It’s nearly time for your employee’s probation review. Whether they’ve been working as part of your team for three months or even six months, you should have had plenty of time to assess their work and abilities and if they’re right for your business. In this article, we’ve taken a look at how to conduct a staff probationary review successfully.

What is a probation review meeting?

A probation review meeting is there to assess your new employee’s abilities, how they’ve progressed and if they are suitable for the role permanently. In this meeting, you will confirm if they have passed their probation period, what they can do to improve and set goals moving forward.

Can you dismiss an employee during the probation period?

Yes, during the probation period your employee can be dismissed without any need for you to follow any particular procedure. However, it’s a good idea to try and work alongside your employer and encourage them to improve their performance before simply dismissing them.

Set up an early review meeting to discuss what isn’t working and let them explain why they may not be performing as expected. It’s important that you provide evidence to support any concerns you may have and give them time to respond.

Can you be unfairly dismissed on probation?

Staff cannot claim unfair dismissal unless they have worked for you for at least two years.

However, if they believe they have been dismissed due to any of the following discriminatory reasons, they do have a case for unfair dismissal no matter how long they have been employed:

  • Gender
  • Age
  • Sexual orientation
  • Pregnancy and maternity
  • Race
  • Religion and belief
  • Disability
  • Marriage and civil partnership

Are probation reviews important?

Yes, very important. If you allow these to tick by without confirmation that you are happy and that your staff member has passed they may be unsure of their role and place in your business. It’s important you sit down and talk through what you are happy with regarding their performance and what may require improvement. You should also set targets and goals for them to work towards ready for their next review.

It’s important that you are prepared for these meetings, they should not be off the cuff. Book it into the diary and ensure your employee is aware of what it means.

If they have passed, confirm their successful probation with a written letter, congratulating them and welcoming them as a permanent member of staff.

How to stay fair in a probation review?

Within a probation meeting it’s important you stay unbiased and fair to ensure no discrimination can take place. To do this successfully, you should curate a set template of competencies for job roles to hit.

Any criticisms or issues should have been flagged before the probation review meeting, this allows the employee time to prepare or fix the problem. If you do need to discuss any performance issues, give them time to respond and explain the situation. Encourage them to provide evidence to support any arguments they may have against any negative feedback you present. This ensures the conversation is fair and not one-sided.

Best way to conduct a probation review?

A probation review is best conducted in a private setting such as a meeting room, where you can have an honest and confidential conversation. This is the time where you can discuss the employee’s progress and any goals they should work towards once their full-time employment is accepted.

How to conduct a probation review when the employee has passed

Set an agenda for the meeting beforehand, explaining what will be discussed and if they need to prepare anything.

Start the meeting with an informal chat, setting a calm and friendly mood and encourage your employee to talk openly about their role. Confirm that they have passed their probation and you would like to offer them a permanent role in the business.

Begin with a positive, discuss something they have done well and praise them. If there are any negative issues these should come next. Explain what you are unhappy with and why and confirm exactly what needs to be improved with evidence. Allow them time to discuss these issues and confirm if they agree and what they think they could do to improve.

Finish on a positive, give another example of what you are happy with and then confirm what you’d like them to work on before their next performance review.

How to conduct a probation review when the employee has not passed

If you are not going to offer the employee a permanent role, this meeting can be difficult. However, any issues you may have had should have been raised and the individual should have had time to fix their errors before the review.

It’s important it is planned early in the day, it isn’t fair to have the employee work for the whole day only to be dismissed at the end.

Open the meeting with a quick chat to relax the individual, before confirming that they have not passed their probation. Ask if they would like feedback and if they do explain what has caused them to fail their probation, with evidence to support your claims.

Thank them for their time and wish them the best in the future. Ask if they would like to leave immediately and if they have anything at their desk arrange for this to be given to them at another time.

How an individual reacts to be dismissed can vary, some may get upset or they may accept what is happening. Be prepared and remain calm.

Getting that probation review right requires plenty of prep and a positive demeanour. Follow these steps and any future reviews you have should be a great success.