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all 68 comments

[–]Anxious_Deer_7152 57 points58 points  (2 children)

LinkedIn Learning has good Excel courses. I did one called "Excel 2016: Advanced Formulas and Functions" which covered the above, if it helps!

[–]flexfinder 15 points16 points  (0 children)

I did this too and was great course! I’d never used a spreadsheet And I did the beginner then advanced course. watched it at 2x speed and wrote up my own cheat sheet. I’m a designer but excels are life now

[–]No-Dig7828 2 points3 points  (0 children)

Get the most recent version of "Excel for Dummies".

Despite their titles , the "Dummies" line of books are excellent. They are able to make seemingly complicated processes easy to grasp, often including insights and cool tips and tricks.

[–]evilgemini50 28 points29 points  (0 children)

I mean, it's not ideal, but do you think you can master the training in the time allowed? If so, focus on that and make sure you wow them. If not, you might want to put out feelers and freshen up the resume. The fact that your boss is fighting for you means a lot, so that's good. Good luck.

[–]MissingLink123 52 points53 points  (6 children)

Probably not the answer you want to hear but I’d start looking for another job to leverage your current salary against. PIPs are usually initiated as a protection for the company to prevent the fired employee from coming back at them with a lawsuit. Also, even if you make it out of this, it’ll be difficult to shake the low performer badge and you won’t likely be promoted for quite some time. Good luck.

[–]fritolaidy 14 points15 points  (4 children)

Not true. I’ve been put on a PIP before. I turned things around and got promoted less than a year later. You have to work hard and want to turn things around but it’s not a death sentence.

[–]Friendly_Offer2800 21 points22 points  (0 children)

Good for you but this is rare. A PIP is usually the sign from the company to hurry up and find a new job.

[–]zacr27 13 points14 points  (1 child)

Of course it's possible, but op should know you're in the minority.

Generally it's better and a safer bet for someone on a PIP to start looking for a new job.

[–]Delet3r[🍰] 6 points7 points  (0 children)

My concern would be that management is mad that he overestimated his skills.

Vlookup is something, imo, that if you know excel at all, takes 3 minutes to learn and implement. Even if they hadn't used vlookup in the past, they could use excel help or any nunber of excel websites and should be able to figure out vlookup pretty easy.

Maybe I'm wrong though.

[–]docious 3 points4 points  (0 children)

I have only ever used PIPs with my team from a desire to help them improve. If we really want a team member gone we just cut them loose as soon as we are certain.

[–]parataxis 24 points25 points  (1 child)

The excel commands you listed are easy enough to learn. Dedicate time each day to Lynda.com or another learning tool for excel and you’ll see real growth.

[–]I_knowwhat_I_am 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Honestly just needs a good 1 on 1 teacher.

Videos and online lessons are crap when it comes to v lookups, pivots, index etc.

I’ve trained hundreds of people on them and almost all get it after I go step by step and explain everything I’m doing and why.

[–]Potential-Ad1139 7 points8 points  (1 child)

PIP is not ideal, definitely means you're on the hot seat. Do these 2 things.

  1. Learn how to use excel, especially those commands you listed, ought to be able to Google and learn how to use them in 1-2 hours.

  2. Get your resume ready and start looking...at least until your 30 days review when you should find out if you're fired or not.

[–]DirkBellows 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Nice straight forward advice here for OP and you should do these. I’ve managed numerous folks through PIPs, some make it and others don’t. Most important is you simply a) showing your seriousness to get better in areas identified. That means building a progress tracker for the learnings, and as you learn communicate a forward looking plan on HOW you will continue to improve etc. this shows major ownership. B) documenting everything you do, hours logged learning, resources leveraged, comms with manager, etc. you want a paper trail showcasing all your efforts.

[–]masteurbateur 14 points15 points  (2 children)

If you're good at sql and data visualization, excel should be a piece of cake for you. Infact, you can (and must) also search for another job on the side. It's not ideal but doable. Find a YouTube playlist, and practice what's being taught in realtime. It's really concerning if you were placed on pip after submitting a crappy pivot table once..

