“I’ve been placed on a Performance Improvement Plan (“PIP”) for not being proficient in something that is not even part of my job. What can I do?”

Question: I work for an American company. My job description does not make any mention of “technical writing.” However, I have been asked to do that, and have done my best, even though I have no training in it. 

Because of my limited abilities and shortcomings as a technical writer, I was told that an experienced technical writer would be hired just to do that kind of work. 

Recently, before the new technical writer came on board, I was placed on a Performance Improvement Plan (“PIP”) for not performing “writing” responsibilities up to their standards.

What can I do?

Houston, Texas

Answer: As all readers of our blog know, Performance Improvement Plans (“PIP’s”) are supposed to be just what their title suggests: plans to help employees improve their performance.

But as all readers of our blog also know, they are often little more than a “paper trail” to justify a termination without cause, and without severance. They sometimes also seem intended to humiliate, intimidate and infuriate, and hence encourage employees to quit – thus denying themselves both severance and unemployment benefits. 

Lorraine, your first step is to figure out whether your Performance Improvement Plan is in “good faith,” or in “bad faith.” If, as you say, your Performance Improvement Plan is based on your not performing a task that is simply not part of your job, that would strongly suggest to me that it is in “bad faith,” and you should “push back” against it.

“Pushing Back” against a baseless, bad faith Performance Improvement Plan entails writing a letter to the “upper levels” of your employer and pointing out its fraudulent nature. Our blogsite offers several resources to help you understand how to do it, and then to carry out your “push back” plan.

To read newsletter articles on our blogsite about Pushing Back at a P.I.P., [click here]

To view our video on the basics of Pushing Back at a P.I.P., [click here].

To obtain a Model Letter to help you do so, [click here].

Lorraine, there’s lots you can do. We’ve given you the best insights and tools to do so. It is now simply up to you. I hope you will not fear standing up to a Performance Improvement Plan in this way. You owe it to yourself, and your loved ones, to do so. 

I hope our resources are helpful to you.           

Best, Al Sklover

©  2010 Alan L. Sklover, All Rights Reserved.

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