Q & A Archives

“HR says my PEP (Performance Enhancement Plan) is not a PIP. True?”

Published on July 16th, 2019 by Alan L. Sklover

Sklover Working Wisdom Caution

Question: Two weeks ago I received from my manager a document with the title “Performance Enhancement Plan.” It basically says that I am not performing satisfactorily (which is untrue), and unless I immediately improve drastically in vague ways (like “make me feel confident in you”) in 60 days, I could get terminated.

The last sentence of the Performance Enhancement Plan is this: “Failure to show immediate and sustained improvement while in this PEP may result in additional disciplinary action up to and including termination of employment.”

I used your Model Memo to “push back” and was invited to a meeting where I was told by HR and my Manager not to worry because what I received is not a PIP, but instead is intended to show that I am trying to be a better employee. It seems the situation is stable for now. Should I trust that?

Gretta W.
Queensland, Australia

Answer: Dear Gretta: For over 20 years I’ve been heavily involved in helping employees, worldwide, address Performance Warning and Performance Improvement Plans (“PIPs”). Take my word for it, PLEEEZE: A PEP is a PIP is a PAP is a POP, so long as it says, one way or another, what your “PEP” says. Do not let trust their unwritten assurances; don’t forget their written, decidedly non-assuring paper trail.

Take it from me, your Performance Enhancement Plan is a PIP, and don’t believe for one moment that it is not. Whether called a PEP (Performance Enhancement Plan) or anything else, it is a THREAT to your livelihood.

Here are seven points to keep in mind:
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“No Re-Hire” Clause in my Severance Agreement – Why??

Published on May 14th, 2019 by Alan L. Sklover

Sklover Working Wisdom Job Loss

Question: My employer was purchased by a competitor, and a large group of us were chosen for layoff. As part of the severance offer, I have to sign an agreement. One of the sections of the severance agreement has the title “No Re-Hire; No Application.”

It says that I will never again “seek to regain employment by the Company or any company that is affiliated with the Company.”

I haven’t done anything to deserve this, and so I am wondering why they would take that attitude toward me. It’s bad enough to lose a job, but this seems insulting. Have you ever seen this before?

Elgin, Illinois

Answer: Dear Fiona: This is not the first time I’ve received almost this exact question. It seems like more of a kick in the pants than a reasonably gentle “goodbye.” Hopefully my explanation shines a bit more light on the otherwise troubling clause.
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Human Resources . . . Employee Relations . . . What’s the Difference?

Published on February 26th, 2019 by Alan L. Sklover

Sklover Working Wisdom Controlling Company Risks

Question: Recently, a female colleague reported to my Department Head that she felt she was being harassed. I received an email from someone in “Employee Relations” asking that I meet with her to be interviewed as part of an investigation.

What’s the difference between Human Resources (“HR”) and Employee Relations (“ER”)?

She said she is a lawyer, but that she does not represent my employer. Could that be?

La Vergne, Tennessee

Answer: Dear Jessica: Your question is a very common one. It is wise of you to ask this question because it is always prudent, before you speak with someone about something that may be important, that you try to understand who they are, what they seek, and what their interests may be in speaking with you. Here are my thoughts:
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Workplace Negotiating Insight No. 15: “Standard Language” . . . There’s no such thing.

Published on April 10th, 2018 by Alan L. Sklover


It happens to me nearly every day; in fact, it happened to me just last week. When discussing language in a legal document with an employer’s HR or Legal representative, I am told “That is standard language. So, we can’t change it.”

I know why they say that: they are fearful. You see, “long, long ago, in a land far, far away,” some attorney prepared that “standard language,” and this person I am dealing with today is fearful that, if he or she makes a decision to change it today, it could be a mistake. So, it’s easier to use the excuse of “standard language” than to use their brain to address the opportunity, problem and people counting on us to do so.

To get past that, I remind this person of three points: first, this problem is not “standard,” but arose from “substandard” events, so its solution cannot be “standard.” Second, this opportunity is not standard, so the language we need to use is not going to be “standard.” And, third, these people are unique and special, so our efforts on their behalf require unique and special language.

What am I really saying? In essence, “The people you and I represent want this problem to be solved, or this special opportunity achieved. We should try “special” hard to make sure that gets done. They deserve an extra ounce of thought and an extra pound of courage from us . . . otherwise they will not be happy with the outcome . . . or us.”

If you are ever uncomfortable with the “standard language” put in front of you to sign, and are told “It is standard, so we can’t change it,” think of these “non-standard” arguments to overcome such nonsense.

Sure, you should say it “softly,” and sure, you should say it “simply,” and, too, you should say it with “sincerity.” Get past the “standard” argument, and get to the “special” one -the one that works- you and your employer want.

You are not standard, and your employer is neither. Instead you and your employer are worthy of the effort and fortitude that this problem, solution, opportunity and situation need. It’s like buying shoes . . . they’ve got to fit your feet.

This usually works for me, I am confident it will likely work for you, as well.

Observe and Learn.
Then Negotiate.

Need to send a memo or letter? A good checklist or form agreement? For a complete list of our Model Letters, Memos, Checklists and Sample Agreements, Just [click here.]

Interested in Membership? It’s free, and has advantages, including discounts on our products. Just [click here.]

Need a private telephone consultation? Just [click here.]

© 2018, Alan L. Sklover All Rights Reserved. Commercial Use Prohibited.

Workplace Negotiating Insight No. 14: Don’t Trust Promises from Those Who Don’t Honor Them

Published on October 17th, 2017 by Alan L. Sklover


“They didn’t honor past deals? Don’t make new deals with them.”

Observe and Learn:

Why trust those you know are un-trustworthy?

I have seen this situation maybe 1,000 times: a client who is terribly disappointed by an employer who I know has disappointed other employees in the past.

Time and again, these employers make promises, and never seem to honor them. It could be regarding rewards (say, stock), advancement (for example, promotions), minimum compensation (allegedly “guaranteed” bonuses), or even such basics as their title, their role or their benefits. And even when the promise is in writing.

And there always seems to be one excuse or another.

If you are considering changing jobs, asking past (and maybe present) employees about the reliability of the employer’s promises is one of the smartest things you can do.

As Einstein said, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting different results.”

Don’t rely on promises from someone who in the past has not fulfilled his or her promises to others. That advice is straight from Einstein.

Observe and Learn.
Then Negotiate.

© 2017, Alan L. Sklover All Rights Reserved. Commercial Use Prohibited.

Need to send a memo or letter? A good checklist or form agreement? For a complete list of our Model Letters, Memos, Checklists and Sample Agreements, Just [click here.]

Interested in Membership? It’s free, and has advantages, including discounts on our products. Just [click here.]

Need a private telephone consultation? Just [click here.]

Alan L. Sklover

Alan L. Sklover

Employment Attorney
and Career Strategist
for over 35 years

Job Security and Career Success now depend on knowing how to navigate and negotiate to gain the most for your skills, time and efforts. Learn the trade secrets and 'uncommon common sense' of Attorney Alan L. Sklover, the leading authority on "Negotiating for Yourself at Work™".

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