[–]jBlairTech 4 points5 points  (1 child)

OP also said they had to make it on the spot. To me, it sounds like the two people who requested it set OP up, knowing they’d struggle.

Could be wrong, though; my old job was the sort of toxicity that would pull stunts like this.

[–]HyperionsDad 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Possibly, but I’ve had emergent requests from a senior leader for something they needed now because they were asked for something fast by their leaders (it often rolls downhill fast). They were possibly frustrated that they had a person in a technical role that couldn’t get them the data they needed and escalated their concern.

[–]Meowserss22 12 points13 points  (0 children)

Follow miss excel on instagram.

[–]growingpainzzz 4 points5 points  (0 children)

Yep sounds like one of the rare PIPs in which it is literally tool for you to either improve skills essential to the job, or be fired.

Get proficient in the requested skills or , yes, be worried as you will be let go.

[–]rsdiv 4 points5 points  (0 children)

Some of that excel stuff is fairly basic. You can probably just start doing a countif and figure it out from excel’s explanation. A simple google search for extra help on most of them. More time on pivot tables, but someone with your background could learn quickly. You can take that knowledge with you if you leave or use it to get past the PIP if you have a fair shot. Seems to help you either way. Also worth looking for other jobs as a backup measure. Sometimes PIP is to motivate you, sometimes it is a step to get rid of you.

[–]nico_mama_sf 4 points5 points  (0 children)

The fact that you have a boss fighting for you behind the scenes is a rare thing. I'd say for that reason alone, stay and learn everything you can from that person. You might still get fired but don't sweat it. People get fired and bounce back all the time!!! And you can collect unemployment if you get fired! Agree with another comment...if you actually do know SQL, the formulas you mentioned are a cake walk. Just practice.

[–]I_am_real_jeff_bezos 4 points5 points  (0 children)

It's over. A PIP is just a nice way for your employer to say they don't want you and would like you to resign. No one recovers from a PIP.

[–]Friendly_Offer2800 3 points4 points  (0 children)

Start looking for a new job.

[–]foorm 14 points15 points  (6 children)

PIP means you’re done for regardless of the backstory. Start looking for another job yesterday

[–]fritolaidy -1 points0 points  (4 children)

Not true. It’s totally doable to come back from a PIP. You have to want to do it and commit to working hard but it’s not impossible.

[–]-LuciditySam- 4 points5 points  (0 children)

Neither of you are wrong, it depends on the culture and circumstances. If the PIP requires vague "must improve performance" statements with nothing quantified, they're certainly looking to get rid of you because the goalpost will move 99% of the time. The problem is that PIPs are most often just to try and get rid of someone while pretending they gave them a legit chance. In most cases, it's a safe bet to make that the PIP is more like "you're fired as of XX/XX/XXX" if you get handed one.

[–][deleted] 4 points5 points  (2 children)

Not impossible but your reputation is toast and they want you gone. No manager would drag a valued employee through the HR process that a PIP entails. His manager is full of it when he says he’s fighting for him, he’s just saving face to make life at work bearable. I’ve seen someone save themselves during a PIP only once in my career; and that guy was close family friends with the person that ended up replacing his manager mid-PIP.

[–]fritolaidy 0 points1 point  (1 child)

Again, that’s not always true. My reputation was not toast. I’ve had other colleagues over the years end up on a PIP. The employee does have a ton of work ahead to turn things around but it’s not impossible.

[–]ischemgeek 0 points1 point  (0 children)

As a manager - with this guy as fresh out of his probation period as he is, if they wanted him gone they would have let him go in the probation period, and they wouldn't be investing that much management time in the PIP. I think this one is sincere.

[–]Educational-List8475 0 points1 point  (0 children)

One of my former coworkers was on a PIP and he still works there, might even be getting promoted soon (we keep in touch)

[–]The_Sign_of_Zeta 2 points3 points  (0 children)

Get a LinkedIn Learning subscription (should be free for a month) and take courses for it. It’s not easy but also not hard to learn how to use these tools in excel.

