Follow the 5-step performance improvement plan

Under section 26 of the Public Service Act 2008, managers must take prompt and appropriate action to address the unacceptable work performance or personal conduct of employees who report to them.

The recommended timeframe to implement a performance improvement plan (PIP) from the initial meeting in week 1 to final review is generally 12 weeks.

See our recommended actions and timeframes for managers addressing unsatisfactory employee performance.

1. Step 1: Intervene early

  • Conduct informal conversations.
  • Document discussions of unsatisfactory performance.
  • Review performance development plan where appropriate.
  • Implement a formal PIP if early intervention does not result in improvement.

2. Step 2: Prepare a PIP

  • Identify specific areas for improvement.
  • Involve local human resources (HR).
  • Invite employee to meeting and include reason for meeting.
  • Allow reasonable time for employee to arrange a support person.

3. Step 3: Initial meeting (week 1)

  • Meet with employee and clearly define the issue, including impact on service and others.
  • Aim to agree on:
    • what to improve (actual vs expected performance)
    • how he or she might improve
    • strategies or support to help improvement
    • whether barriers to improvement exist.
  • Advise the period until final review including dates of review meetings.
  • Advise the consequences if the employee’s performance doesn't improve.

4. Step 4: Review meetings (weeks 2–10)

  • Meet regularly over 4 to 10 weeks as appropriate.
  • Follow through on commitments made for training or support.
  • Provide ongoing feedback at meetings, i.e. be clear whether expectations are being met.
  • Provide written summary after each meeting to the employee and invite comment.
  • Continue to involve local HR.
  • Don't stop the process even if issues have been resolved.
  • Continue monitoring and providing feedback between review meetings.

5. Step 5: Final review (weeks 11–12)

  • Complete the final review and documentation even if there is no longer an issue.
  • Confirm whether issues have been resolved and the next steps.
  • Note employee comments and give him or her a written summary of the outcome.

6. Outcomes

Your actions at the conclusion of the PIP process depend on its outcomes.

Issue resolved

  • Continue to manage performance as part of normal review process.
  • Acknowledge the employee’s achievement.
  • Focus on how he or she improved, and how to maintain their performance.

Issue not resolved—extend or repeat PIP

  • You can repeat or extend a PIP because the employee has demonstrated good progress or you haven’t been able to assess him or her.
  • Be clear about the length of extension and new final review date.

Issue not resolved—recommend starting a disciplinary process

  • Provide PIP documentation to decision-maker.
  • Decision-maker considers grounds for discipline in accordance with section 187 of the Public Service Act 2008.