1. Decide when to run probation period reviews
We recommend that you don’t wait until the very end of the probation period to run these reviews. Running probation reviews halfway through the probation periods is a way to let your new hires know where they stand long before their probation period is coming to an end.
2. Set up the questions
End-of-probation performance reviews shouldn’t have all the same questions included in 360° reviews.
It’s important that the questions selected reflect the company’s culture and values. Team- and role-specific skills should also be assessed; however, a probation period is typically short, and if you’ve hired a good culture fit, your new employee will be eager to learn more if they’re encouraged and have access to the right resources.
Key topics to cover:
- Learning & development opportunities and needs
- Company culture
- Job description & workload
- Workload evaluation
Besides quantitative data, which is key for spotting trends over time (as well as across departments and roles), include qualitative, open-ended questions for deeper insights. Example: What should [employee] keep doing? What should they change?
We recommend using a five-point scale for quantitative questions:
1 = Needs Strong Improvement
2 = Needs Improvement
3 = Meets Expectations
4 = Exceeds Expectations
5 = Superb
As an example, some relevant self-assessment questions would be:
- Qualitative: What are your key learnings from the probation period? (1–3)
- Qualitative: What support would you need to move forward with your skill development?
- Qualitative: What are you proudest of during your first months at [company]?
3. Decide who will be involved in the review
Instead of only collecting a self-assessment by the employee and a review by their manager, we recommend running a 360° review process. 360° reviews include assessments by peers and reports, as well as customers and partners. By taking more perspectives into account, 360° reviews help prevent bias and offer richer insights.
4. Invite all participants & set a deadline
If you implement a platform like Leapsome to prevent you from drowning in paperwork, the review will be automatically triggered based on each employee’s start date. What’s more, you can set up automated reminders for all participants.
You should also communicate the following guidelines to all review respondents:
- Be frank, but empathetic, and also focus on strengths. We can’t stress enough how critical it is to keep feedback constructive.
- Ensure that constructive feedback is actionable.
- Be careful not to overwhelm someone with too much information. Focus on key points and illustrate your evaluation with facts.
- No feedback should be a surprise for the reviewee. A feedback culture promotes continuous feedback throughout the year, which can be done in opportunities such as 1:1 meetings.
It’s also a good idea to share our playbook on how to give constructive feedback with all probationary review respondents.
5. Result analysis
Ask managers to analyze results and pay attention to discrepancies to guarantee a more focused feedback talk with development suggestions and support. We recommend reviewing the person’s job description before this analysis.
6. Feedback talk
Manager and reviewee should schedule a meeting to discuss the feedback. The focus on development should be top of mind — and that should also include reinforcing strengths the reviewee already has. And that also goes for cases in which the employee will not continue to work at your organization; even in this situation, both sides should receive helpful feedback to help them grow.
If, however, the person continues at the company after their probationary period, review talks should end with a discussion and alignment on development goals. This makes reviews catalysts for change, leaving employees motivated.
Follow-up best practices for conducting a probation period review
Refer to this review when conducting subsequent reviews in the future
Always revisit results from previous reviews to track development and roadblocks. This will also help managers be consistent with ratings while taking development expectations into account.
With Leapsome, you can easily do this and use our platform’s advanced analytics to visualize learning progress and spot areas for improvement.
— Download our free template with best-practice questions for performance reviews to find inspiration for your company’s end-of-probation reviews (including self-assessment and questions for other review participants).
And would you like to learn how to run other types of performance reviews? We’ve got you covered: Check out our playbooks on how to run 360° reviews and leadership reviews. 😉