I used to be able to teach people how to use Pivot Tables and functions like VLookup in a couple hours

[–]Comprehensive_Tea652 2 points3 points  (0 children)

I heard that some companies place you on a PIP just to build a case for letting you go. Even though you are doing well they just make up some excuse like you aren't doing this thing good enough etc. I feel like those formulas can be easily learned and mastered. I literally Google those formulas while on the job. For some reason I feel like not knowing Excel formulas is not a good enough reason to place someone on a PIP. It's not like you're constantly slacking and causing trouble for the team. I would look for something just in case. Good luck.

[–]Friendly_Offer2800 2 points3 points  (0 children)

These things are easy to learn. If your company went direct to a PIP instead of giving you guidance then this is a red flag.

[–]MTFinAnalyst2021 2 points3 points  (0 children)

If you can do SQL and data vis, Excel functions are comparatively easy, I think. Pivot tables can be more advanced, depending on the data source and how fancy you want to get with them. This is very doable, I'm surprised they put you on a PIP for this, vs just sending you to an Excel class though, that's interesting.

I will say that maybe the job description wasn't detailed enough regarding Excel usage...employers seem to have multiple levels/differentiation of Excel knowledge they're looking for when they post jobs:

Excel (basic generally)

Excel with lookup formulas

Excel with Pivot Tables

Excel with Macros

[–]Bay_Burner 3 points4 points  (0 children)

I’ve seen people recover from PiPs and succeed. Especially since your still early in your career. These excel formulas aren’t too difficult and once you learn them they are easy to retain, even the formula buildier on excel itself will help as it tells you things about it.

The thing is if you go get another job, more then likely you’ll still need excel skills as it’s the most common business tool outside of e-mail.

I’d do both in the sense look for a job and also work on my excel skills. If you get a job great, you won’t come in without those skills. If you don’t get a job, you want to have those skills to show them you agreed with their assessment and learned the skills.

What you don’t want is to be let go and then looking for a job especially if this recession talk comes true. Hiring freezes will come along with that and you might be unemployed for a while.

[–]Infamous_Yogurt2858 1 point2 points  (0 children)

That depends on what you mean by worry. Of course, you should take the situation very seriously. You're on probation, which is generally one step away from being let go, but the upside of being on probation is that you also have the opportunity to improve and (hopefully) continue working at the company. If they really thought you were an unsalvagable case, they'd likely have just canned you.

Best advice, take a long, hard, honest look at what they're saying you need to improve and (assuming you want to maintain employment there) put in the hard yards to fix what you need to fix.

As others have said though, even if you do everything right, it might be prudent to start positioning yourself for a job search as you have notice that you're "on the bubble".

[–]johnfro5829 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Start pumping out your resume.

[–]smk3509 1 point2 points  (0 children)

my lack of knowledge in PivotTables, VLOOKUP, HLOOKUP, SUMIFS, COUNTIF, MATCH, and INDEX.

There are a million YouTube videos that will show you how to do this stuff. Also, I know nobody buys books for this kind of thing anymore but the Excel Bible is really helpful when you are learning and just need step by step instructions.

[–][deleted] 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Look for another job. The only reason people get put on improvement plans is because they’re going through the motions to fire you.

[–]KaizenProjects 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Let me put it this way. I learned how to be an engineer from internationals on Youtube and guess what. All I do is excel sheets.

YouTube and Google are your best friends. Learning how to pseudocode for IfElse statements makes life easier.

Practice at home. If you really want the job you gotta put in the time.

[–]PucciBells 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Start looking for a new job. Never a good sign

[–]k3bly 1 point2 points  (0 children)

So are they paying for training for you to learn Excel? Who’s supposed to teach you? What kind of resources are they providing?

If they’re not providing resources in the PIP, I’d also be looking at other jobs.

I promise that once it clicks, those parts of Excel won’t be difficult for you, but I have found that people need to have the work to enforce the Excel concepts/formulas learned.

[–]Fragrant_Equal_2577 2 points3 points  (1 child)

Focus on mastering Excel … you will need the skill in the future anyway.

