Dear Workforce How Could We Use Employee Probation to Effectively Assess Newcomers

By Staff Report

Aug. 4, 2009

Dear Excellence Director:


Think of probation as a chance to “test drive” people before making an offer of full-time employment. It is a chance for both company and would-be employee to gauge whether there is a good “fit.” Here are some keys to ensuring your test drive doesn’t end up in a ditch:

Use a map to get from A to Z. It is important to set expectations for new employees during this trial period. Expectations can be set by creating goals and objectives that establish direction for the new employee. Plan small wins along the way to help them succeed.

Stop at red lights. Immediately address any wrong behaviors and help educate the new employee on expected company behaviors. Organizational culture is sometimes tricky to learn.

Go on green lights. Everyone has strengths. Once a new employee’s strengths are discovered, it is important to plug those strengths into organization opportunities. By having a conversation about the person’s strengths and observing them in action, you will have a much clearer understanding of how the new assets can be best leveraged.

Sightseeing is a part of the drive. As you get to know the new employee and they get to know you and the organization, the goal is that both sides will get more comfortable with each other. Take the time to invite the new employee to organizational social events to get to know them outside of work.

Navigate the construction. There will be times during this “test drive” that you will uncover development needs. Make a list and have a conversation with the new employee to discover learning and development opportunities.

Use the brakes. New employees may find it hard to learn the organizational nuances and culture, thus leading them down the wrong road. Take time out to check in with the new employee on a consistent basis to see how they feel about how things are going. Communicate, communicate—and then communicate some more.

Pay attention to the road ahead. By looking ahead to future organizational needs, you will be able to determine which role is best for new employees, based on an understanding of their strengths and weaknesses.

SOURCE: Dana Jarvis, Duquesne University, Pittsburgh

LEARN MORE: If people are leaving before their probationary period expires, open-ended exit interviews are a good way to determine the reasons.

The information contained in this article is intended to provide useful information on the topic covered, but should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion. Also remember that state laws may differ from the federal law.

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