Montreal Crypto Chronicles: A Guide To Wealth Building – PIPs are controversial for a reason, but they don’t have to be the kiss of death. Here’s how to navigate one.

Few terms strike as much terror into the hearts of tech workers as “PIP,” otherwise known as a performance improvement plan.

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Montreal Crypto Chronicles: A Guide To Wealth Building

In theory, PIPs are meant to help the people placed on them get back on track and succeed in their jobs. In practice, they are often a box-checking mechanism for employers looking for legal protection before firing someone. According to lawyers, HR experts and tech workers who spoke to , PIPs are more often than not the kiss of death and – in the hands of the wrong manager – leave little room for employees to actually improve their performance and come out alive, until even if they make a sincere effort.

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Mark Carey is managing partner at Carey & Associates, an employment law firm in Connecticut. In his experience, only around 5% to 10% of PIPs lead to an employee staying on in the company.

Employers often rely on PIPs as a way to “cover their bases” and prevent liability in the event the employee sues, often on the advice of their legal counsel, according to Carey. In those cases, “these PIPs are not intended to be surviving; the employee is not going to win.” In his view, PIPs can be an effective device to “build the basis of a case” and are often used in court as evidence to support the argument that there are performance problems. O as a result, courts will often side with employers during litigation, he said.

Still, some experts consider PIPs to be an important but unpleasant reality in the world of work. And while it’s difficult, designing eleven is still possible, according to Allison Rutledge-Parisi, SVP of People at Justworks, an HR software company. The most important thing is to make the goals realistic and firm. Experts suggest relying on the acronym SMART: specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound.

The experts we spoke to agreed that it is unwise to terminate an employee without informing them of their problems and giving them a chance to improve, which is what PIP is for. The hard part is the last: giving that employee a real shot at improvement. For that matter, managers should not set goals that are “too aggressive” and unfair, according to Sheeva Ghassemi-Vanni, a partner at Fenwick & West LLP who advises companies on employment issues. On the flip side, the bar should not be set too low either, as that would set an unrealistic expectation of performance going forward.

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Emily, who asked to use a pseudonym because she signed a non-disclosure agreement, was put on PIP in late 2019 by her manager at a B2B SaaS company that went public in 2020.

Emily had been with the company for five years and had been promoted each year, starting as a specialist on the marketing team and eventually moving up to marketing director in the months leading up to the PIP. “I loved this company,” he said. Immediately before the PIP, the company was bought by another company. Emily’s boss was sacked after the merger, and she got her job afterwards, reporting to the Chief Medical Officer herself.

This CMO was under a lot of pressure from the new CEO “to do a ton of things quickly,” things that were only handled by Emily’s team. “She would put a lot of that pressure on me,” he said. Emily says she would get calls at 1 a.m. for small things, like making an edit to an ad. She says she started to push back, insisting on spending more time testing things before implementing them. It was then that she discovered that the Chief Medical Officer had started asking her direct reports to pull the trigger on things that Emily had opposed, going behind her back.

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Emily requested a 1:1 meeting with the Chief Medical Officer, writing in an email to her, “I want to have a great working relationship with you. I’ve been having a really hard time lately. Can we have a 1:1 to talk about the chain of command? How do you see me succeeding in this role? What can I do to get back on track?” review this email and others provided by Emily.

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“I wish I had a recording of [the meeting], because I remember being horrified,” Emily said. She said that during this meeting, the Chief Medical Officer told her that she was difficult to work with, that she needed to be more likeable and that even the CEO – that Emily had never worked direct with it – like it. After this meeting, Emily sent a letter to the head of HR voicing her concerns and asking for advice on how to deal with her deteriorating relationship with her manager. He asked that the correspondence be kept anonymous.

Emily met that HR manager soon after, and that meeting went even worse than her first meeting with her manager. She says the HR manager asked her, “Well, why don’t you leave?” Emily was shocked and “devastated,” because, at that point, “my work was my life.” She started crying in the glass-walled office, thinking she was about to be fired. She explained to the HR manager that she could not leave because the company had not paid the full amount of money promised to her through the terms of the buyout. The rest of these payments were more than six figures and were to be distributed in each of his paychecks over the next two years. The HR manager then explained that he could probably pay her the rest as a lump sum right away.

“I walked in trying to get help to improve my job and be happier here, and then left to be told I should leave” was upsetting and shocking, he said. After that meeting, he emailed the HR manager asking for a formal separation agreement to be sent so he could review it. In response, the HR manager disagreed with the terms Emily said had been set, and attached a written PIP in her reply. Emily’s manager, the Chief Medical Officer, copied in that email, which revealed the entire chain – including Emily’s initial email about her relationship with her manager, which she had asked to remain confidential. Suddenly, it was all out there for her boss to see.

The terms of Emily’s PIP were unusual and unrelated to performance: “You can’t lie, you can’t be emotional and you have to manage conflicts better with teammates.” Emily then met with her manager and the HR manager every morning for the 14-day short PIP course. Every morning, she says she would answer the questions, “Have you cried in any meetings? Have you been too emotional? Have you lied? And have you got on with your team?”

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PIPs can be the right performance management tool for some situations, “but it’s not always the right tool,” according to Ghassemi-Vanni.

Where they are not a good tool, in her opinion, is for behavioral issues: say, being rude or not getting along with a colleague. If a PIP says, “Don’t be a jerk,” that’s not a very objective or measurable goal. In those cases, Ghassemi-Vanni steers her clients toward a documented performance discussion instead, as a way to alert the employee to the issue and create a record.

On the morning of the last day of her PIP, Emily met with the HR manager. Emily asked her what her next steps would be, given that they didn’t seem to have run into any problems. “I’ve never been on better behavior” than during his PIP, he said. The HR manager responded vaguely, and a meeting was agreed the next day with her manager. That day, Emily agreed to sign an NDA and pay the rest of what she was owed, as well as receive a letter of recommendation from the Chief Medical Officer.

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In her opinion, Emily was put on the PIP so that if the company failed any of the measures, they could have an excuse not to pay her the money owed from the purchase. She wishes the situation had been handled differently, that HR had “acted a little more professionally” and helped facilitate a conversation between her and her manager. In her view, PIPs are “entirely designed to get people out.” As a manager himself, he sees that “if it is necessary to put someone on PIP, it is because there is no recovery for them.

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PIPs can frustrate employees when the terms are vague, subjective or impossible to measure. That was the case for Betsey Trudeau, a compliance specialist at Red Ventures between 2015 and 2020. She was placed on PIP at the end of 2020, when her manager said she was not meeting the workload required of her.

Trudeau’s main issue was that the goals of her manager

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