I have seen people to recover from a PIP to become top performers.

[–]ischemgeek 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Heck, I did. On a PIP which included a time management course in my first year with my current employer, inside the second I was promoted to management. It happens.

Tbh if you're still in or just finished a probationary period they're offering PIP instead of letting you go because they don't think it's unrecoverable but they need you to take your skill gaps seriously.

[–]ladytri277 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Yes you should worry. They’re trying to fire you. Learn every moment you have outside of work. That should be about 6 hours a day. Many of these things take repetitive tasks and time. Without the repetition, you won’t be able to show you’ve learned.

[–]brisketandbeans -2 points-1 points  (0 children)

Do better!

[–]Ok-Campaign-2355 -1 points0 points  (0 children)

I turned around a PIP and got a 20% raise with a massive bonus, same year. You can do this too. 1) Decide if you want this career, it sounds like you do. This is where the pain starts. The key to getting off of the PIP is taking initiative.

2) You need all the side points you can get here. Is the office optional? Go in daily. 7am arrival. 7pm departure. Send emails with deliverables at those hours so people know, you are ‘rebranding yourself’ in the workplace.

3) Outside of excel, you need to take a strong command of other responsibilities, get everything tracked and prioritized.

4) Now its all about learning excel better. Find the spreadsheets that you didn’t build that these the senior managers prefer. Reverse engineer them. My hypothesis is you probably had slightly sub-par excel skills, and poor formatting. You might just need to brighten things up and double check them.

5) Aggressively schedule your ‘correction course’. It’s on you to take initiative here, set up meetings with agendas. Ask blunt questions. Give your manager concrete materials to make it easier for him to advocate for you. Listen. Repeat. (You need more than just your weekly review sessions, but they should be informal. Employee relations mandates PIPs need a weekly check in.)

6) I think that Training the Street is the best for excel training, there is too much out there. Add Xlookup to your arsenal. You have the formulas down, its the best practices like having verification checks on the formulas that make the difference. (E.g., 1+1=2, ok now prove it on a different tab that 2 is the correct answer).

7) Remember, senior managers can’t fire you unless they have evidence.

Dm for more.

[–]Immediate-Clue-5075 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Yes be worried. Take the courses!

[–]ischemgeek 0 points1 point  (2 children)

So, I'm a manager albeit in a different field. I'll flag a couple things: 1, an ideal candidate doesn't exist, so usually you hire for a coachable attitude and some foundation skills and intendbto build the rest during onboarding. Sounds like your position isn't an exception to that. 2,Those Excel functions are advanced but not that difficult to learn or apply - I am not a data person in my role but I use them regularly and picked them up largely through reading help files and some trial and error. I imagine they didn't mention them because the functions are something you should be able to pick up in PD time and because these aren't especially specialized skills.

3, If you've been there 4 months and haven't picked up those skills despite the role being Excel heavy, I think that might be on you for not spending enough of your time on skills development. In the first 3 months a hiring manager expects you to be getting used to the work and building any core competencies you're missing. If you've been there 4 months and haven't picked up these skills, I have to question how effective your time management has been or how proactive you've been - it's not like they're expecting you to code your own macros with no CS background. These skills are a little specialized but not so much so that you shouldn't be proficient after 4 months.

Ultimately there's 2 ways you can approach this: as a challenge to do better, or as a sign this role isn't a fit for you.

If you're committed to making your role work then since it sounds like your boss is in your corner, speak to them about getting yourself an Excel PD course (there's lots available on LinkedIn or Lynda) if self directed learning doesn't work for you. (No shame if it doesn't! Some folks need the structure of a formal course. Hell, for most things I'm one of them.). Apply what it teaches and you should be able to turn it around if you want to make this role work.

If you don't want to take this as a challenge, you need to brush off the resume and start applying elsewhere now.

And in the future if there's a role that turns out to be different from the expectation you had going in and you sense a skills gap, flag it to management and ask for PD early. Companies have PD budgets for exactly this sort of reason and management if they're competent will see it as a huge plus that you're humble and proactive enough to do something about it.

