How to Write and Communicate an Effective Performance Improvement Plan (PIP)

Read this article to learn the A to Z of performance improvement plans


min read

When you analyze or study your employee performance review results, you will realize that not all employees fall in the top quadrant of performance. Many of them need guidance to bridge the gaps in their performance and improve the same. However, ad hoc or simple verbal suggestions may not always yield sustainable change. There comes the need to write and implement a Performance Improvement Plan or PIP to make a real impact. Through the course of this article, we will cover:

  • What is a performance improvement plan and when should you use it
  • The structure of an effective PIP and steps to write one
  • Best practices to implement PIP and evaluate its impact
  • Performance improvement plan examples
  • Top questions on PIP that you have (general FAQs)

What is a Performance Improvement Plan (PIP)?

As the name suggests, a performance improvement plan is a plan or a document which enables an employee to identify and understand challenges in his/her performance and take steps and address them. 

PIP is an effective tool which you can use to encourage your employees to work on improving their performance from a skills training, behavior/ attitude or even goals/performance mismatch perspective 

Put simply, it contains the areas of improvement, actions/ solutions to address them and resources/ support to accelerate this journey.

When should you use a PIP?

Many growing organizations that are implementing PIP for the first time are confused about when it should be implemented and for how long. Significantly different from normal performance feedback, a performance improvement plan cannot be implemented for all employees. It is specifically meant for those who have been underperforming for a while and other practices have already been tried. You can use a performance improvement plan when:

1. The employee is not productive

You need to have a PIP if the employee is underperforming due to a decrease in productivity as opposed to what is expected from him/ her.

Signs to look out for:

  • The employee is unable to meet the targets/ deadlines
  • The employee is constantly complaining about the workload
  • The employee does not possess the right skills for the job

Here, a PIP can help gauge the underlying reasons for reduced/ lack of productivity and facilitate appropriate measures for both skill enhancement and behavioral adjustments to promote high levels of productivity. 

2. The employee is disengaged

Another case for PIP comes when you feel that a lack of engagement is leading to reduced levels of performance for the employee. 

Signs to look out for:

  • The employee doesn’t actively participate and illustrates a sense of withdrawal
  • There has been an increase in absenteeism/ uninformed time off
  • There has been a decline in the overall work quality

If you create the right PIP, it can help understand why the employee is feeling disengaged and a combination of mentorship, challenging work environment, and other practices can augment engagement leading to better performance. 

3. The overall work culture is suffering

You need a PIP if the overall culture is suffering because of the behavior of a particular employee which needs to be fixed to ensure better organizational performance. 

Signs to look out for:

  • The employee is always late to work
  • The employee has excuses for everything
  • The employee is always complaining about the work delegated to him/ her

Here, a PIP can help the employee work on his/her overall attitude towards work and promote practices and behaviors which can create a positive and high performing culture. 

4. The problem can be fixed with a PIP

You need a PIP only in situations where the performance problems can be fixed with such a plan. Problems where there is a coherent disconnect like insubordination, lack of respect, etc. are quite challenging to be fixed with a PIP. 

Signs to look out for:

  • There is a skills-role disconnect
  • There is a behavior problem that can be fixed

Bonus tip

Read how to address poor employee performance at work to learn how to deal with performance issues when PIP is not required. This article will help you understand what are the early signs of poor performance and how to structure your performance conversations and feedback sessions effectively.

Duration of a Performance Improvement Plan

A performance management plan can go on for anywhere between 30-90 days or more depending on the situation. Since each PIP is very personal and specific to a particular employee, one fixed duration cannot be determined. However, there are some reference points you can consider:

  • If it is a skills gap challenge, 30-60 days is a good duration depending on the nature of skills that need to be learnt. 
  • If it is a behavioral challenge, 60-90 days of PIP may be needed to adjust the underlying attitude. 

Anything below 30 days will be too short a time to notice any change. However, anything beyond 90 days can be a waste of time if there is no change in sight. Therefore, it is best to track performance every few weeks and adjust the plan duration accordingly. 

Structure of a Performance Improvement Plan 

Structure of performance improvement plan

Now that you know what a performance improvement plan seeks to achieve and when you should use it, let’s quickly take a look at what you should be including in your PIP, i.e. its structure. Essentially, there are 5 components of an effective PIP

1. The problem

It covers the problem or the performance issue that needs to be worked upon. This involves highlighting the problem, identifying underlying causes and illustrating the impact of the poor performance

2. The goal

Second, the PIP should focus on what the end goal or objective is. This involves highlighting what the employee must be able to achieve once the plan comes to the end of its duration. 

3. The action plan

Third, the plan should illustrate how that goal has to be achieved, covering specific actions that need to be taken by the employee and the support that will be offered by the organizations and the managers. 

4. The metrics

Next, metrics for performance need to be clearly highlighted. Depending on the focus of the PIP, you must establish appropriate metrics to gauge whether or not the PIP has worked. 

5. The consequences

Finally, you must focus on including the consequences in your PIP of what to expect if the PIP is not taken into consideration or if the intended goal is not achieved. 

