People & Human Resources

Three reasons you’re the one failing probation, not your new employee

Sue-Ellen Watts /

A probation period in most businesses is seen as an employer’s “get out of jail free card”, with some thinking that if their new recruit doesn’t quite cut the mustard they can exit them easily.

Well yes, this is true to a point but in my view often it is not the new recruit that failed the probation period, but the business or manager.

Rather than focusing on using a probation period as a safe way to reverse a hiring mistake, it should be considered a time when the business is working hard to ensure that they are receiving a return on their hiring investment as quickly as possible.

Here are three ways to start thinking differently about a probation period.

1. No more set and forget

Just because you have offered someone a job, they have accepted and they are starting on Monday doesn’t mean you’re done. What happens in that first week is critical.

If you have given them three months to show you what they are made of, what are you showing them in their first week? If an employee arrives on their first day with no desk, no computer, no buddy and no clear training or expectation plan then don’t complain when they are not giving you a return within three months. The less prepared you are for their start, the more money you are pouring down the drain. And its not their fault, it’s yours!

2. No more having the first review period at the end of three months

In the first three months of employment, a new recruit should be meeting with their manager regularly to discuss two-way feedback.  We suggest a meeting at the end of the first week, fourth week, eighth week and 12th week to ensure the new recruit is well and truly off and running at the end of their probation period. Why wait 12 weeks to find out they haven’t yet got the right tools of the trade or they haven’t been taken out on that important client famil?

3. No more thinking that they are the only ones learning

Bringing a new set of eyes into your business is the perfect time to re-assess your current processes. We all know that “we have always done it this way” is not going to lead to a successful business, and trying new approaches is part of creating an innovative workplace. Use the probation period to ask your new employee what they think about how you do things. Is there something that could be changed to be more effective? Hear their ideas and suggestions — you may end up with more than you were expecting from this new addition to the team!

As you can see, the probation period is also an opportunity for the employer to show they cut the mustard! Plus, if you are relying on probation to be a “get out of jail free card” perhaps you should be reconsidering your approach to recruitment!

Sue-Ellen Watts is the founder of national HR consulting firm wattsnext. Sue-Ellen and her team of professionals are enablers of business growth through relevant HR for the modern world. 

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Sue-Ellen Watts

Sue-Ellen Watts is the founder of wattsnext, specialists delivering relevant HR for the modern world to SMEs across the globe.

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