6 Tips To Conduct A Successful Probation Review Meeting

6 Tips To Conduct A Successful Probation Review Meeting

A probation review meeting aims to discuss performance and identify areas for improvement. It's often referred to as a "performance review in disguise". When your team fails, cutting ties and moving on can be tempting. That strategy doesn't always work when you have a culture of accountability in your organization. 

A new generation of digital tools has made it easier to track performance, identify weak links, and hold everyone accountable for the mission. These changes make it easier to overhaul your culture and rediscover what makes people want to stay with you instead of looking for an excuse not to return.

Regardless of your challenges working with your employee, the first step toward resolving them is conducting a successful probation review meeting. It is an important opportunity for you and your employee to communicate how their performance will improve. 

A successful probation review meeting will result in the employee being granted a second chance. If you're aware of the ins and outs of office reviews, you'll be able to ensure that each one is a success for your team. 

However, this doesn't come easily. You must plan ahead and build trust between you and your employee before they walk through your office door again. To help you through that process and set you straight to get started, we've outlined vital tips to conduct an effective meeting.

What You Should Know Before You Conduct A Probation Review Meeting?

A probation review meeting is a meeting that is conducted before an employee's probation period ends with the company's human resources (HR) department to provide an overview of the employee's performance, evaluate the employee's progress, and discuss any concerns.

The purpose of a probation review meeting is to provide the employee with an opportunity to discuss their performance during their probationary period and to get feedback on their progress. The meeting is also an opportunity for HR to gather information about the employee's performance so they can make the assessment and corrective action (CAA) recommendations regarding the employee's performance.


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There are several things that should be included in a probation review meeting: 

  • An overview of the employee's performance during their probationary period should be provided. This includes providing an overview of the type of work they were doing, as well as any accomplishments or achievements they were involved in during this time.
  • HR should provide feedback on the employee's progress during their probationary period, including any areas for improvement or areas of continued development. This feedback can help the employee refine their skills and abilities, so they can be better prepared for their next role with the company. 
  • Any concerns or issues that were brought up during the applicant interview process should be discussed with HR at this meeting, so they can make CAA recommendations regarding these concerns. This will allow them to follow up on these issues if necessary or take further action if necessary. 
  • If there are any expectations or timelines that HR has for this meeting, they should be communicated at this time, so there are no surprises later on during the probationary period. 
  • This meeting is an opportunity for both HR and the employee to get to know each other better, so they can develop a better working relationship. This will allow them to be more efficient in communicating any issues that may arise throughout the probationary period.

A probation review meeting with an employee can be positive or negative. While there is not a concrete way to conduct a probation review meeting, there are some tips that can make the experience more positive for both you and the employee:



  • Be prepared
  • Research the employee's progress, review any documentation that may have been provided by the employee's supervisor, and have all the information you will need at the meeting.
  • Encourage open discussion by providing space for input and questions from all employees. Set clear goals for the review meeting and follow up with action items to be implemented within a specific timeframe.

  • Start with small talk
  • Begin the meeting by getting to know each other and developing a rapport. 
  • Small talk can go effectively a long way towards creating a positive atmosphere.
  • Have an agenda
  • Make sure to have a plan for the meeting so that you know what is expected of you and what information you are going to be looking for. 
  • An agenda will help keep things on track, leading to a more productive meeting.
  • Be professional
  • It  is not the time for an informal conversation or one-on-one time with the employee. Be professional and businesslike in your demeanor and interaction with them. 
  • Do not let your emotions get involved in the meeting—this can only lead to disappointment and frustration on both sides of the table.
  • Be prepared for questions
  • If there are specific questions from the employee that they would like answered or clarification on aspects you mentioned during your discussion, be sure to have your answers ready before beginning your questioning phase of the meeting. 
  • This will help to ensure that both of your time is spent answering questions, not just giving monologues about what has been done so far or what is going to happen next.

Probation Meeting Tips To Review Employees' Organizational Behavior

A probation review meeting or meeting with your employee is a great time to teach your employees about the company's expectations, company procedures, and the appropriate way to handle a situation. 

Motivate employees to attend the meeting by explaining the importance of teamwork and how it benefits the company. Start off by introducing yourself and explaining the purpose of the meeting. Then, review company expectations, procedures, and consequences for breaking behavioral guidelines.

Check out the tips to help you make the most of a probation review meeting:

1. Set clear expectations before the meeting

One of the initial steps in addressing a probation problem is to set expectations. You want to communicate to the team that you understand where they are at with their current challenges. This way, you can set realistic expectations for the meeting and address any concerns already on the team's mind. Do this by setting up a meeting agenda and adding a probation meeting agenda item. Include specific items on the agenda that address your expectations for the meeting, like the following: 

  •  What did we learn from our last review? 
  • What are some of our success stories? 
  •  What are some of our concerns? 
  •  What are some of our challenges? 
  •  What have we done to address those challenges?