How to write a PIP? 

The natural next step here is to understand how you can write a performance improvement plan with this step-by-step process to ensure you don’t miss out on anything important. 

Step 1: List out the performance gaps

  • Highlight the areas in which performance improvement is required like reducing absenteeism, better communication skills, inability to meet targets, etc. 
  • Focus on providing an acceptable performance against each deficiency for reference.
  • Include specific data such as when performance deficiency was observed, expectations.
  • Attach as many credible sources as possible to ensure that performance gaps are evident. 

Step 2: Highlight corrective measures

  • Illustrate how the performance gaps can be bridged
  • Highlight specific training or learning objectives/ initiatives that should be undertaken
  • Focus on specific interventions for each improvement area

Step 3: Create SMART goals

  • Highlight what success would look like
  • Ensure the goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time Bound
  • Create precise timelines for results with an expiration date
  • Create milestone goals as a part of the larger goals for the entire PIP duration

Step 4: Define the support and resources available

  • Share the support you will provide to make it a collaborative effort
  • Mention the training and other learning opportunities that the employee can leverage on the organization’s cost
  • Illustrate the additional support in the form of mentorship, coaching, etc. that will be available

Step 5: Develop a check-in plan with metrics

  • Be specific on when there will be check-ins to see improvement in performance
  • Check-ins could be weekly or fortnightly, depending on the plan
  • Establish metrics for each check-in

Step 6: Highlight the impact of lack of improvement

  • Clearly illustrate what lack of improvement will lead to
  • Focus on measures like demotion, termination, etc. that may be implemented
  • Ensure that consequences don’t overwhelm the employee by making their wordings encouraging

How to implement a PIP? 

Once you have written a performance improvement plan, you need to implement it to achieve the desired goals. However, there are many misconceptions about PIPs that can overwhelm employees when you talk about putting them on one. They might see it as a sign of getting fired or it can further demotivate them for being labeled as a poor performer. Therefore, it is important to implement the PIP properly, following these simple practices.

1. Have an initial conversation

If you introduce the plan without any context, you are setting the PIP up for failure

Rather, you should:

  • Start with an initial conversation about the performance challenges
  • Understand the reasons for poor performance
  • Give a subtle hint about the use case for a PIP to improve performance

2. Introduce the plan

After the initial conversation, you can relook at the PIP you have created to check if you would want to make any changes to make it more receptive for the employee based on your discussion. Following which you should introduce the plan by sharing:

  • The various sections of the plan and the objective of each
  • The rationale and your motivation behind the plan and how it is likely to impact the employee’s professional journey
  • What end goals look like to you and how they can be achieved

3. Seek feedback and be open to changes

Don’t make implementation of a performance improvement plan a monologue. Give time to your employee to absorb the information presented and seek feedback by:

  • Asking questions on what they feel about the plan
  • Checking if there is any disconnect with what they feel and how the plan can be improved
  • Being open to changes and suggestions and modifying the PIP on mutual agreement

4. Show support and commitment

Finally, once the PIP is ready, both you and the employee should sign it off to give it credibility. It is important that you make your employee feel comfortable and confident by:

  • Showing your commitment with examples of how you will support him/her throughout the process
  • Highlighting the additional resources that will be at his/her disposal
  • Showing faith in their capabilities with words of encouragement

Review process for Performance Improvement Plan

Now that you have implemented the PIP for your employee, it is important to supplement your efforts with a review process to ensure that the PIP is actually creating an impact. Here are the top practices to ensure effective review:

  • Follow a regular check-in based review process and monitor progress on a weekly/ fortnightly basis
  • Have a clear agenda for each review meeting and ensure that you are prepared with a list of discussion items
  • Focus on factors that go beyond the performance too, including showing up for the review meeting on time, attending the meeting regularly, coming prepared, etc. to gauge seriousness for the PIP
  • Identify areas of performance improvement and acknowledge the practices that led to the same
  • Focus on the gaps that still exist and go back to the PIP to continue the efforts
  • Measure performance along the established metrics to gauge the impact
  • Realign on corrective measures and support in case the expected improvement is not observed
  • Encourage self reflection by the employee, focusing on what they have realized, what they seek to do next
  • Document the progress on a regular basis to ensure a steady upward curve
  • Close the PIP once the goals/objectives have been met
  • In case the goals have not been met and the expiration date of the PIP has arrived, look at the consequences documented and follow a plan of action

Top examples of PIP 

Depending on your employees, there can be different situations or reasons for implementing a performance improvement plan. To give you a broad understanding, we have captured below some of the examples of performance improvement plans.

Example 1: Inability to meet deadlines

Performance problem: Mr. X has missed 5 deadlines over the past 2 months. Despite having a conversation on the same and sharing concern over the need to meet deadlines, there has been no improvement in the attitude or performance. The major problem lies in the inability to multitask and manage work properly, which leads to delay in work submission, impacting the sales of the organization. 

