Free probation review template and probation best practice tips
It’s not always easy to be a good person, especially in the world of business.
When I hire someone at CharlieHR and oversee their employee onboarding for their first three months on the job, I go in expecting and hoping for the best out of the new hire.
Unfortunately, life doesn’t always work like that. Small businesses especially can be prone to poor hiring decisions because they want to move fast and that occasionally leads them to hire the wrong candidate.
That’s why probation reviews are so important and why having a very easy-to-understand probation review template, along with resources is crucial.
I created this guide to draw on my experience working alongside hiring managers at CharlieHR, and offer guidance on how to conduct probation reviews and have a standardised template for probation reviews, so that your new hires may be set up for success and hopefully pass theirs.
Understanding probation reviews
Probation reviews are the formal assessments that take place after a new hire’s probation period. These reviews assess their performance, behaviours, and attitudes to make sure they’re aligned with the values and goals of the organisation.
The probation review process serves two purposes:
- to assess the new hire's ability to do well at their job
- to evaluate whether the new hire's values and goals align with the company culture.
These probation reviews are a chance to assess whether the new hire is a good mutual fit - both for the employee and for the organisation. This probationary phase typically lasts between three to six months.
The importance of having a probation review template
Consistency is key in the world of HR, and that's especially true of probation reviews. Without a standardised, repeatable process, probation reviews can easily become subjective, biased, and unfair. A probation review template helps keep them objective, and based on the employee's performance.
A probation review template ensures that all new hires are judged according to the same standards, regardless of who the hiring manager is. A template for your probation reviews gives a clear framework for the evaluation, outlining the key performance indicators and the criteria with which the new hire will be assessed.
Having a template for your probation reviews ensures fairness, transparency, and clear expectations for the new hire.
This kind of structure helps all of your probation reviews be as constructive and mutually beneficial as possible. You can use the [probation review template ](link to CharlieHR template) that we use internally at CharlieHR as a starting point for your probation review process. This template is designed to make sure your probation reviews are objective, thorough, and constructive, both for you and your new hires.
Top tips to conduct a probation review: CharlieHR’s approach
At this point, I’d like to illustrate how your probation review process might go by using how we do probation reviews at CharlieHR as an example.
Our step-by-step approach to probation reviews helps set clear expectations and reasonable standards from the get-go and keeps the line of communication open throughout the new hire’s probation period:
- Setting clear objectives: The probation review process starts with a meeting between the new hire and their hiring manager. During this meeting, they set clear objectives and performance targets for the new hire to shoot for, to provide a clear roadmap for their success
- Regular check-ins: Regular feedback is important at CharlieHR, which is why we require all hiring managers to have weekly meetings with new hires throughout their probationary period. That way, they can resolve any immediate issues, and offer support where needed
- Monthly objective reviews: The hiring managers at CharlieHR have check-ins monthly as well as weekly so that any potential issues can be resolved early on before they spiral into bigger problems. They also allow the new hire to improve before the end of the probation period
- Formal performance review meeting: At the end of the three or six-month probation period, the manager and the new hire sit down to review the new hire’s performance against the objectives set at the beginning of the probation period. That involves evaluating the expectations of their role, their behaviours in the office, and any specific KPIs or performance targets
- Post-review decision making: At the end of the performance review, our hiring managers at CharlieHR decide whether the new hire has passed probation, needs an extension, or whether the working relationship won’t work out. The decision is made in the best interest of both the new hire, and our team at CharlieHR.
This is the approach we take at CharlieHR to make sure our probation reviews are fair, transparent, and effective when assessing the new hire’s fit.
Common questions to include in your probation review template
Your probation review template should involve a series of thoughtful questions that measure the new hire’s performance, their culture fit within the team, and their overall experience. Here are some probation review questions you might ask during the process:
1. "Have you met the objectives set at the beginning of your probation period?"
This question directly measures whether the new hire achieved the specific goals and KPIs set out for them. This gives a clear indicator of their performance and helps identify areas where they are struggling and may need support.
2. "Can you provide examples of any challenges you faced and how you overcame them?"
This question evaluates the new hire's problem-solving skills. It sheds light on obstacles they encountered and gives some insight into their adaptability and resourcefulness.
3. "How have you integrated with your team and the company culture?"
This question assesses the new hire’s fit within their team dynamics and the broader company culture. This can help identify any potential interpersonal issues or cultural mismatches, which are crucial for long-term job satisfaction and performance.
4. Do you feel like you have the support you need to succeed in your role?
The new hire's response to this question can help point out areas where the company needs to improve its onboarding and support processes.
5. What areas of your role do you feel like you’re especially good at? What areas do you feel you need improvement in?
The way the new hire answers this question can encourage self-reflection and their perception of their own strengths and weaknesses. It also starts a conversation about their personal development and future goals.
Pull off probation reviews in a pinch with CharlieHR
Conducting effective probation reviews is a complex process that requires careful planning, methodology, and execution. CharlieHR’s performance review software is designed to help you simplify and streamline your probation review process, from setting objectives to conducting the review itself.
The performance management feature allows you to set clear and actionable goals for your new hire, and run the probation review directly within the platform.
A standardised performance review process backed by thoughtful review questions helps both you and the new hire make the most out of the meeting, and help make sure the new employee has the best chance of success possible during the review.
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