Managing Probationary Periods

Probationary periods are very much a part of many organisation’s onboarding process of newly appointed employees.  Colleges are committed to developing and supporting staff to work effectively to meet the objectives of their roles and many use iP to do that. Line managers are best placed to offer one-to-one support and guidance to new staff in meeting these objectives and developing new skills.  The probation period is used to support and evaluate a new member of staff’s performance with a view to confirming them in post.

However, it can be common for employers to discover in the first few weeks into the employment, that employees:

  1. don’t deliver the skills or performance they promised at interview

  2. have poor timekeeping or attendance

  3. are a bad fit in terms of their personality and the culture of the organisation

The purpose of a probationary period is creating a ‘settling in’ period for the employee and for the employer to assess the suitability of the employee's role. It is important that employees and employers positively view probation as, when managed well, probation will increase the probability that new employees succeed in their new roles. 

It’s important to remember that the purpose of probation is to bring an effective employee on board so a line manager needs to effectively manage the probation period in order for it to be successful.

Line managers need to make sure they support new employees by:

  1. Clearly understanding expectations

  2. Developing the knowledge and skills needed to fulfil their new role

  3. Addressing promptly any issues before the probation period ends

The line manager sets out details of training, guidance and support that the new employee will receive to help them achieve the required standard to successfully pass their probationary period.  

During the probationary period a series of formal review meetings take place between the new employee and their line manager. 

The line manager keeps detailed records and documentation of meetings, support and training and all documentation is signed off by both the employee and the line manager at the end of the period.

How can iP support the Probationary Period?

Colleges are committed to developing and supporting staff to work effectively to meet the objectives of their roles and many use iP to do that. Staff subject to an organisation’s Probation procedure will normally have a probationary period of three to six months.  The implementation of the probation procedure must be clear and transparent.  iP is an ideal tool to handle the procedure.

Suggested Model

  1. A new staff member joins your organisation and is set up on iP as a ‘Probation User’ in a ‘Probation Group’.

  2. Probation Competencies, Objectives and Observation and Monitoring forms can be set by the iP Administrator, ready for discussion during the first Line Manager 1:1 meeting when the Probation Review is open. See examples of these forms.

  3. The Probation Review can set to the maximum period your College allocates to Probation e.g. 6 months. If the staff member is then invited to stay on, a new Review in line with similar staff will be set up to reflect the Performance Management of a staff member.

  4. During each probation period, iP can be used by the staff member and line manager to record progress at intervals throughout the Probation and at specific Probation milestones  e.g. at 3 months, 6 months and 9 months.   

  5. iP functionality allows the recording and progress of Probation Objectives Objective Action Steps, Probation Competencies and Probation Monitoring Forms.  See examples.

  6. Evidence collation, the recording of CPD and areas for development can be utilised to support all probation activities.

  7. Finally, all of these undertakings can be supported by regular ‘Interim Reviews’ or ‘Check-ins’ with the Line Manager.  These are recorded with ease; taking a ‘snapshot’ of the Probation Period to date.

What do I need to do now to create a Probation Period on my organisation’s iP Site?

Simply call and ask to speak with your Account Manager to discuss your bespoke needs.  We will help you to create the Probation Period forms and templates to reflect the needs of your organisation and will help to set up your processes.  Please remember, all online training is FREE and UNLIMITED.




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