Objective: Meet all deadlines by augmenting efficiency at work and taking support wherever needed. Ensure that there is no delay in delivering work based on expected timelines

Action plan: 

  • Leverage project management tools to keep a track of work and visualize the deadlines
  • Set reminders and prioritize work by speaking with the managers to ensure deadlines are met
  • Seek support from colleagues in case of time crunch or skill gap
  • Undertake training on time management and upskilling for tasks that you are not trained for

Improved performance metrics: Reduced number of missed deadlines while maintaining the quality of work. 

Example 2: Lack of productivity

Performance problem: Ms. Y has been unable to meet the targets set for marketing every month. All her colleagues are able to generate the required traffic for their social media handles, except her. Even after several months, there has been no increase in the traffic and even maintaining the same engagement has been difficult for her. This has led to an impact on the organizational brand as a marketing agency.

Objective: Increase the traffic to the social media handle by xx% in the next 60 days and maintain it thereafter

Action plan:

  • Undertake social media management training focused on increasing and retaining traffic
  • Learn how to make your content more engaging for your target audience
  • Create an acquisition and retention strategy by collaborating with your peers and manager

Improved performance metrics: Increased traffic on your social media handle with high levels of engagement

Example 3: Inaccuracies in work

Performance problem: Mr. Z has been constantly making errors in his work. He is responsible for managing the financial statements of the organization and has been unable to ensure correct data entry. These inaccuracies are leading to discrepancies in the organization’s balance sheet, impacting the business as a whole. 

Objective: Significantly reduce the number of errors and inaccuracies in work across the financial statements

Action plan:

  • Undertake a training on advanced excel/ other accounting software to leverage the advances of automation in the field
  • Spend at least 30 minutes every day to review your work before sharing it with the team
  • Seek support from Ms. A to check your work before it reaches your superiors

Improved performance metrics: Reduced inaccuracies in work and an improved quality of output.

Use performance snapshots for PIP

While we have talked about some of the use cases when you may want to leverage a PIP, having additional support, data and understanding can help you go a long way. Here, relying on performance snapshot by SuperBeings can enable you to recognize constant low performers to adopt PIP for.

  • Start with capturing performance feedback on regular intervals from managers on performance of your employees, using pre-built templates
  • Capture performance trends over time through an automated 9-box grid which captures the progress in performance across the 9 boxes in a bias free manner
  • Compare the progress for different team members and leverage data from previous snapshots to gauge development or low levels of performance
  • Leverage these data points to identify employees who have shown little or no progress over time and who may need PIP to facilitate development

Frequently asked questions about Performance Improvement Plans

It is quite clear by now, that a performance improvement plan can significantly help you in creating a high performance culture by enabling underperforming employees with the right guidance, support and a structured plan to address the problems. However, before we end this article, we understand that several questions might be on your mind as you start your journey. Here are answers to a top few.

Who should write PIP: managers or HR?

A performance improvement plan should be written by the line managers or the direct reports of the employee in question. This would ensure that the performance problems and corrective measures are in line with functional needs. However, it is important that the PIP is reviewed by the HR team to ensure the language and the plan complies with the overall policies. 

Is PIP a development strategy or an exit route?

Many employees believe that a PIP is an indicator that they are going to be fired or an exit route. However, if used effectively, it is essentially a development strategy to help employees bridge the performance gaps. The onus of communicating the right meaning lies with the managers. Managers need to show it as a tool for empowerment and improvement and not as a last resort which will end up with firing the employee. 

Can a PIP be extended?

The general duration of a PIP ranges between 30-90 days and an extension within this range is normal. Depending on the performance metrics, the manager and the employee can extend the PIP from 30 to 60 days. However, an extension beyond 90 days is generally not observed, unless there are any special circumstances like a break due to some personal emergency, etc. 

When should a PIP be developed?

A PIP should be developed after a performance problem becomes apparent through due course of time. A PIP cannot be implemented when there is a slight dip in performance for the first time. Initial instances can be addressed with feedback and guidance. However, if the performance problem becomes a trend over time, a more structured and stricter course of action is needed and that’s when a PIP should be developed. 

Suggested Articles

How to go from performance management to employee development

How often to conduct performance reviews

Manager's guide to effective 1:1 meetings

Sudeshna Roy

Marketing, SuperBeings

Hi There! I am Sudeshna. At SuperBeings, I lead our content strategy to bring you the best and latest on everything related to people management

Latest posts

min read

50+ Most Useful Employee Onboarding Survey Questions

‘Onboarding: How to get your new employees up to speed in half the time’ - George Bradt, founder and Chairman PrimeGenesis

Did you know that a strong onboarding process improves new hire retention by 82% and productivity by over 70%? 

However, only 12% of employees strongly agree their organization does a great job at onboarding new employees. 

This clearly states that while employee onboarding has a direct impact on the bottom line, most organizations miss out on how to get it right. 

Don’t let that happen to you. To onboard new employees like a pro, keep reading.

What is an onboarding survey?

By definition, an onboarding survey is a questionnaire that is administered on new hires to gauge their initial experience and level of satisfaction, in an attempt to understand their engagement and retention potential. 

