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In my 20-plus years in HR across a number of different organizations, there has been no process perhaps less arduous or full of pain than the dreaded Performance Improvement Plan, or PIP as it is commonly referred to in the industry. I have managed several PIPs over the course of my career and it always seems to be the last thing that leaders want to deal with when they have an employee with a performance concern. Despite numerous coaching discussions with leaders, they always want to fast-forward to what happens at the end of the PIP, regardless of whether the employee has met the conditions set forth in said PIP.
I cannot tell you how many times I have had discussions with leaders about how the process works and their responsibilities in it. At times, depending on how new a leader is to either the organization or to leading team members as a manager, there is always quite a bit of gnashing of teeth and throwing up of hands.
Many view it as yet another thing they “have to deal with.” Many times, they don’t look at the employee side of the equation. Here is someone who needs help, perhaps some additional guidance or time to come up to speed in learning a complex process, product or organization and how they fit in.
Now to answer the inevitable question that is rolling around in the back of many people’s minds. Why do I need to do a PIP because most PIPs end in terminations/separations anyway? The answer is that it depends. It depends on the leader and their employee’s motivations and commitment. In my career, I have seen them work for people and they come out as some of our strongest employees, while I have also seen them create stress in employees that fuels their belief that they will fail, causing them to give up. The simple fact of the matter is that we made an investment to hire this person and we owe it to both them and ourselves to make an investment to try and help them.
A fail-point in PIPs can be the process itself. Depending on the maturity of the organization, the process and needs are often not well thought out and can leave the HR rep/business partner and the manager to their own devices about how they believe it should be done (or how they have seen it done elsewhere). This is almost always a recipe for disaster. Bringing a PIP to a successful close is a delicate balance of art and science that finds the right result for the employee and the organization.
Now that I have been with The Anti for about 6 months, have attained my CSA and begun working on projects for some amazing clients, I have also started delving deeper into ServiceNow functionality. With the latest update, Tokyo, ServiceNow released (somewhat quietly) a lifecycle event for performance improvement plans (PIPs). When I first learned about it, I could not wait to get my PDI (Professional Developer Instance) updated and to dig into the functionality. Well, I did do that and I am super impressed with the product. While many organizations may seek to customize the tasks and actions within the event, the Out of the Box product just works and it integrates across many of the new enhancements for Tokyo. It is so amazing to have this as part of the latest release and it is definitely something I cannot wait to work on with my clients and customers. Another great decision that ServiceNow made with this product is that they added it into Employee Relations so that there is additional security to lock down the visibility of these cases so that only those with the Employee Relations roles are able to view and act on them. It makes so much sense given the sensitive nature of these events in organizations.
If Performance Improvement Plans are something your HR Teams are struggling with, or, if you would like to improve on your PIPs to give the organization more visibility while turning PIPs into a more repeatable process, we here at The Anti would love to talk to you about it. We can definitely help you build your ServiceNow skills in this area/space!
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