So, You’re on a Performance Improvement Plan…Now What?

Surviving and thriving after a PIP

Betsy Boehm Bland
6 min readOct 12, 2021


Imperfections are not inadequacies; they are reminders that we’re all in this together. -Brene Brown

I’ve had many amazing people come to me for support and advice after being put on some form of a "Performance Improvement Plan" or "Coaching Plan." Often, they were in a role that wasn’t a good fit. Maybe they couldn’t hit their stride. Sometimes they were one of the many people caught in the unhealthy dynamic of the set-up-to-fail syndrome. No matter what, it doesn’t have to eat you alive. And you are not alone in navigating the process.

Here is my advice on how to survive — and move on from — a PIP. And, even if you’re not on a PIP or Coaching Plan, I hope you find this helpful in navigating any career setback or lousy job fit.

The Bland Guide to Surviving a PIP

Step 1: Take a few days to feel your feelings.

Yes, this sucks. Unless you're a complete robot, the feelings kicked up by a bad performance review are hard and complicated. Rather than feeling motivated by the critical feedback, we're generally pushed into a fight-or-flight response. As a result, our brains stop working well — we become disengaged and unable to think straight. Add in the higher stakes of a shape-up or ship-out PIP, and we're likely to respond in a way we'll regret later.

Ask for some time off to process.

You probably feel like it's not fair, it's not the whole story, etc. Find some super-duper trustworthy friends (preferably outside of work) and talk through those feelings. Bonus if you find a friend or two who have been through something similar — you will feel less alone and let go of the shame before it pushes you into a bottomless emotional pit.

Write out a heap of post-its with all of these things. Put them in a fire and burn them up. Break some plates. Punch a pillow. Watch Office Space. Try lots of things to emotionally purge. You have to unblock your brain as quickly as possible and avoid getting stuck.

Step 2: Assess the situation.



Betsy Boehm Bland

Product Experience Team Lead and Designer | Mission Driven, User-Focused