As an HR, you can get multiple insights from an onboarding survey, including:

  • what employees thought about the organization when they heard about it for the first time
  • how their impression changed over time 
  • whether or not their experience aligns with their expectations, etc.

It can help you estimate how long the employees are likely to stay and how you can further optimize your onboarding process to make it more aligned with employee expectations. 

Why are onboarding surveys important?

An effective onboarding survey can help you reflect on your performance through the onboarding process, which directly impacts KPIs for organizational success, including:

1. Retention

93% of employers believe a good onboarding experience is critical in influencing a new employee’s decision whether to stay with the company. At the same time, 25% of a company’s new hires would leave within a year if the onboarding experience was poor. 

2. eNPS

20% of new hires are unlikely to recommend an employer to a friend or family member and an onboarding survey can help you identify the reasons for the same. However, new team members who were asked to provide feedback prior to their start date also had a 79% increase in willingness to refer others. Thus, illustrating how onboarding surveys and feedback can impact eNPS.

Read: How to use eNPS for better employee engagement

3. Satisfaction and Engagement

Employees with exceptional onboarding experiences are 2.6x more likely to be extremely satisfied with their workplace and 70% say they have ‘the best possible job’.

4. Performance

77% of employees who went through a formal onboarding process were able to meet their first performance goals. However, 49% of individuals who failed to reach their first performance milestone had no official onboarding instruction. An onboarding survey can help you determine the effectiveness of your onboarding process.  

5. Other

In addition, your new employees might also have an inclination towards providing feedback as a part of the onboarding survey, which you will lose out if you don’t conduct the same. Research shows that only 26% of new employees recall being asked for feedback on their candidate journey and the hiring process before their start date wherein 91% of new hires are willing to provide this feedback. 

Employee onboarding survey: Best practices

Now that you understand the importance of an employee onboarding survey, let’s quickly discuss how to effectively run an onboarding survey. 

1. Set the cadence

You must coincide your employee onboarding survey with important milestones for the new employee in the organization. Mostly, these milestones coincide with the end of the first few months. Thus, you should circulate your onboarding survey after 30, 60 and 90 days respectively, with different objectives for each. Furthermore, you can send interim surveys in case you feel the need, for instance, when the employee starts a project, or when the orientation process is over. 

“Effective employee onboarding isn’t about swag, stickers, & company value pamphlets on their desk the 1st day. But, how you help them understand their goals & how co values are interwoven in operating are more important.”- Suhail Doshi, founder and chairman of Mixpanel, Inc.

2. Identify critical areas and build questions

Based on the milestones or cadence you have set up, it is important to identify areas you would want to cover with each milestone. For instance:

In the first 30 days, you should focus on themes like: 

  • Orientation process
  • Initial thoughts
  • Expectation alignment 
  • Recruitment process
  • Onboarding experience

In 60 days, you can touch on themes like:

  • Knowledge transfer
  • Level of engagement and satisfaction
  • Induction process

By the end of 90 days, focus should shift towards:

  • Manager support
  • Role clarity
  • Likelihood to stay
  • Organizational alignment

Once you have decided the themes, you can start building questions, a snapshot of which is covered in the next section or you can download the template now here. The themes can be fluid across milestones, depending on the context for your organization. 

3. Roll out the survey for participation

Once the milestone arrives, you should roll out the onboarding survey and drive participation. It is important to explain to your new employees why the onboarding survey is important and how they can fill it up. Give them the requisite time, deadlines and communicate what will be the next steps to encourage them to participate. 

4. Follow up

Simply rolling out the survey is not enough. You must reach out to your new employees to remind them to fill the onboarding survey as amidst numerous new things, they might lose track of it. Don’t push too hard, yet send subtle reminders to get genuine responses. For instance: employee survey tools such as SuperBeings integrate with chat tools like Slack, Teams, Gchat to send personalized nudges to fill out the survey in the flow of work at set intervals as well as allows them to participate directly without switching context. 

Unlock a wide array of survey questions and employee analytics. See how SuperBeings can help

5. Take action

Once your onboarding survey responses are in, slice and dice them to get insights into what your employees feel and leverage the data points to further refine your onboarding process to facilitate engagement, retention and advocacy from the beginning. 

Sample onboarding survey questions for 30-60-90 day review

Taking cue from the section above, here are 50+ onboarding survey questions that you can leverage to gauge the pulse of your new employees as they complete different milestones.

You can also download these questions as a template and use it whenever you need. Click here to download

1. Onboarding survey questions for 30 day review

a) Onboarding and orientation process

  1. How can we change or improve the onboarding process?
  2. What did you like most about the onboarding process?
  3. Was the orientation interactive and engaging?
  4. Did the onboarding process meet your expectations?
  5. Do you feel welcome and proud to be working here?
  6. How would you rate the duration and quality of your onboarding experience?
  7. How would you describe your first day?

b) Decision related questions

  1. What were the top 3 reasons for joining this company?
  2. Do you think those reasons have been met?

c) Technical training and knowledge transfer

  1. Have you received the training that you were promised during your induction?
  2. Did the training meet your expectations and was accurately described during the hiring process?
  3. Is the training relevant to your roles and responsibilities?
  4. Were adequate tools and materials shared during training to facilitate knowledge transfer?

