Managing probation

You should discuss and agree a probation plan shortly after your member of staff has started in the role. This will set out clear objectives for the probation period and also allow you to pick up on any development needs noted at the recruitment stage or during the time they have been in the role.

An effective probation period will help your member of staff to perform well in the role. It is also a means of assessing their competence to do the job to which they have been appointed. Trial periods for redeployees should also be managed in a similar way.

Planning probation

Probation should be job specific, focus on deliverables, skills, attitudes and behaviours and include a mechanism to make sure all of these are appropriately measured and evaluated.

You can do this by setting objectives to monitor and evaluate against. These will need to be clear, concise, understood by both parties and include a mechanism and timescale to review. Further information on setting objectives can be found on the Organisational Development and Professional Learning (OD&PL) (formerly SDDU) website.

Being clear at induction about standards and expectations can also help to provide a benchmark for attitudes and behaviours.

As part of probation you should agree a personal development plan (PDP) with the member of staff that will help them to perform well in the role. This can draw on any development needs identified during recruitment as well as any support required to help them meet the agreed objectives.

Managing probation

Meeting regularly during the probation period will give you the opportunity to provide feedback, recognise what has been achieved and address any issues that may have arisen. It will also allow the member of staff to discuss how they have found the role and any issues they have experienced.

If you have any concerns about performance within the role these should be raised with the member of staff as soon as possible. You can explore the underlying cause and take appropriate action to help the member of staff to improve their performance. For example, you may need to identify appropriate training or re-clarify expectations to ensure there is a common understanding.

Reviewing probation

If there are no problems and the member of staff has achieved the agreed objectives you can simply confirm that they have successfully completed their probation period (probation for University Research Fellowships is slightly different). You may want to do this before the end of the planned period where an excellent performer has demonstrated their competence and achieved agreed objectives ahead of schedule.

Once probation is complete you can continue to manage a member of staff's performance through other processes, including SRDS.

If a member of staff is not performing as required and has not met the agreed objectives, you may have the option of terminating their contract providing you have set, monitored and evaluated objectives and provided appropriate support.

More details on the probation process can be found in the procedures.

Advice and support can also be sought from your local HR Manager/Officer.