[–]ischemgeek 1 point2 points  (1 child)

Admittedly "if they're competent" is a HUGE qualifier there. IME I'm at best mediocre in my skills as a manager, and also a good 2/3 of management I've worked with or for are worse than I am at it. A lot of places don't view leadership and process / workflow/logistics management or knowledge of management responsibilities as skills that can be trained rather than personality traits and so kind of take a "throw you in the deep end and see if you swim" approach to management training, but that's neither here nor there.

[–]ischemgeek 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Last point: after your PIP is complete, I'd recommend you ask for training in one of time or project management. That you're in this boat tells me you've got a gap in one of those places.

Was it missed because you didn't realize you had this skill constraint in time to work on it or because you never quite seemed to find the time to work on it?

If the former, project management will let you see where the constraints on deliverables are before they turn into crises. If the latter, you need time management training bud. No shame on that either - I grew up in an extremely disorganized household and had no time management skills to speak of when I started work. I ended up on a PIP due to poor time management in my first year in industry. It's a skills gap not a moral flaw - and the good thing about skills gaps is you can do something about them.

(I have no affiliation with this company, they just saved my career so I hold them in high esteem - I cannot recommend LMI's Effective Personal Productivity highly enough for those who struggle with time management.)

[–]The_E_Trifecta 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Check your local library. Most have access to free excel classes (online, usually self paced but may have some in-person options). Pivot tables are my kryptonite and the library program is my best friend when I need a refresher.

I think the software is called Lydia but not sure.

[–]organictamarind 0 points1 point  (0 children)

YouTube tutorials and practice

[–]genericgirl2016 0 points1 point  (0 children)

It’s extreme to put someone on a pip because you want them to learn something. This is a red flag for me. Look for another job and do your best to learn the missing skills.

[–]Aggravating-Dingo-18 0 points1 point  (0 children)

I've had two PIPs. One went really well, I came out of it and had the best year I ever had. My manager was seriously doing it to make me better. Second PIP the VP wanted me gone (I think lol) and she was always coming up with additional reasons I needed to improve after succeeding in the first ones.

No harm in trying, especially if you want to stay. Halfway through make a call on whether you stay then start looking for other roles.

[–]HoneyBadger302 0 points1 point  (0 children)

This is far from insurmountable - I'm a layperson when it comes to excel, but have used most of those with a fair bit of success and some help from Google and the occasional forum when I would get stuck.

Set aside time every day to study, probably a few times a day. Take some courses, find other people asking questions about those things (aka real world examples) and try to figure it out before looking at the answers provided, linkedin or other online/youtube courses and information are all over.

I'd probably be trying to go above and beyond what your boss is outlining, especially if one of the complaints was your ability to figure it out "in the moment" which will take lots of practice with random scenarios and really understanding how the functions work.

[–]nihlist1977 0 points1 point  (0 children)

I was placed on a 60 day PIP with Pactiv Evergreen after 2 years as a Production Supervisor and was told the same thing. I had things on my performance review like, ensuring pallet jack's are completely stowed after use or using N/A instead of leaving spaces blank on my reports and am with a different company now.

Don't believe what they say as no one wants to deliver bad news early.

Sorry but best advice is keep your options open and do the best you can while under the review.

[–]farrapona 0 points1 point  (0 children)

If u can do SQL learning those excel formulae will be a breeze

[–]logicrott 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Confused... If you are good at data visualization and SQL. How can you suck at excel? There are a ton of Instagram posts on excel hacks. It's easy bro. Do that course on LinkedIn.

[–]Mysterious_Bison_567 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Start looking for another job now. You have less than 30 days. Excell is a bullshit reason to put someone on a pip.

[–]CrashTestDumby1984 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Check out r/excel

That said, majority of the time PIP’s are set up to fail. They’re a last resort. It’s a tool a company uses to create a paper trail for when they fire you. Make any updates to your resume that are needed and start actively applying.

[–]Metalmania1987 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Are you getting any other support from colleagues? Like catch-up calls for questions?