2. Onboarding survey questions for 60 day review

a) Engagement related questions

  1. Would you recommend the company to others in your network?
  2. Do you see yourself working here in 2 years?
  3. Do you feel motivated to come to work in the morning?
  4. Do you feel prepared for your role?

b) Onboarding experience

  1. Did the first 30 days of onboarding go as expected?
  2. What is the one thing you would like to change from your experience so far?

c) Company policies

  1. Are you clear on the different company policies shared with you?
  2. Do you have any concerns about any of the policies that you would like to highlight?
  3. Do you think any policy is missing that you think must be a part of our governance?

d) Questions about team

  1. Have your team members been integral in smooth onboarding?
  2. Have you been able to connect and collaborate with all your team members?
  3. Do you consider your team members to be welcoming and inclusive?
  4. What is the thing you would like to change about how your team works currently?

e) Reflection questions

  1. Have you been able to achieve the goals you set out for your 60 days?
  2. How has your journey been so far?
  3. What has been your biggest accomplishment in 60 days?
  4. What are some achievements you would like to ensure in the next 30 days?

3. Onboarding survey questions for 90 day review

a) Role and expectation clarity

  1. Do you have an understanding of what is expected from you as a part of this role?
  2. Is your role similar to what was communicated to you during the hiring process?
  3. Do you have the necessary resources you need for the role?
  4. Do you have clarity of your goals?
  5. Do you understand how your work will be evaluated?
  6. Does your role meet your career aspirations?
  7. What do you think is the most difficult part about your role?
  8. What excites you most about your current role?
  9. Do you understand the importance of the work you do?

b) Organizational alignment

  1. Do your values align with the organizational values?
  2. Do you believe in the vision and mission of the organization?
  3. Do you believe your ideas are valued?
  4. Do you have clarity on the organization’s future plans and do you align with them?
  5. Do you see yourself as a part of this organization 5 years from now?

c) Manager support

  1. Have your conversations with the managers been effective?
  2. Does your manager support your career aspirations?
  3. Does your manager provide you with the necessary support to perform your role effectively?
  4. Do you receive regular feedback from your manager?
  5. Does your manager include you in key discussions, wherever applicable?

d) Other questions

  1. What are some of the challenges you have faced so far?
  2. Do you feel your onboarding was successful?
  3. How can we help you in improving the overall experience?
  4. Do you feel included and accepted by everyone in the team?
  5. How do you see yourself progressing from here?
  6. Do you have access to all the information you need?

Wrapping up (TL:DR)

By now, it would be very clear to you that an employee onboarding survey can help you in multiple ways to create a high performance culture. It can enable you to augment retention, engagement, satisfaction and advocacy among employees to ensure that there is minimal turnover and you are able to attract high quality talent. Ensure that you roll out an onboarding survey at 30/60/90 days frequency to check onboarding experience, knowledge transfer, manager support, role clarity, etc. 

You should focus on other forms of employee feedback on culture, training and development opportunities, level of engagement, manager effectiveness, workplace collaboration, work-life balance, among others. 

Finally, you should focus on leveraging technology and automation to add efficiency and effectiveness to your onboarding survey and process. 

Research shows, automating onboarding tasks resulted in a 16% increase in retention rates for new hires.

Thus, consider partnering with a survey platform which enables you to:

  • Use science-backes best practices onboarding survey templates
  • Track employee milestones automatically and roll out surveys on due date with zero to minimal manual intervention 
  • Integrate surveys with existing chat tools for reminders and sending out survey questions
  • Use NLP for decoding sentiments behind open comments to understand the reason behind each response
  • Use other employee engagement surveys to get the whole picture of new hire engagement

Related Reading

How to use employee engagement survey comments

Best employee engagement survey tools in the market today

min read

How to Give Constructive Feedback? (With Examples)

When it comes to performance management for employees, you would agree that feedback plays an important role. However, only offering positive feedback and appreciating the performance of your employees is not enough. You need to give them an equal amount of constructive feedback which is specific to ensure high levels of performance. If you feel that your employees may not embrace constructive feedback, think again.

Research shows that 92% of people believe that constructive feedback is effective at improving performance.

In this article we will help you understand how you can give constructive feedback and examples you can leverage. 

What is constructive feedback?

Constructive feedback is essentially a tool that most forward looking professionals leverage to help others in their team with specific and constructive inputs on areas where one’s performance can be improved. Put simply, if you have an employee who doesn’t pay attention to detail, constructive feedback involves helping them acknowledge that this is a problem area, and more than that, enabling them with the support to overcome the same. It involves not only identifying a performance problem, but also, providing action items and ways to address the same. 

