Tracey S. Bernstein, Esq


Performance warnings are a commonly used tool by employers to achieve one of several objectives: (i) to motivate an employee to improve; (ii) to justify a termination; (iii) to set up a termination to mask illegal actions; (iv) to retaliate against an employee who has alleged wrongdoing by the company or a manager; and/or (v) to force a resignation.

Regardless of the reason or motivation for the Performance Improvement Plan (also called a PIP), when responding to the warning there are a couple of basic rules to follow:

  • Respond in writing and send it to your manager and Human Resources by e-mail.
  • Respond timely and keep it short and to the point.
  • Open your response on a positive note listing some (but not all) of your accomplishments over the past six to 12 months.
  • Do not respond to every point in the warning.  Pick the ones that objectively, if true, would be problematic.
  • Put aside emotion. Do not make it personal. Your response is not the place to air grievances or illegal acts of your manager.
  • Take some level of responsibility if any of the criticism has merit.  All employees have room for improvement and by acknowledging one or two of your less problematic shortcomings you will gain credibility.
  • End your response on a positive note by saying that although you disagree with a number of the points, you will follow the action plan and work hard to improve.

Always respond in a timely fashion.