Your employee's probation period is over. It's time to look back on their progress. Their trial was meant to give you time to assess their abilities and their fit in your team. It was also a chance for the staff member to see how they liked their new job and surroundings.
Now it's time for the probation review meeting.
Is there a standard format for the probation meeting?
There are no hard rules for a probation meeting. Each manager will have his or her own way of doing it. Where one manager might give staff long forms to fill out, another boss will prefer to use bullet points or rely on conversation alone to conduct the meeting.
You need to decide what works best for you. Do you want to use forms to lead the review, or are you better in a free format? If you use a probation review meeting form, try to make sure you use the same form for everyone to avoid discrimination.
It’s good practice to book the probation review meeting well before the date. Doing this will keep the date fresh in your mind and the recruit’s, and give you both time to prepare as the day gets closer.
Probation review meeting questions should be open-ended, with you first getting the recruit’s views before weighing in with your assessment as their manager. It’s important that you listen to what they have to say.
It could help you to go over the job description and any old notes you had when you hired the employee, too. If you have issues that you want to raise, make a note of them.
Typical questions will look something like:
1. What are you proudest of during your first months here?
Start with positivity. Many employees will go into this meeting feeling nervous—you can help them to settle down by focusing first on successes. Be sure to highlight where you feel they’ve done well.
2. What areas of your role could you improve?
This is a positive way of asking the reverse of question one. Areas of improvement can form part of their targets for the future.
If you point out areas where they could improve, be sure to give evidence. Be honest and supportive. They might reveal a new reason for a performance issue. You should be ready to offer help where you can.
This question should also lead to agreeing on any further training that the recruit could need—some examples include learning new computer software, improving sales methods, or finding ways to shorten lengthy tasks.
3. What would your goals be for the next six months in your current role?
Turn their areas for improvement into actions that they can begin working towards, and set review dates.
4. Do you have any concerns about your job?
Invite them to share their opinion on their role—has the role met the job advert specification?
Other concerns might include commute times or struggles to fit into the company culture. Be patient and try to suggest ways that they could tackle these issues—have they tried different travel routes? Have they attended a work night out to “let their hair down”?
Should I conduct progress meetings before the probation review meeting?
To stay on top of your recruit’s progress during their trial period, you should conduct regular meetings—once a week is a good amount. These meetings will give you the chance to talk about their progress from the week before, to set targets for the coming week, and discuss any concerns you or they might have. They will also give you an outline for the probation review meeting.
Regular meetings are also a chance to develop better working relationships with staff by showing that their progress and their concerns are important to you.
What should I do next?
Use your notes and their answers from all meetings, as well as evidence of their performance, to reach your decision.
Pass, fail, or extend—whichever outcome you choose, you should let them know at the probation review meeting and confirm it with a letter. You should add this letter to their personal file, as well as a copy—signed by both of you—of their new targets.
By keeping written records, you retain evidence of reviews and the key points discussed, should you ever need them.