This category is going to fall under the overall need to establish urgency. It’s also going to be filed under how to not take things too personally.
Prior to formally being put on a performance improvement plan (PIP), I got two emails that were formal “letters of concern.” The meat of the areas of concern were legitimate, but I focused on the stuff that wasn’t legitimate and took it personally.
I read several people’s perspectives of PIPs and what to do about them on Reddit. The advice ranged from just fold and spend the rest of the PIP person job hunting, to hunker down and work hard. The two schools of thought were: one, this is the last step before you’re fired, or two, a PIP is an honest attempt by your employer to get your attention.
The attainment amount in the PIP would indicate if it was the last step before termination or if it was an honest attempt at a turnaround. The number in my PIP was so high that it was unlikely I was going to attain it, but I still worked hard at trying to hit it.
The problem with being on a PIP is that you’re in a no-win situation, unless there’s a clear explanation about when the PIP is over. Mine didn’t have that. So in the unlikely event that I hit the number in the plan, there was no indication that I would’ve been taken off the plan. So in addition to the grind of carrying a monthly quota, I would also have had the possibility of termination hanging over my head.
In my case, the two problems with waiting to be on a PIP to turn things around were having an insurmountable attainment number and indefinitely being one bad month away from getting fired.
So this is stating the obvious, but you want to avoid being put on a PIP. The main thing I would’ve done differently is project that I was taking it seriously. There are a few ways I think I could’ve done this:
- More strategic account planning – At a high level this is just having a plan for what you want to achieve with each account.
- Get my managers involved – It didn’t seem like my managers were truly vested in my success. From a quota attainment standpoint, they wanted to succeed. But at the end I don’t think they had a good grasp of what I was dealing with.
- Go onsite more – The travel approval process was inconsistent, but I could’ve been more persistent in planning onsite visits.