Effective Management of Employees’ Probation Period

31 Aug
by Suzie Business Owner & Senior HRBP

Probationary periods serve as a crucial time in which managers can evaluate the suitability of new employees for a particular job. During this period, employees are expected to meet certain targets and perform to a certain standard. It is the responsibility of the line manager to closely monitor their performance and provide constructive feedback through regular check-ins.

Here are the rules of the road for managing employees’ probationary periods to ensure that the company chooses the best candidate for the job.

Establish Expectations Early and Communicate Them Clearly

One of the main goals of the probationary period is to establish whether the new employee can meet the expectations of the company. As a manager, it is your responsibility to ensure that these expectations are clear, communicated early, and well-defined. This means that before the probationary period begins, both the employee and the manager must have a clear understanding of the role, KPIs, and performance standards. Employees are more likely to succeed if they know what is expected of them from the beginning.

Provide Continuous and Constructive Feedback

Regular feedback is critical to the success of the probationary period. As a manager, you should provide employees with constructive feedback frequently. Give them insight on what they are doing well and what they could improve on. It’s also essential to take the time to listen to your employees and to provide guidance and support when necessary. The aim is to help them reach their full potential and succeed in the role.

Identify and Address Development Needs

During the probationary period, it’s common for managers to identify areas where employees can improve. Once identified, managers must provide support and training to help bridge any gaps in skills or knowledge. It’s important to establish a development plan and check progress in regular meetings. The more support employees receive early on, the more likely they are to succeed.

Decide Whether to Extend or Pass the Probation

Once the probationary period is complete, the manager must determine whether the employee has met the established criteria and passed their probation, or whether they require additional support. In some cases, managers may choose to extend the probationary period to allow employees to improve their performance with further support and training. This decision should be made objectively, based on established criteria, and communicated clearly to the employee.

Do Not Allow Probation to Drift

When the probationary period ends, it’s essential to make a decision promptly. It’s not uncommon for managers to allow the probationary period to drift over the contractual end date. However, doing so could create confusion and cause problems if there is a need to dismiss the employee. If no decision is made, the employee may be considered to have passed their probation.

Employee Passed Probation

If an employee has passed their probation, it is essential to confirm this in writing. The confirmation should be sent to the employee and HR, detailing the new status and any agreed-upon changes, such as an increase in salary. It is also important to set expectations for the employee post-probation, including key performance indicators (KPIs) that the employee must meet.

Salary Review After Probation: If a salary review was agreed upon following a successful probation, Line Managers should also advise HR of the new salary and effective date so that HR can update the internal system and notify payroll.

Employee Failed Probation

If an employee has not passed their probation, it is important to have a conversation with them. Line Managers should discuss the termination of their employment and advise HR to prepare the leaver letter and process the end of employment. HR will send the letter to the Line Manager, who should sign and issue it to the employee. Line Managers should return a signed copy to HR for filing. On the last day of the employee, Line Managers should collect any company property from the employee and notify the relevant individuals to disable their access to the company’s systems.


Effective management of employees’ probationary periods is critical to identifying the best candidates for the job. Managers must establish expectations clearly, provide continuous and constructive feedback, address development needs, and decide whether to extend or pass the probation. Most importantly, managers should not allow the probation period to drift over the contractual end date. By following these practices, managers can ensure that their employees are set up for long-term success in their roles.

You can find further support and letter templates in How To HR in the support section.

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