How To Effectively Manage New Employee Probation Periods

We all know that organisations put a lot of time and effort into the recruitment and selection of staff.

They may well do an okay job with the initial induction too, although this can be variable.

But what about managing people through the probation period?

The length of a probation period can vary but typically is around 3 months.

After that point, subject to satisfactory performance, employees are confirmed as permanent employees and given notice to that effect.

The probation period can be challenging for both employee and employer.

So how can you effectively manage the probation period for new employees?

Tip 1: Set Some Clear Initial Objectives

It’s easy for someone to join an organisation and be left to figure out what’s expected of them.

To overcome this, set some clear, measurable objectives to be achieved during the probation period.

When doing this be realistic.  There is so much that can be achieved over 3 months.

A handful of objectives that give you a clear idea of whether the employee is going to be right long term is best.

Tip 2: Provide Support

A common mistake I see managers making is the assumption that because someone is qualified and experienced they will just deliver.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

While people have qualifications and experience, every organisation is to some extent unique.

It’s key that you provide the support to new employees to get to know people, culture, processes, systems and style of working among other things.

Tip 3: Do One To One Meetings More Frequently

You may well have established employees who you do one to one meetings with periodically and perhaps not even that frequently.

That probably works for them as they know the organisation, job and ways of working.

For new employees you need more frequent one to one meetings.

These meetings need to be really focused.

Let the new employee know where they are on track in terms of initial objectives.

Talk about the areas where they are falling short.

Work with them to make improvements in areas where they are struggling more.

Be specific when giving the feedback so that there’s clarity.

Produce a note of key points and actions and share it with the employee.

Tip 4: Be Realistic

Starting a new role is tough.

If you have been in your role for a period of time, it’s easy to forget this.

Always think about whether you are being realistic on your expectations of performance.

Be mindful of making unfair comparisons.

In truth as a manager, the process of managing employees through their probation period is really important.  Set aside time to make this as effective as possible and make sure you have a good process.

If you are looking to step into a management role or improve your management skills, check out my low cost Management Essentials E Book

About the Author Duncan Brodie

Since 2006 I’ve worked with in excess of 8,000 accountants and professionals in workshops, seminars and one to one helping them land their next jobs and become better leaders, presenters and business partners. Before that I spent 25 years in accountancy climbing the career ladder from Payments Clerk to FD. I’m a CIMA Fellow, Certified Professional Coach and Team Coach Facilitator.

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