Importance of constructive feedback

Now that you have an understanding of what constructive feedback means, let’s quickly look at some of the top reasons why constructive feedback is important. Constructive feedback:

  • Improves performance: It enables your team members to understand how they can perform better with specific inputs on areas of improvement
  • Reinforces expectations: It helps your employees clearly gauge what is expected out of them in terms of performance, and sets clear deliverables and measurement parameters to avoid any surprises during performance appraisal
  • Boosts morale and confidence: It involves also appreciating employees for a job well done and illustrates how they can become a better version of themselves
  • Facilitates employee stickiness: It ensures that employees see your organization which cares about their professional growth and encourages them to stick around longer, and even act as advocates for others.

Positive feedback vs constructive feedback 

When delivering feedback, you must understand the difference between positive and constructive feedback and ensure that you use both of them where they fit the best. Here a quick distinction between positive feedback vs constructive feedback:

  • Positive feedback focuses on a job well done and highlights where an employee has excelled. Whereas, constructive feedback talks about areas of improvement and action items for desirable outcomes. 
  • While positive feedback seeks to reinforce the positive behavior, constructive feedback focuses more on facts and traits.
  • Positive feedback is a reflection of the past performance and doesn’t necessarily have a futuristic orientation, however, constructive feedback takes reference from the past to feed better performance in the future.  
  • “Your presentation during the board meeting was crisp and informative” is an example of positive feedback. Whereas, “While your presentation was informative, you can focus more on articulation to ensure that all your research is communicated in a way that everyone is able to understand. Using pointers can help here”, is an example of constructive feedback.
In a nutshell, positive feedback is a reinforcement tool, whereas constructive feedback is a mechanism to facilitate development. 

How to give constructive feedback

With an understanding of the fundamentals of constructive feedback, let’s quickly jump to the best practices which can help you deliver constructive feedback in a nuanced and effective manner. 

1. Decide when to give the constructive feedback

The first thing you need to focus on is ensuring that the timing of the constructive feedback is ideal. For instance, a busy period when the employee is putting in a lot of effort may not be ideal for giving them feedback about their performance from three months ago. At the same time, ensure that you provide constructive feedback regularly and consistently, to avoid recency or primacy bias. However, don’t offer feedback when you are angry about their performance either. 

2. Set the context and build trust

Before you get down to giving the feedback, set the tone. Share with the employee the purpose of the meeting and make them comfortable prior to sharing your reflections. It is important that you build trust so your employees can share their perspective and don’t feel intimidated by what you have to say. 

3. Share your reflections

Once the context and tone is set, start sharing your reflections. Your focus should be on sharing what you have observed about their performance. However, ensure that you also share how the same is likely to impact their career growth as well as organizational success. For instance, if you are providing constructive feedback about missing deadlines, you can use the impact of losing clients for the organization and a casual attitude marker for the employee.

4. Give specific examples

When sharing reflections, use specific examples of when you noticed a particular behavior. For instance, in the above example, you can share instances of when the employee missed his/her deadlines. Ensure that you use examples which illustrate a pattern, rather than a one off incident, which is very uncommon. Furthermore, always use concrete examples and not interpretation of what you hear or see.   

5. Balance positive and negative

With constructive feedback, your focus should be on helping the employee improve their performance and work on their areas of development.

However, simply pointing out their weaknesses or negatives in their performance will not help. You need to also talk about some of the positive aspects of their performance and how those qualities can help them absorb and implement their constructive feedback. 

6. Be empathetic

Emotional intelligence is extremely important when delivering constructive feedback. You cannot be apathetic towards your employee when delivering the same. Put yourself in their shoes to choose your phrases carefully. We will share some examples in the next section. Also, use your EQ to read the situation when you are delivering the feedback. If you see that the employee is getting uncomfortable, take a pause and comfort them first. Read their gestures and body language to ensure that the employee is not feeling attacked. 

7. Don’t make it personal

Like it or not, constructive feedback involves pointing out one’s weaknesses and areas of improvement. However, you should refrain from equating the performance of the employee with his/her personality or whole self. For instance, if someone misses deadlines, encourage them to be more organized or prioritize important work, than labeling them as a procrastinator. 

8. Encourage response from the other side

While you are delivering the constructive feedback, you have to make sure it is a dialogue.

The idea is to give the other person enough room to share their side of the story.

Try to understand whether or not they agree with your feedback and how they perceive the same. They may share the lack of support or resources, which have resulted in a weak performance. Be open to some reverse feedback as well. Again, your EQ must be at play here. If your employee has an outburst, or reacts negatively, you need to stay composed and calm them down. 

9. Discuss potential solutions

Once you and your employee are aligned on the areas of improvement, the most important part of constructive feedback is to provide adequate solutions to address the performance challenges. Don’t give abstract or vague solutions like be punctual if the employee misses deadlines. Rather, give very specific and action oriented solutions which are directed towards a particular outcome. The idea is to collectively understand the cause of the weak area of performance and use concrete solutions to remedy the same. 

