In The Workplace

Our department head sent me a schedule of what to improve in my work performance days after giving me a failing mark in my annual appraisal form. The PIP includes specific targets, standards, and a timetable and I was given only two months to improve my performance. Is it the right time to resign or do my best under the circumstances? — Polka Dots.

Many people live their lives like the high-rise construction worker who was carelessly walking on an upper beam without a safety harness. One day, he accidentally fell off. As he was falling, a man on the 21st floor cried out loud: “What’s happening? How are you doing?” The man in his usual boastful ways replied: “So far, so good!”

Just like our devil-may-care construction worker in this story, regular workers tend to slack off until judgment day when they’re issued a formal, detailed warning about their poor work performance. When this happens, that means management is serious about everything and is following the rules on due process before one is dismissed from employment. Usually, it’s being done through the issuance of a PIP (performance improvement plan). It’s like being sent back to probationary status.

But what’s wrong with your own PIP? An ordinary PIP carries with it the usual three-month re-trial period, just like when you were on probation before but on a shorter time scale. Sometimes, generous benevolent management extend it to six months, depending on your human resources policy. However, if your management insists on a two-month plan, it means they can’t wait any longer. It’s either you shape up or ship out at the soonest possible time.

Therefore, only you who can answer your own question. Do you have the energy or motivation to move mountains in two months? Or do you have many options to consider other than your current employer? If not, then better to reassess your plan that may include refurbishing your curriculum vitae and start looking for another job elsewhere, if not consider starting a business.

A performance appraisal is often viewed as a difficult exercise for both the boss and his people. It becomes doubly difficult when a PIP is issued and becomes your Damocles Sword. At times, you can’t avoid the emotional part of it all. It’s tricky. That’s because you can’t simply summarize with few check marks or brief sentences the specific performance of people. With this in mind, the following considerations may help you assess your chances of dealing with your PIP:

One, don’t be deceived by the formality of the PIP. You’re being placed on PIP to make one’s termination of employment legally compliant. Chances are, and in real work life situation, your boss may have already made up his mind to keep you out of the organization. This means, no matter what you do, even if you think you’re capable of turning the tables by doing your best, a dissatisfied boss will always be dissatisfied and out to make it difficult for you to recover.

Why not? If your boss cares about you, he should have called your attention a long time ago and not at the end of the annual performance review cycle, when you may have little margin of wiggling out of the situation. If he truly cares about your career goals, he should have coached you through a periodic one-on-one counseling, if not arrange for a frequent supervision meeting or, much better, asking you what resources you need to improve your work.

Two, look back to discover how you may have crossed your boss. It could be that you may have said something bad about your boss to some purported friends within the organization who reported your back-stabbing to him. In the corporate rat race, everything is possible especially for some people who are interested in taking over your position through unethical means.

If your boss discovers your disloyalty, then that could be the end for you. The boss may not even confront you to discover the truth, but simply accept the negative report. He may not even bother to study the “root causes” of it all. While we expect some form of objectivity from anyone at the management level, you can’t expect much from a biased boss.

Last, consider asking management for a safety net. If you decide that resignation is the best option for you, appeal to the goodness of their hearts by asking for a monetary assistance to help you and your family tide over. To my mind, the reasonable amount is equivalent to three months of one’s basic pay. Also, seek for a tax-free monetary assistance, if possible. In addition, seek for an early effective date of your resignation, so you can start exploring other jobs elsewhere.

Whatever happens, don’t burn the bridge. Keep communications lines open and remain positive and upbeat. It’s difficult, but that’s the only thing you can do under the circumstances. If you’re looking for a new job, the next best thing is for you is to protect the integrity of your employment history and your relationship with your boss, no matter how shaky it has become.

Bringing back the good old days is difficult, if not impossible. The past is past. If you’ve committed a mistake or many mistakes in your work performance or relationship with people, including your boss, then there’s no point in wallowing in misery. Let go of the past. Start living your life to the fullest by actively looking of what’s in store for you in the future. Look at the future with a fresh set of eyes.

Read many inspirational stories to keep you moving. Do a lot of networking, either on social media or through eyeball-to-eyeball meetings. Just keep on moving without necessarily spending so much money. Your course of action depends much on your current personal circumstances, like your age or whether you’re single or married with kids of school age. Whatever your status in life, there are always new opportunities that you have to discover somewhere. That is, if you care to move on without anger in your heart.

ELBONOMICS: The best place to start anew is where you’re currently seated.


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