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Probation Review Best Practices In 2024: What It Is & Why It Is Important

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There are many parallels that can be drawn between the beginning of one’s employment at a firm and the first couple of dates of a budding relationship. If the initial interview was the blind date your mutual friends set you two up on, then the probation review is “the talk”! The one where you properly define the relationship.

All jokes and dating references aside, the probation review is an extremely important part of the recruitment process that has deservedly been getting a lot of attention lately.

With a terribly intimidating name like that, comes a lot of confusion, uncertainty, and doubt.There are some very relevant questions circulating the discussion from both sides of the spectrum such as:

What should a probation review include? When to conduct probation reviews? What questions are asked in probation review hearings?

Or even simply: What is a probation review?

This is why we decided to throw our hat in the mix and provide some insight into probation reviews not just on the side of the reviewer, but on the person being reviewed as well.

So scroll down at your reading pleasure as we discuss some basics, helpful tips, sample questions, and best practices about probation reviews.

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Probation Review 101

At its very core, a probation review is a great opportunity for the employee and the employer to discuss where things are and where things are going, after the initial probation period of the employee’s time at the organization.

While it is an effective tool for determining if the parties are a good fit for each other, it is also an incredible way to discuss how the relationship between the employee and the employer will progress going forward. The comparisons we made to dating don’t seem so far-fetched now do they?

The probation review can help parties set new standards going into the future; It can help the employer gain further insight into not only the new hire but also into what it is like for a newcomer at the organization.

The time to conduct the review is right at the end of the probationary period. This can vary among organizations ranging from 30 days all the way up to six months, giving both parties plenty of time to get acquainted with each other.

The Importance of Probation Reviews

Although probation reviews can sound intimidating, it’s an important tool for collecting feedback from your new hires and see where they are going to fit in your organization.

Probation reviews create a space for communicating and hearing expectations, providing feedback on the employee’s strengths, and offer guidance on how to succeed in the role.

For example if the employee in probation is struggling in certain areas, probation reviews can identify the need for additional training or development opportunities.

An Alternate Approach For The Reviewer

The words probation and hearing have some incredibly harsh and negative connotations to them and one thing we would like to suggest before going into our alternative approach to conducting these reviews is that you find a different name for them. Your name for this type of review can be whatever you feel reflects your company’s culture the best.

Another aspect of this review that keeps getting lost in the shuffle is that it isn’t just a hearing on whether the employee is staying or not. It is an unparalleled opportunity for two extremely valuable things:

  • Feedback
  • Data Collection

For that reason, conducting this review through a performance management tool with a wide array of customizable templates could be a very fruitful approach. Utilizing performance management software can help the reviewer incorporate 360-degree feedback into the probation reviews giving them a far deeper pool of feedback on what it feels like to be a new recruit in their organization.

If the reviewer can customize the review template and mix in different question formats such as multiple choice or rating questions, then they would have access to measurable, and empirical data, which can be used later to form an entire database to be compared and analyzed.

A database of information on what employees go through during their probation period is a priceless tool that can be used to build a stronger company culture and skyrocket employee retention rates.

Teamflect’s 30-Day Review (With Self-review) template allows employers to do just that, with the added benefits of mapping out an employee development plan at the end of the review.

Discussing a development plan at the end of the review hearing is one of the best ways you can end your probation reviews. It engages the employees and presents them with a new and exciting mountain to climb, now that the awfully named probation period is over.

How do probation reviews work?

What rights do probational employees have?

rights of employees in probation review

Probational employees hold most of the rights of a regular employee if not more. Let’s elaborate on that:

1. Anti-Discrimination Laws

Probationary employees are protected by anti-discrimination laws that prohibit discrimination based on factors such as race, gender, age, disability, religion, or national origin.

You can’t discriminate against probationary employees in hiring, terms of employment, or termination based on these protected characteristics.

2. Wage and Hour Laws

Probationary employees are entitled to receive at least the minimum wage and overtime pay if applicable, just like permanent employees. Wage and hour laws apply to all employees regardless of their probationary status.

3. Workplace Safety

Probationary employees have the right to a safe and healthy work environment. You, as an employer, are required to comply with workplace safety regulations and provide necessary training and protective equipment.

4. Privacy Rights

Employees, including probationary employees, have a right to privacy in the workplace. Employers must respect employees’ privacy rights and not engage in invasive monitoring or searches without a legitimate reason.

5. Notice of Termination

Probationary employees generally have the right to receive notice of termination or payment in lieu of notice in accordance with employment laws or their employment contract.

