

Refuse to sign it and see what happens

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Feb 12, 2019

This is the real question - if you should refuse to sign it. I don't see much upside to signing it, and I would absolutely not sign if you want to maintain the optionality of a wrongful termination suit. If refusing to sign leads to your termination, then I have to imagine you were already going to be fired no matter what. And it seems far fetched that you'll somehow improve your chances of keeping your job by signing the PIP. Maybe signing the PIP could buy you some extra time while you search for another job, but my guess is 99 out of 100 lawyers would advise against it as a rule.

Feb 12, 2019

Are you at the Big 4? If you got a PIP at the Big 4, you're fked. You can read a lot about PIPS on the accounting subreddit. It's just a way to document that you're a poor performer, and they will eventually can you. From what I remember, very few people are able to get off a PIP plan in the Big 4 and continue moving upwards in the company. I would recommend that you start job hunting now, as you don't have to disclose that you are under this plan.

Feb 12, 2019

It's a bad sign and generally speaking, you should definitely be looking elsewhere. Especially this time of year, when so many people are switching jobs and there's lots of shuffling going on.

More specifically: I used to work at a firm that did a lot of these. It was a growing firm that had promoted too many unqualified people to management (bc of the rapid growth) and eventually had to suffer all the messy consequences of this. Poor leadership, poor communication, poor hiring . . very chaotic environment with lots of distrust and misalignment.

Anyways, I had started to hear about certain people getting PIPs, and then I was even asked to get involved in a PIP process for a junior who I was co-managing. Through my various experiences, I learned that about 30% of PIPs "survived" to stay on the job.

Importantly, many of the 70% who eventually got canned were dead on arrival. In other words, the firm already wanted to fire them, and was only putting them through the PIP process as a way of reducing liability. That's the main reasons PIPs exist. It's not done out of kindness. It's done so that the employee signs a paper agreeing that he/she has been put on notice of certain weaknesses so that later on, when the firing happens, it's harder for the employee to sue for discrimination.

On a related note: that's also why severance exists. It's not bc firms want to be nice. It's because the firm wants you to take the severance in exchange for signing a paper saying you resigned; prevents you from suing later on.

OP, I would recommend you try and quickly find out if you're one of the PIPs who has a chance or one of the ones who doesn't. Ask your manager if there's a way you can check in early in the process (after 20 days, after 30 days, etc) to see if there's real progress on the things you've been asked to improve upon. Also, track down the most senior person you trust on a personal level, and tell them the situation (assuming you really trust them) in confidence and see how they would advise you. They're likely to know the real deal in terms of your chances.

Either way, Plan A is to leave.

Feb 12, 2019