Probation review meeting guide for managers

Probation review meeting guide for managers

6 December 2022

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The end of a probation period for an employee can be a great opportunity to build out a future-focused plan. But as an employer, it’s important to make the probation review meeting count. In this blog, we explore all things probation review. From understanding exactly what a probation review meeting is to the questions you should be asking in a review meeting

What is a probation period?

Most contracts of employment contain a probation period which will typically be for 3 or 6 months. The Cambridge University Dictionary defines probation as, “a period of time at the start of a new job when you are watched and tested to see if you are suitable for the job”. Most employers view a probation period as a chance to see how a new employee gets on in their role. They can also see if they have what it takes to be successful in the role if they get on with their colleagues and if they are generally a good fit.

Employees often view a probation period as an opportunity to see if the job and the organisation meet their expectations. They can also see if they are happy if they see a future and career progression within that organisation. Essentially, each party is trying the other out before deciding if they want to commit.

What is a probation review meeting?

A probation review meeting does pretty much what it says on the tin. It is a meeting between the new employee and their line manager to review the probation period. The probation review meeting should take stock of what has gone well and what could be improved. It should also confirm if the employee has passed their probation period.

When should a probation review meeting be conducted?

Typically, a probation review meeting is conducted towards the end of the probation period. This is so that the employee and employer have as much time as possible to assess how the relationship has developed and to assess the employee’s performance. That is not to say though that no meetings should be held before the final review meeting. Regular check-ins and 1-1s with an employee, and in particular a new employee, are an effective and powerful tool for a line manager. It allows the line manager to provide support and guidance, to praise and reinforce what is going well and to address any areas of concern so that the new employee has the opportunity to improve.

What preparations can be made for a probation review meeting?

Preparing for a probation review meeting is very much like preparing for an annual appraisal. The line manager should review notes of any previous 1-1s or other interim meetings that have taken place during the probation period. They should pick out highlights and any areas that the employee needs to improve or develop in. It may also be relevant and appropriate to seek feedback from other team members or colleagues with whom the new employee frequently works. This will provide additional insight into how the new starter has settled in, developed relationships and performed. Additionally, the line manager might ask the new employee for their comments and thoughts in advance of the meeting. This can help to shape relevant questions and give the discussion more of a focus.

What probation meeting questions should be asked?

Any number of questions may be relevant at a probation review meeting and it would be impossible to produce a definitive list. That said there are some suggestions below which may be helpful:

  • What has gone well during the probation period?
  • Have you achieved anything during the probation period?
  • What has been the highlight of the probation period?
  • What hasn’t gone well during the probation period?
  • Have you learned anything during the probation period?
  • What skills and knowledge would you like to develop and what support do you need to do that?
  • How would you describe your relationships with colleagues?
  • If you had your probation period again what if anything would you do differently?

What happens after a probation review meeting?

More often than not there’s one of three outcomes after a probation review meeting. The ideal outcome is that the new employee is thriving and the probation period is passed.

The second outcome is that some things may have gone well and some may not. This is when the employer can decide to extend the probation period to give the new employee more time to achieve the required standard.

Finally, the employer may decide that the new employee has not shown that they can meet the requirements of the role. On that basis, the probation period has failed and employment is terminated. Whatever the outcome, it should be confirmed in writing to the employee. If termination is likely then it is worth seeking expert HR advice to avoid any potential pitfalls.

How can HRX help?

Regularly reviewed and updated, the HRX Knowledge Base provides a wealth of resources for businesses including handy checklists, guides and forms. As well as this, our HR software brings all of your employee data in one place, making way for a more streamlined HR process. Find out more by contacting us today or try it out for yourself and sign up for your FREE 30-day trial!

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