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How to make a probation period a success

1. Set clear objectives

If an employee is unclear about their job role, they’re already off to a bad start. You need to provide a detailed job description. If they have targets or key performance indicators (KPIs), make sure they know what these are and have everything they need to achieve them. Goals should be achievable and fair. If they’re too difficult, employees will become demoralised. If they’re too easy, future targets may seem unachievable by comparison.

2. Have a handover

If an incoming employee is taking over from an exiting employee, a good handover is crucial. This will help the new staff member understand the role and set realistic expectations. Ideally, the new employee would sit down with the old employee and go through the day-to-day responsibilities of the role with them. If this isn’t possible, they should at least provide a handover document explaining the duties of the job and best practice.

3. Training & mentoring

Even if the new employee has experience in their field, they can benefit from training and mentoring. They might be unfamiliar with the software systems you use, or need a refresher on a certain skill. Check in with the staff member at the beginning of their employment to see what training would be suitable for them. Once this has been decided, implement the training (externally or internally) and regularly check their progress.

4. Conduct regular meetings

Weekly and monthly check ins are good for tracking progression and how they are settling in. one-to-one meetings allow employees to raise concerns and give honest feedback on their experience so far. You can review key goals and manage performance. Failing to check in regularly means you can lose track of their progression and they can become withdrawn. How frequently you check in will depend on the role, but a monthly meeting should be the bare minimum.

5. Extend the probation if needed

It is legal to extend a probationary period if you feel the employee hasn’t quite proved themselves. Often, this can be the motivator they need to improve. Make sure you hold a meeting to inform the employee that you intend to extend their probation. In this meeting, discuss what you expect to change or improve over the following months. This gives them a concrete goal to work towards and a performance indicator for you to make decisions by.

Expert support with probationary periods

There are many methods and strategies to ensure a probation period is a success. Open communication and clear goals are key. Plus, don’t be afraid to provide critical feedback and extend the period if necessary.

If you require further support, you can contract one of our expert HR advisors today on 0800 470 2854.