10. Create a time bound action plan

Now that you have shared some potential solutions, you must revise the top action items with your employee to avoid any confusion. At the same time, you should focus on creating a time bound plan with key milestones to ensure that development is taking place. Summarize what was discussed and how you will proceed from there. Best is to set up a date to review the progress to ensure constructive feedback is paid heed to. 

Read our article on Start Stop Continue Feedback to give action oriented feedback

20 Constructive feedback examples 

Here are top 20 constructive feedback examples that you can use during your next conversation. To make your constructive feedback more effective, we have also illustrated examples of what you should steer away from.

1. Communication skills

Example of how to give constructive feedback

I would really like to know how you have progressed on the tasks assigned to you last month. It would be ideal if you could share a progress update on what has been achieved with a small summary of challenges/ support needed at the end of every week to ensure everyone is on the same page.

Example of how not to give constructive feedback

You have not kept your team updated about your work, this is highly unprofessional.

2. Attention to detail

Example of how to give constructive feedback

I was going through the work you submitted last week and I can see you have put in a lot of effort. However, I could see that there were some small errors and inaccuracies in the report across multiple sections. I believe that if you proofread your work thoroughly before turning it in, it will reduce the number of iterations and improve your quality of work. 

Example of how not to give constructive feedback

You seem completely distracted as you have been submitting flawed and below average work, this will not be tolerated. 

3. Time management

Example of how to give constructive feedback

I understand that you are working on multiple projects, however, you need to ensure that the most important projects are not overlooked and their timelines are not missed. Therefore, I would suggest you create a list of tasks you are working on and check with the respective reporting managers on the priority and set clear expectations to ensure that no deadlines are missed. 

Example of how not to give constructive feedback

You have missed your deadline again, it seems like you are not serious about you work. 

4. Goal achievement

Example of how to give constructive feedback

I see that you have been able to achieve only a part of the goals that you set out for this year. Maybe you were trying to spread yourself too thin. I would suggest you reduce the number of projects you are working on and ensure that the goals you set you are able to achieve. Furthermore, you must be vocal about the support or resources you need to achieve your goals. 

Example of how not to give constructive feedback

Are you even serious about your work, your level of goal achievement indicates otherwise. 

5. Absenteeism

Example of how to give constructive feedback

I see that you have been taking some time off lately, without any prior intimation. Let’s try to understand if there is a particular reason for the same. We can work on your schedule to make it more flexible. 

Example of how not to give constructive feedback

You have been missing all meetings lately, this tardiness is not appreciated. 

6. Problem solving

Example of how to give constructive feedback

I see that you are excellent at execution of ideas. However, I believe that you need to focus more on coming up with solutions on your own. I would suggest participating more in the brainstorming sessions and coming up with solutions. Try to think on your own, before you reach out to others with the problem.

Example of how not to give constructive feedback

You lack any problem solving capabilities, and will be stuck to execution for the rest of your career.

Wrapping up

Constructive feedback is integral to organizational success. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Always use facts and examples to deliver constructive feedback
  • Don’t forget to differentiate between positive and constructive feedback
  • Make sure you have practical tips or suggestions 
  • Leverage specific constructive feedback examples for specific performance problems, instead of being vague

Related Reading

50 top 360 degree feedback question examples

150 performance review phrases

min read

How to Use Performance Management Cycle for High Performance Teams

While performance management has been a key priority for organizations, for a long time, year end reviews were considered to be the most effective way to facilitate the same. However, recently organizations are observing a shift towards continuous performance management with an introduction of the performance management cycle. This article will focus on different aspects of the performance management cycle and how it enables unlocking the potential of high performance teams. 

What is a performance management cycle?

Before going into the diverse aspects, you should first understand what a performance management cycle essentially is. If you have an idea of what continuous performance management is, you’re already a step ahead in the understanding. Performance management cycle primarily is a way or a model in which you evaluate or focus on the performance of your employees throughout the year. The idea is to break down the different elements of employee performance into different stages and focus on them consistently. It starts with setting goals and ends with rewards for a job well done, which leads to setting of new goals and the performance management cycle resets.  

Understanding 4 stages of the performance management cycle

While you may want to divide your performance management cycle into any number of stages, mostly there are four stages. 


The first stage, at the very beginning of the performance management cycle, focuses on creating a plan for the performance ahead. The idea is to have a clear understanding on what your employee must achieve and how you will eventually review and evaluate them. During the planning stage, you and your team member, collectively should:

  • Set SMART goals of OKRs based on the performance expectations
  • Have clear KPIs or metrics which you will use for performance appraisal
  • Clarify how individual goals or OKRs contribute to organizational vision

Thus, the planning stage of the performance management cycle sets the tone for the year ahead and ensures there is clarity at all levels. 


