Conducting employee probation reviews

How to conduct a probation review meeting and ask the right questions

First published on Thursday, Jun 04, 2020

Last updated on Friday, Mar 01, 2024

As an employer or business owner, conducting probation review meetings is a key aspect of managing a new hire's probation period.

These meetings provide you with a valuable opportunity to assess a new employee. It's during these probationary review meetings that you can delve into specific aspects of their performance and ensure they're on track to meet your company's expectations.

In this article, we'll focus on how to conduct effective probation review meetings and ask the right questions to ensure a thorough evaluation.

What are probation review meetings?

The probation meeting is part of the probation period for a new employee. It's an essential aspect of the probation review process that provides you with a structured opportunity to evaluate a new hire's performance, behaviour, and overall fit within your business.

The probationary period is a trial period for both the employee and the employer to confirm that the employment relationship aligns with their expectations before continued employment.

Every business sets its own probation period, which is typically outlined in your employee's contract or employment contracts and will end with one final probation review meeting.

While probation periods and probationary review meetings are not legally required in the UK, it's best practice to have them as part of your onboarding process.

Reviewing targets during probation

Why are probationary reviews important?

Conducting employee probation review meetings is important for several reasons, including:

Performance evaluation

Probation reviews provide you with valuable insights into your employee's performance during the initial stages of their employment. This performance review allows you to identify any areas of strength or performance issues and address them promptly.

Alignment with company expectations

Probation reviews allow you to confirm that new hires understand and align with your company's values, culture, and expectations. It provides an opportunity to clarify any misunderstandings and set clear expectations for new employees moving forward.

Employee development

Through helpful feedback and guidance, probation reviews offer employees the opportunity to improve their skills, knowledge, and performance. It facilitates their professional development and enhances their chances of success within your business.

A person conducting training for people in their probation period

How to conduct a successful probation review meeting

Conducting a probation review meeting requires careful planning and preparation to ensure that it's productive and meaningful for both you and the new employee.

Preparing for the probation review meeting

Before the probation review meeting, it's essential to gather all relevant documentation related to the employee's performance during their probationary period.

This may include any performance reviews or appraisals, feedback from colleagues or clients, and any relevant metrics or KPIs.

Take the time to review this information thoroughly to ensure you have a clear understanding of the employee's performance and any areas that may need improvement.

Setting the agenda

When scheduling the probation review meeting, clearly outline the agenda and objectives to the employee. Let them know what topics will be discussed, such as the employee's development, performance, areas for improvement, and goals for the future.

Providing this information in advance allows the employee to prepare and ensures that both parties are on the same page.

Encouraging open dialogue

Throughout the probation review meeting, encourage open dialogue and active participation from the employee. Listen attentively to their responses and provide constructive feedback where necessary.

Creating a safe and supportive environment will help the employee discuss feedback honestly and can lead to productive two-way communication and collaboration. Leading to increased employee satisfaction, productivity, and retention.

2 people having a meeting where one person has completed their probation period

Setting clear expectations

Before concluding the probation review meeting, ensure that clear expectations have been set for the employee’s performance management moving forward.

This includes discussing any areas for improvement, setting goals, additional training, and objectives, and outlining the support or resources available to help them succeed.

Extending the probation period

In some cases, it may be necessary to extend an employee's probationary period if additional time is needed to assess their performance or address any concerns.

If you decide to extend the probation period, clearly communicate this decision to the employee during the probation review meeting, along with specific reasons for the extension and any expectations moving forward.

Provide them with a timeline for the extended probation period and outline the steps they need to take to meet the required standards.

Documenting the meeting

After the probation review meeting, document the key points discussed, any agreements reached, and any actions to be taken moving forward.

Keeping thorough records of the meeting ensures clarity and accountability for both parties.

Online probation review

Asking the right probation review meeting questions

During the probation review meeting, asking the right questions is crucial to gather valuable insights into the employee's performance and development and will ensure an effective evaluation.

Here are some examples of probation review questions to guide your discussion:

Performance and job duties

  • How do you feel you've performed in your role during the probationary period?
  • Can you provide specific examples of tasks or projects you've completed successfully?
  • Have you encountered any challenges in performing your job duties? If so, how have you addressed them?

Adaptability and fit

  • How well do you feel you've adapted to our company culture and work environment?
  • Do you believe your skills and experience align with the requirements of your role?
  • Have you faced any difficulties integrating into your team or working with colleagues? If so, how have you handled them?

Communication and collaboration

  • How would you rate your communication skills and ability to collaborate with others?
  • Can you provide examples of how you've contributed to team projects or initiatives?
  • Have you experienced any communication challenges or conflicts with colleagues? If so, how have you resolved them?

Performance review improvement and development

  • Are there any areas where you feel you need additional support or training to perform your job more effectively?
  • What steps have you taken to improve your skills or knowledge during the probationary period?
  • How do you envision your professional development within the company moving forward?

Goal setting and expectations

  • What are your career goals and aspirations, and how do you see yourself contributing to the company's success?
  • Are there any specific goals or objectives you'd like to work towards in the next phase of your employment?
  • How can we best support you in achieving your goals and fulfilling your potential within the business?

By asking the right questions, encouraging open dialogue, and setting clear expectations, you can effectively evaluate your employees' performance and provide them with the support and guidance they need to excel in their roles.

A probation review meeting between two people

How BrightHR can help with probationary reviews

Preparing invitations, conducting meetings and everything that follows requires a lot of paperwork and time. However, with BrightHR's document library which contains a vast collection of professionally drafted documents, carrying out your employee probation reviews won't be a problem.

Included in the HR document library is:

  • Probation invite letter
  • Probation review form
  • Outcome of probationary review meeting
  • Probation review guidance

All of which you can customise and tailor specifically to your business needs.

Storing your employee’s documentation securely is a vital part of your responsibilities as an employer. Not to mention the documents you are legally required to store. That’s why BrightHR software comes with unlimited and secure cloud-based storage for your HR documents.

You can upload multiple documents at once, share them with your employees and meet your legal record-keeping obligations by maintaining an archive of all your documents.

As a business owner, there is already so much on your plate. So, it’s not unusual if it skips your mind when new employees' probation reviews are coming up. But with BrightHR you can set reminders for when review meetings are due, ensuring that you take the appropriate actions at the right time without forgetting important deadlines.

And forget about doubting yourself, with our 24/7 HR and employment law advice line, you can gain peace of mind and the confidence that every step you take is legally sound and in the best interest of your business and employees.

Beyond probation reviews, BrightHR has all the tools you need to transform your people management, with support for you, your business, and your employees.

Not a BrightHR customer? Speak to one of our software specialists today and see for yourself how BrightHR can help you with the probation review process and so much more.

Frequently asked questions

What happens if an employee fails their probationary period?

Following a failed probation period, it's essential to follow the procedures outlined in their employment contract and company policy.

This may include providing feedback on their performance, discussing areas for improvement, extending the probation period, and dismissing their employment if necessary.

What happens after the probation review meeting?

After the probation meeting, both the employer and the employee should be clear on any actions or expectations moving forward. This may include setting goals, addressing areas for improvement, or outlining any additional support or resources needed.

It's essential to follow up on these discussions and monitor the employee's progress accordingly.

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