5 mistakes we see regularly with Probationary Period

 In Managing Performance and Productivity

Of course, both parties in a hiring situation hope for the best:

That is…the new employee will love their job and fit well with the rest of the team AND that they are an amazing asset to the business who adds loads of value to the company quickly.

The truth is, unfortunately, it isn’t always a happy ending but it doesn’t have to be a negative process if managed correctly.

The Probationary Period is in place to determine if both the new employee loves your Company and if they are a great fit for your company, team and position.

Read on to see the top problems we regularly see with probation periods…

1. Employers let the probation slide without regular check-ins

We all know that time flies, especially in the whirl of managing a business, as well as your personal life.

But you must also ensure you regularly check in with new staff, especially during the early probation period, to get a feel for how they are settling in.

This gives new employees the opportunity to understand what they are doing well as well as potentially focus on other areas if necessary. Where possible, try and provide clear and specific feedback to focus on.

Similarly, this will also give you a heads up on how likely they are to stay. Remember, the most versatile time within a new team member’s employment is in the first 6 months for both parties so if you don’t want their departure to be a total surprise, you need to check in and ask for feedback.

2. Not clearly defining expectations

It’s really hard to start a new job, as everyone knows. There is a lot to take in.

One role in one company is not the same in another company.

It’s even harder if no one precisely explains what to do, what is important to focus on first and what they will be measured against.

Think about clearly articulating for you to feel that you have made the best decision ever, what has this person done or delivered?

Without a certain set of parameters, employees are certainly more likely to fail and get stuck in the ‘business rat race’ or trying to understand everything.

Defining these expectations are for both yourself and new team members to know if they are on track and delivering (which by the way, is a major part of their motivation).

3. No QA (Quality Assurance) of their work

Feedback and continual review is even more critical when someone starts in your business.

This isn’t only important from the perspective of the quality of their work but also in terms of their efficiency and how they are carrying out their work. Sometimes, new employee’s speed of delivery can be way below others (if they are doing things in the wrong order for example). Especially while they are getting to know the lay of the land. However, sometimes they can approach work in a different way which could be a positive game-changer for others to follow and learn from.

The point is, make sure you are checking both the quality and quantity of their work to manage workload and capacity and are jumping in quickly if you are overloading them.

4. Not explaining what a probationary period is (or how long it may be)

If your employment contract does not provide clearly defined probation period details, new team members may not be aware of what it means or what it really is. Generally, most contracts are for between 3 and 6 months.

This makes it all the harder if you have to sit down to talk about employment concerns or frustrations and they don’t really understand what the consequences are.

And if you decide to discontinue that person’s employment?  Oh no…not fun for anyone.

When someone starts, setting up clear expectations of what you love to see and don’t love to see as well as their individual position success factors is critical it setting new team members up for success. We generally recommend this at one week, four weeks, three months, and five months (if a 6 month probation).

We also recommend being transparent and making team members feel safe to come forward if they don’t believe it is a good fit for them. It is in everyone’s interest to call this early if team members generally don’t feel like it is a good fit and they can be successful. In addition, this also provides the employer with the opportunity to turn this around is possible so it is win-win all around.

5. Wait until the end of the probationary period to decide to spend time with employees (or provide any feedback)

Some employers take the view that they will wait to see if they pass probation first before investing significant time and development into people.

This is fundamentally flawed if you think about the amount of time it takes to find someone and onboard them to your business.

It also provides minimal time for new team members to change or correct their behaviours reducing the possibility of success.

Make sure you plan to spend time with your new recruit to ensure their success or it will be like the luck of the draw if they end up being a rockstar or not.

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Paulette Kolarz

Customer Support

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