Probation Review Question Examples

probation review question examples

Now that the basics are covered and some wild suggestions have been made, it is time to discuss the meat and bones of the review: The questions! There is no hiding from the fact that this review is as tense as it gets and it is on the reviewer to help navigate those dangerous waters.

So each question has not only an informational purpose but a tonal one as well. The reviewer has to keep the fact that the employee isn’t the only one on probation. This review can just as easily end in the employee choosing to pursue other career opportunities.

1. What has made you the proudest during your initial time here?

It wouldn’t be groundbreaking to suggest that the reviewer should start things on a positive note. The first question asked has the potential to set the tone for the entire session. For that reason, it is a good idea to start things off by discussing what the reviewee is proudest of.

This question doesn’t just serve a feel-good purpose. It also reflects how much ownership the employee has been taking of the position itself. What the reviewer has to keep in mind is that the employee needs a platform to discuss all of their successes during the probation period. Why shouldn’t they start with it?

2. What do you think are your areas of improvement?

This question gives the reviewee a chance to get ahead of the negative discussion if there is one to be had. It also gives the reviewer the opportunity to show that they are willing to step in and help at any moment.

This question serves as a gateway to the discussion of any training or development opportunities going further.

3. What are your goals for the upcoming six months?

This is a great way to discuss future plans and goals for the employee. This section of the review should start as a question but evolve into a full-on discussion with ideas being exchanged back and forth.

4. Have you at any point felt disappointed in this organization? Are there any areas of improvement?

The employer’s time on probation has to be addressed during the review. Just as the employee had the chance to get ahead of any negativity, the reviewer should give themselves the same opportunity. This review can’t end without both parties feeling heard.

The employee has to be given the opportunity to give the employer some useful feedback. This feedback will undoubtedly play a huge part in the betterment of the organization in the future.

Before Going Into Your Probation Review

What to Keep in Mind

As we stated before, if you have your probation review coming up, you should remember the fact that you are not the only one on probation. The probation period isn’t just for the employer to test out the employee. It also exists so the employee can see if the organization is right for them.

How to Prepare For a Probation Review

  1. A great way to prepare for your probation review is by asking for feedback beforehand. If your organization has an existing 360-degree feedback tool at hand, using it could prove very useful.
  2. Mapping out your successes and areas of improvement before going into the review itself, making a small mental or written checklist can be a great way to prepare.
  3. Don’t just focus on yourself. Make sure that you prepare some feedback for your employer as well. If everything goes right and you end up staying in the organization, the feedback you provide your employer can end up making your stay there far more enjoyable.
  4. Are you happy with this position? Consider if this role or organization is right for you. If the answer is “No.”, then the probation review is the perfect place to discuss your grievances.

What happens after a probation review meeting?

what happens after a probation review

There are several ways a probation review can go, and you’ll most definitely face one of these situations depending on the scenario:

1. Confirmation of Employment

If you’ve met or exceeded the performance expectations outlined during the probation period, the outcome of the review may be confirmation of your permanent employment status. In this case, congrats!

2. Extension of Probation

In some cases, the review may reveal that you’ve made progress but still need a little time to meet the required standards or develop specific skills.

In such situations, the employer has the right to extend the probationary period for a specified duration to allow further evaluation and improvement.

3. Performance Improvement Plan (PIP)

If the employee’s performance falls significantly short of expectations, the outcome of the probation review may involve the implementation of a Performance Improvement Plan (PIP).

A PIP outlines specific goals, expectations, and timelines for improvement. The employee is closely monitored during this period, and failure to meet the PIP’s objectives could lead to termination.

4. Termination

In cases where an employee’s performance or behavior does not align with the organization’s standards and there is no realistic path to improvement, termination of employment may be the outcome of the probation review.

Looking for a way to boost your probation review?

Teamflect is the way to go! As the best all-in-one performance management tool designed specifically for Microsoft Teams, Teamflect will be your best friend during all your performance reviews, not just probation reviews!

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With its seamless Microsoft Teams integration, you can hold any type of performance review inside the Teams app without a hassle using Teamflect! Also, you can choose a template to start or create your own review and customize as you go.

Key Features:

  • The best performance review software for Microsoft Teams
  • Keeps the performance management process in a single app
  • Highly efficient one-on-one meetings with built-in task assignments and note-taking tools
  • User-friendly design
  • Customizable and automated review cycles with performance review template gallery
  • Extremely streamlined
  • Templates can be customized to conduct exit interviews, stay interviews, 30-day reviews, etc.

Written by Emre Ok

Emre is a content writer at Teamflect who aims to share fun and unique insight into the world of performance management.

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