How To Cope With Being Put On A Performance Plan

The way you cope with being put on a performance plan will be crucial to the outcome of the plan. A performance plan has 2 potential outcomes: you could be let go of or you could be kept on. Don’t misunderstand the situation; the company would rather keep you on.

No one wants to have to fire anyone, if anything just because of the hassle and paperwork involved. And then they have to start the recruitment process again and getting the right person in could take months. So, if you were able to address the situation, you would be able to stay on.

Why being able to cope with being put on a performance plan is half the battle

The issue when we are put on a performance plan is that we take it personally. I mean it is very personal. You are told you are good enough at your job. That stings a lot. I should know, it happened to me.

In How To Find A Job That Makes You Happier, I share how I was once let go of at the end of a probation period. They were reasons why this role didn’t work out. For once, I took it out of necessity rather than wanting the job. But I was also very fragile emotionally. In the article I explain how my life was turned upside down during those six months.  

But this was not taken into account by mu manager even though she was aware of it. And why should she have done so? At the end of the day, I was hired to do a job. They needed me to do it well and if I couldn’t do so, well…

Now everything that could have gone wrong did. And the minute I was told I was put on a performance plan, I went straight into victim mindset. I had decided that they were going to get rid of me and that I couldn’t do the job. By the way, in normal circumstances, I could have done the job. But these were not normal circumstances.

My mindset was half the reason it all went wrong. I attracted getting fired. I was so anxious and worried about making mistakes that I just made one mistake after the other, convincing myself every day more that I was unable to do the job.

My confidence was destroyed. I actually considered ending my career as a lawyer after that. But I didn’t. I recovered and went on to be a very successful lawyer. Which is why I know what you need to do should you be in this situation. So here it goes.

Heal the wound

The first thing to do is accept the situation and look in the mirror. What happened? What made you drop your performance? Or do you have a new manager who has different expectations? You need to be honest with yourself on this so that you can fix the situation.  

If your performance has dropped because of personal reasons, make it a priority to sort these out as quickly as possible.

Being put on a performance plan will affect your self-worth and confidence. You are only human. So you need to heal that wound straight away otherwise you could get caught in the same downward spiral than I did. And it is not a good place to be.  

As usual I would recommend tapping for self-worth

Assess the situation: why are you on a performance plan?

Once you are feeling better. Listen to what your boss is saying. What is the issue? What needs to be addressed?

If you are enjoying this article, you might enjoy this one too:  15 Habits of Extremely Happy People By Bob Tom

It doesn’t matter what you think. What matters is how your boss perceive the situation. Because it is your boss who will decide the outcome of the performance plan.

So stay strong emotionally. Tap everyday if you need to. And get clear on what is expected of you, and what do you need to achieve to demonstrate to your boss that you are good enough to be kept on and that you can deliver.

Check out my article on 4 Simple Actions To Ace Your Performance Review for details on how to approach the plan itself.  

Get some help

No one said you couldn’t get support. Your boss is being guided by the HR department during this process so why couldn’t you get support too?  

Find a mentor, someone external to the situation, to give you an objective assessment of the situation and coach you throughout the process. You need someone to support you emotionally and encourage you but also to give you sound advice on what to do and not to do. And your manager cannot do that during this process. So get someone else to help you.  


Redress the situation

And then get your head down and deliver. Focus on a positive outcome. Remember that you are doing everything you can to address the situation and succeed. This is the only thing you should be thinking about. Do not think about “what if I lose my job”. This is not going to help you keep it.

Positive thinking here is key. Visualise yourself doing a great job and succeeding. Good to work with a positive attitude, ready to give your best, and behave like you were 100% sure that you would be kept on. This is the best way to actually succeed.

When you manager feels listened to, sees you putting in the efforts and coming in with a positive attitude and no resentment, they will start feeling confident that you are in fact right for the job. Even if you don’t pass every single criteria that they put to you in the performance plan, you will have better chances to stay on if your attitude throughout the process shows a willingness to take feedback and to improve.    

How to cope with being put on a performance plan – key take aways

  1. Accept the situation
  2. Heal the wound
  3. Understand what is asked of you
  4. Get support
  5. Work hard and stay positive

Try these simple hacks and let me know how you get on

Do you have other tips on how to cope with being put on a performance plan? What works well for you? I’d love to hear your stories. Let me know in the comments.

Further resources

Judgement Detox: Release the Beliefs That Hold You Back from Living a Better Life by Gabrielle Bernstein

This article is part of the series Happier At Work, which you can find here.

And remember, happiness is a choice, and you are in charge!

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