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How to crush your performance improvement plan

Ramit Sethi

There are two types of people who stumble onto this page.

Either you love your job and hope to crush your performance improvement plan, so you can rise through the ranks of your company.

Or you really don’t love your job. You’d rather do something else you’re passionate about — where you’re respected, appreciated, and paid better. But for right now, you’ve got to focus on passing your performance improvement plan, since next month’s bills won’t pay themselves.

No matter which boat you’re in, this post can help.

In part 1, you’ll discover how to hit your performance improvement plan out of the park. And set yourself up to not only keep your job but get a raise.

In part 2, I’ll reveal the proven strategies that top performers use to land Dream Jobs — without sending out dozens of resumes.

These tactics have been used by thousands of students to get raises, promotions, and find their Dream Jobs. They can work for you too, regardless of your work experience or where you went to school.


Let’s get started:

Part 1: How to get out of the doghouse and become a top performer at work


dog house

Being put on a performance improvement plan is soul-crushing. It can keep you up at night thinking, “Am I going to get fired? Should I look for another job?”

To be honest, maybe. It’s possible that the performance review plan is only there to cover your boss legally before he boots you out the door.

But it’s also possible that your company is genuinely invested in you and hopes you hit your goals so they can keep you.

Now it goes without saying that it’s important to take your performance improvement plan seriously. There’s zero wiggle room for mistakes and not hitting the goals laid out.

But doing the bare minimum to hit your goals can be dangerous. If you want to give yourself every advantage, here are two things you can do to impress your supervisor:

1. Don’t Go the Extra Mile – Go the Extra Inch
It’s amazing how few salesman read books on selling. Or how few teachers seek out other teachers for tips and advice. Most people simply don’t take the time to become great at their job. They just want to not be fired. And that’s a major advantage for you. You don’t have to do a lot to stand out.

Nothing says “I’m taking this seriously” than doing just a little bit more than everyone else.

A while back, I spoke with Pam Slim, author of Escape from Cubicle Nation, about how to become invaluable at your job. She told me a great story of how she went above-and-beyond to become amazing at her previous job. Here’s what she had to say:

“I would get up really early in the morning and go sit with the traders on the floor. I would see what they did and proactively go to lunch with the most senior people who were great at giving financial advice, who were really like leaders in the industry. Because I was interested and because I, as the training and development director, wanted to really understand what they did to better serve their employees.”

She went out of her way to take experts and co-workers to lunch to pick their brains, knowing she could learn information that would make her better at her job.

This is a great tactic that I highly recommend. I also suggest checking out books and podcasts by industry leaders so you can learn from their years of experience.

Keep in mind: becoming great at your job doesn’t have to be drudgery. If you enjoy what you do, then learning how to do it better can be fun! Especially when you know it will make you invaluable to your company (and worth paying more.)

2. Answer Questions Before They’re Asked

Imagine you’re at work. You think everything’s going great. But then your boss calls you into his office and starts in on everything you’ve done wrong.

Total nightmare. To avoid this, do what top performers do.

First, be proactive and keep your boss or manager updated with where your projects are at. Don’t wait for them to ask. If you know a question is coming soon, give them the answer before he can get the words out.

For example, you can ask your supervisor if he’d like an “End of Day” report where you briefly tell him what you accomplished and what you have planned for tomorrow. It could look something like this:


EOD email

An email like this let’s your supervisor know you’re on track.

As a CEO, I LOVE to open my inbox and see the answers to my questions waiting for me! Especially when it includes the phrase “No response necessary” because it means I’m not stuck with yet another email to respond to.

Second, get in the habit of asking for feedback. Ask your boss how things are going from his perspective and what improvements he’d want to see from you.

This may be uncomfortable at first, but it’s incredibly valuable. Constantly receiving and implementing feedback means you’re getting better at your job every day. This is a skill I look for when hiring and it’s surprisingly rare to find.

How to Get Your Raise
Do all that for a few weeks and your boss is going to love you. Then you can start thinking about asking for a raise. But don’t just go in one day and say, “I want a raise.” That never works.

Instead, use my Briefcase Technique and make it all-but-impossible for your boss to say no. I describe exactly how to do this in the video below:

VIDEO: The Briefcase Technique

Part 2: How to escape to a job you love


love your job

There are some things I could never do well. I could study programming for months, but I’d never be a good programmer. It just doesn’t interest me.

Your situation could be similar. Being put on a performance improvement plan doesn’t make you a bad employee. It may be that this job isn’t the right fit for you. And you’re better off finding a job that challenges you and pays better.

The problem is very few people know how to find a job like that.

We hop on Craigslist or Monster.com, fire off two dozen resumes in a weekend (to jobs we may not even want) then sit back and wait for a reply (which never comes).

Top performers do things differently. They know how to find out exactly what job they want and what company they want to work for.

They’ll even put out feelers to friends and co-workers to stay aware of what opportunities are out there.

Here’s an example from Judd W., an IWT reader, and graduate of my Dream Job program.

“Last year I realized I wanted to switch industries.[Ramit] helped me focus my search, network with insiders at the company I wanted to work with, take my interview skills to the next level, and, when the offer came in, negotiate what I was worth (over 20% more than the initial offer.)”

See? No wasting time on resumes or staring at the computer feeling lost. Judd followed a proven system for finding and landing a dream job and got tangible results.

If you want a peek into the system top performers use to land dream job after dream job (even if you don’t have experience or a fancy degree), enter your name and email below.

I’ll show you a special video on how top performers skip the front of the line and land a dream job that pays them 10%-50% more than they’re making now. And how you can follow that same system to find out what your dream job is, land it, and get paid what you’re worth.

Escape to a job you love

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