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    From my biased perspective, it is difficult to see how these “personal improvement programs” for a disappointing employee can ever be a constructive force. At best they seem misguided. At worst they appear to be a cynical HR ploy to save face before terminating an employee.

    They are always a way to terminate while protecting the company from any wrongful termination lawsuit.

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      I am not sure if you mean PIP specifically or any suchlike program in which case I politely disagree with “always”.

      Maybe I am biased since I relatively recently went through experience which regretfully ended with us letting go of someone, but that wasn’t our intention to begin with. Finding people when you grow is difficult enough, replacing them is even more annoying since you need all that effort just to get where you were and that is after all the on-boarding which also takes time. We decided to part ways when it became clear that after few months of effort we didn’t make any noticeable progress.

      One signal that separates honest effort from dishonest one is the kind of feedback person is getting: mainly how specific and focused it is.

      In my case I made certain that I explained on concrete examples not only what I was dissatisfied with, but also why; what the impact of those actions was on work and team and what specifically I wanted to see improved and again why that change is important. My aim was also not to reinvent the person wholly, but instead limiting our work on couple of areas that were proving to be most disruptive to the organisation.

      I live and work in EU country with fairly good worker protection. If those problems were just bullshit, then it would be easy to successfully sue us.

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      Once upon a time I had this job at an extremely small company. It was going along swimmingly, I thought. Until the day maybe half a year in when my bosses called me into a meeting to tell me that I had not been performing satisfactorily.

      This is not good — such a message should never come as a surprise if managers are providing feedback early and often.