Once the goals have been set in the planning stage, you enter the monitoring stage of the performance management cycle. This stage essentially focuses on ensuring that things are moving as planned. The idea is to ascertain that your team members are more or less on track for specific milestones outlined as a part of goal setting. Additionally, this stage will help you address any performance challenges that you may observe, sooner than later. Monitoring stage includes:

  • Regular one-on-one meetings to review performance so far
  • Providing feedback to your team members on what you think has been going well and what needs to improve
  • Relooking at goals in case they are behind or ahead of schedule in terms of achievement
  • Understanding the kind of extra support or resources your team members might need to improve their performance
  • Having candid conversations with your employees on wellbeing, professional development objectives, and other factors which may impact performance, morale and engagement 

The monitoring stage essentially focuses on tracking the performance of your employees against the set goals to provide constructive feedback and help them perform better. 


The third stage of the performance management cycle comes into existence towards the end. It involves reviewing the performance and providing ratings based on the established KPIs and metrics. While this is the formal review process, if you have been constantly monitoring the performance of your employees, this will essentially be a consolidation of all the reviews and feedback shared overtime. While delivering performance reviews, ensure that you:

  • Shed any performance review biases that might come your way, including primacy effect, recency bias, halo/horns effect, etc. 
  • Give your employees concrete examples and facts to support your review, rather than being vague and ambiguous
  • Should try to get 360 degree feedback and review for your team members
  • Answer some of the following questions to create an informed review:
  1. Did the employee achieve the goals set out?
  2. What were the key enablers in their achievement?
  3. Did you observe growth in the employee during the performance management cycle?
  4. Did the employee share any concerns, and were they addressed?

Since you have been connecting regularly with your employees, the reviews will not come as a surprise to them, but will help you monitor the trends of their performance and guide the next stage for the employee’s professional growth. 


Finally, the rewarding stage in the performance management cycle acts as a culmination to one cycle and sets stage for the commencement of the next. The objective is to take into account their performance over the performance management cycle and create a culture of rewards and recognition to celebrate and appreciate high performance. Some of the quick ways to reward your employees include, giving them:

  • Healthy increments and promotions
  • Public appreciation through social media, company intranet
  • Bonuses and other incentives
  • Rewards like vouchers, gifts, etc. 

This stage is important to make your employees feel valued and motivate them to keep the performance going. It will also push average performers to step up their efforts and enable you to create a high performance culture. 

Why is a performance management cycle important?

Now that you understand the various stages of a performance management cycle, let’s quickly look at why the performance management cycle is important for your organization. It will help you:

  • Clearly define goals and expectations from your employees to drive directed performance.
  • Keep your employees engaged. When you constantly connect with your employees for 1-o-1 meetings and consistently take interest in their performance improvement, they are likely to feel engaged, satisfied and motivated.
  • Address performance challenges preemptively and provide your employees with corrective actions, resources and support to bridge performance issues.
  • Retain talent as employees who feel that their performance is being valued and receive regular feedback tend to stay longer at an organization. 

Top 4 ways in which performance management cycle leads to high performance

In addition to the above mentioned benefits, a performance management cycle can help you build a high performance culture in a number of ways. Some of the top aspects include:

Clarifies KPIs and metrics

What constitutes high performance can be abstract. For some, closing 5 deals can be high performance, for others, it might be closing 15. Planning stage in the performance management lifecycle will help your employees understand what constitutes high performance and thus, proceed towards it. 

Boosts recognition

A key part of the performance management cycle is the rewards and recognition. When employees feel their performance is being valued and recognized, they tend to double up their efforts, leading to a high performance team.

Facilitates communication and feedback

Monitoring and tracking followed by 1-o-1 conversations can help you communicate with your employees regularly. Not only will you track their performance, but will also listen to their concerns or challenges and offer them feedback. Such conversations and feedback have a positive impact on performance, leading to a high performance culture. 

Ensures appropriate training

One of the foundations of high performance is enabling your team members to undergo the right training. Performance management cycle can help you understand which training is important for your employees at which performance stage, realizing high quality results. 

Top tips for managers for effective performance management cycle

As a manager, there are several ways in which you can unlock the true potential of a performance management cycle. You are one of the key stakeholders who plays an important role in every stage of the cycle. Here are a few tips that can help you augment the effectiveness of the performance management cycle:

  • Invite employee participation and make the OKR setting process collaborative and action oriented
  • Provide constructive feedback to your employees, instead of being too sweet or too negative
  • Help your employees access the right resources and training they need to meet their goals
  • Give your employees a safe space to share their concerns and challenges
  • Don’t micromanage your employees in the name of monitoring
  • Be open about relooking at the goals in case of a misalignment as you move along the performance management cycle

Benefits of using a performance management tool

A performance management tool can significantly help you streamline your performance management cycle by offering the following benefits. 

Performance snapshots

Get automated performance snapshots of your employee’s performance over the 9 box grid to track performance trends over time and provide reviews without recency bias.

1:1 conversations

Leverage guided templates with AI based suggestions for your 1:1 conversations with employees during the monitoring stage based on performance over time. Receive suggested talking points for goal-centered conversations.

Compare performance

Look at historic feedback to see improvement in performance and compare performance over time. You can also compare performance of peers over specific parameters. 

Related Reading

How to create a high performance culture using OKRs

7 steps to effective performance management system

12 common performance review biases to avoid

Ready to get started?
Speak to our team today

Book Demo