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Probing into Probation

16 May 2018

Brendan McCarron

Brendan McCarron, Assistant Manager of Brightwater’s HR division discusses the pitfalls of probation periods and the elements to managing a successful one.

In an ideal world your interview and hire your preferred candidate and that’s the end of that. They start working for you organisation and deliver the performance and quality that you expected from their stellar interview process.

In reality it sometimes just doesn’t work out - the fit is just not ‘right’ for either or both sides. The proof is in the pudding… both parties really only find out if the move is right once you have started the new Job. There is a mutuality in these instances….

However, if the issue is down to the employee’s performance and quality of work, or the manager’s expectation not being met, then it is a different conversation and normally not a ‘mutual’ one. People who have gone into the review meeting, sit-down or ‘chat’ and asked how they felt things were going – then are ultimately told how the organisation felt things were going and are exited shortly after.

This is something that I struggle to comprehend. Do your new hires know exactly what is required to PASS probation. What is expected of them, what their deliverables, metrics, KPI’s are.

What ‘good’ looks like.

I have talked to candidates who have been ‘let go’ once their probation period is up – a little too late for any discussion around performance then.

You exert so much time and energy attracting and recruiting talent to your organisation, only to shuffle them into an unfair, murky and knife-edge probation process. It doesn’t make sense….

At the IBEC conference on Wednesday, May 9th IBEC’s Paul Rochford talked about managing successful probation period. There are three outcomes to a probation period:

  • Confirmation
  • Extension
  • Dismissal

He stated that any of the three should not be a surprise to the employee when conducting their review.

Paul said that managing a successful probation process starts when the person is hired. The expectation is outlined to them from the get-go, it is clearly included in their contract of employment – either in line with wider company policy or a specific set of policies to govern probation with your company.

There should be frequent check-ins throughout the probation. Be open and honest. Have the conversation if things are not progressing as expected but have this as early as possible. Extend the probation period if needed, but clearly explain why.

Or maybe the only option is really to dismiss the person, but ideally there have been conversation leading up to this decision and it is not a bolt out of the blue for the employee.

You worked long and hard to hire this person, so make sure your probation policy gives them the best chance to succeed.

Brendan McCarron is the Assistant Manager of Brightwater’s HR division.

For further information and a confidential discussion about your career please contact our Brightwater team below on 01 662 1000 or email: b.mccarron@brightwater.ie