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Eight Top Tips for Conducting Probation Period Reviews

Your mantra when conducting probation review meetings should be ‘feedback, feedback, feedback.’ It’s important to use the probation period to hold candid, structured, two way conversations on what is working well and what areas need further development and support.


Probation periods allow both parties to identify issues in a timely way and build effective rapport to enable conversations to align performance and expectations.


The frequency of review meetings during the first few weeks may differ from one organisation to another and will depend on the length of the probation period. It is common to review after 4 weeks, and again at the 3 month and 6 month points, or 4 weeks, 8 weeks, and 12 weeks for 3 month probation periods. There is a balance to be found between supportive evaluation and feedback, versus an overwhelming amounts of check ins that can feel like micromanagement.


As the probation period nears an end, you should be holding a final probation review meeting to agree that the probation period has been passed, failed, or may be extended. What is important is that this is not a huge surprise, without feedback being given in the preceding weeks.


Our Top Tips

Don’t leave preparation to the last minute. Preparation is important for a meaningful review. Preparation should include collecting and reviewing relevant performance data, feedback from others, and any documented issues or incidents within the probationary period. Managers should be ready to discuss specific examples during review meetings.


Consider where meetings are held. Ensure a confidential meeting space is booked to put the employee at ease and foster an open and honest conversation about performance to address any concerns or challenges.


Ensure discussions are two-way. Remember that the employee is also continually assessing whether the organisation is the right fit for them too. Make them feel welcomed into the organisation, ensuring that feedback is constructive, and includes positives as well as areas for further focus.


Provide clear, evidenced, constructive feedback. Provide feedback in a clear and concise manner, based on measurable performance criteria, and providing specific examples and evidence; acknowledging achievements and efforts as well as ensuring that expectations are known.


Set realistic goals with clear timelines. Clear goals and expectations should be set and reviewed regularly to track progress, discuss any necessary adjustments, and identify any additional support needed.


Provide support and resources. Outline the support available to employees to ensure their development stays on track – this may be a buddy system, training, resources, guidance from subject leads, as well as management check ins. Ask if any further support would be helpful and ensure that targeted support is provided.


Address performance concerns promptly. If expected standards are not being met, it is important to communicate this by raising the concern, ensuring that expectations are clearly outlined and what action needs to be taken to meet the standard required. Provide constructive feedback regularly rather than storing up a list of issues for scheduled meetings. Avoid a surprise extension or failure of the probation period in the final meeting by letting staff know how they are doing regularly.


Record keeping. Document review meetings, feedback, and performance-related discussions. Follow policies and procedures in place, maintaining records of the review discussion. This protects the interests of the employee as well as the organisation.


In summary

Probation reviews serve as crucial checkpoints in an individual's professional journey, offering valuable opportunities for growth and development. By providing constructive feedback, setting clear goals, and fostering open communication, both employers and employees can work together to ensure mutual success and achieve collective goals.


With proactive engagement and a focus on collaboration, we can transform probation reviews from mere formalities into powerful catalysts for progress and achievement.


Check out our other blogs in the series:

If you would like support with managing probation periods or onboarding staff, please get in touch via or call us on 01793 311937.

The content of our blogs is intended for general information and not to replace legal or other professional advice.



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