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The Probationary Period: creating a bedrock for success

19 Sep 2012 by Amy Lawrence.

Probation periods generally last about 3 months, which in most cases is enough time to assess if an individual is getting to grips with the role and integrating well with the team.
This is the time for your new hire to demonstrate their ability to apply their skills and experience and adapt to their new position, but they’ll need structure and support from a manager or mentor to make the partnership a success.

Terms of the probationary period should be stated in the offer letter and detailed in the contract of employment before the new hire starts the job. This will ensure clarity on both sides from the outset.

Structuring the process is important. Create an induction document to work through in the coming weeks so that both the manager and the new hire can engage in the process and see progression. Break down the company and the role into sections and create tasks that can be completed and discussed. Date the completion of each element so that you have a record of what you have covered.

Organise regular review meetings so you can continue to build a relationship with your new colleague. Plan any training that is required.

During this time your new hire should be showing a level of capability that is acceptable for the level of the job. Some positions will naturally require more supervision and on the job training than others, and there will be times when intervention is necessary.

The most important thing you can give to a new hire is your time. Try to remain empathetic, open and approachable despite the pressures of your own workload. Tackle any problems as they come up, and offer supportive solutions that might help to resolve them.

By the end of the probation period your new recruit should be familiar with the structure of the company and the function of each department, as well as feeling comfortable with their particular team and their role within it. They should be making continuous strides towards performing at the required level and feel confident that they are able to work independently as well as with their colleagues.

Arrange a final review meeting where you can discuss performance, achievements and successes. If there are still improvements to be made outline what they are and produce a timeframe for development. If your probation process is well executed there should be no surprises for either side.

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