2. Be Transparent about Weaknesses

Transparency is key to moving forward and finding solutions. However, nearly 90% of people are uncomfortable admitting their weaknesses to others. If you are unsure, try either of the following: "If you don't know, then don't guess. If you do, then don't be ashamed." 

Be honest about how weaknesses are negatively affecting your team. Auditing your team's strengths and weaknesses is an integral part of conducting an office probation review. It can aid you in identifying areas where your team can improve, as well as areas where they are already strong. In some cases, a team's weakness can even become an advantage if you use it to your advantage.


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3. Review Team Strengths and Benchmarks Them

Turn your attention to the team's strengths and begin to benchmark your team against them. This way, you'll be able to point out strengths and encourage your team to keep them top of mind during the probation review meeting—Benchmark against your team's strengths, not just what they are but also how they are doing. For example, if your team struggles to stay on top of their client meetings, benchmark them against the last six months of client meetings.



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4. Set Achievable Goals for the Meeting

Once you've been honest and transparent about the team's weaknesses, it's time to set some goals for the probation review meeting. The meeting agenda should include items on the agenda that address your team's strengths, challenges, and goals. You should also state these goals in the meeting notes. 

For example, you could write: 

  •  What are our quarterly goals for attendance?
  •  What are our weekly goals for quality output? 
  •  What are our goals for client satisfaction? 
  • What are our goals for improvement?
  •  What about individual goals?

This is not just some empty exercise; instead, it's one of the few opportunities your team will have to clearly communicate with the management why things have to be done a certain way. Every week, the team should come up with a few goals for the meeting. 

Some of them are about the areas where your office needs to improve, and some of them are about areas that can boost your office's productivity. For the first goal, you can decide to have a clear understanding of what went wrong and what other areas have to be improved. For the second goal, you can also decide to discuss other areas that can boost your office's productivity.

5. Don't be Afraid to Make Tough Calls

Every team has its strengths and weaknesses, which means that there will always be tough decisions to make. If the meeting concludes and you've identified areas for improvement, make sure to follow up with the team to find out how they plan to address them. 

If you don't receive a response, follow up again in two weeks. When teams don't respond to a probation review meeting, it means that they either agree with your decision to give them a six-month probation period or they don't see anything wrong with what they are doing:

  • Also, deliver to employees that a probation review meeting will be an opportunity to change their ways. Note that the department manager and the assistant manager reviews are the aspects to ponder upon to make the final decisions. So, you can only be the referee but not the players. 
  • This means that most of your decisions will be met with harsh criticism. And that's just the way it has to be. If you are afraid to make tough calls, then it will be reflected in the meeting. The team has to be able to do things differently; otherwise, the office will not improve. In the meeting, you have to be brave enough to say that you didn't sign up for this, and you have to tell the team what to change and stop doing.

6. Have a Wrap-up and Follow-up Afterward

The meeting is over. You can't really celebrate your accomplishments until everything is done. Discuss what goes well in your office and how to sustain that. This will not only boost the morale of your team, but it will show the management that your office is taking steps in the right direction. Make sure to follow up with the team after the meeting. Ask them to send you a report about what happened in the discussion and how it went. Your team should be eager to send you the report, so make sure to ask for it.


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A Guide to Probation Review Meeting Questions

Probation review meetings are a must for any human resources department. They are an opportunity to check the progress of employees on probation and give employees feedback at regular intervals.  With preparation, you can make these review meeting questions go off without a hitch! 

Let's check a few of the areas of questions that should come up during a probation review meeting and offer some solid answers that will keep things positive for both the employee being reviewed and your team as a whole. Keep yourself prepared with these questions: 

  • Where do you see the employee in their career?
  • Why is the employee being reviewed?
  • What have you observed in your interactions with them so far?
  • How are they meeting their responsibilities currently?
  • What is your perspective about the team's current performance?
  • What has the employee being reviewed been working on during their probation?
  • How do you assess an employee's progress while they're on probation?
  • How will you know if the employee is meeting their goals?
  • Has anything unexpected happened since the last review meeting?
  • What are your expectations for the next review meeting?

For employees under probation, you can keep yourself on the radar of these questions and information on the topics you may want to ask during the probation review meeting.

1. Why was I put on probation?

2. How do I know if it was effective?

3. How do I improve my performance?

4. What are my goals for the probation review meeting?

5. Is there anything I can do to earn early release?

6. How can I improve my case outcomes?

7. What are the most common violations someone would receive on probation?

8. How do I appeal a probation violation decision?

Final Thought

Probation meetings are an essential part of your leadership development. A probation review meeting is an excellent opportunity for you and your employee to improve working relationships by discussing how well the employee performs on the job. 

As you begin the process of building a culture of accountability in your organization and developing a team of people committed to each other and the company's mission, you will find that it becomes much easier to create an environment in which people want to stay on the team and succeed.

During this meeting, HR should provide feedback on the employee's progress during their probationary period, including any areas for improvement or areas of continued development. This feedback can help the employee refine their skills and abilities, so they can be better prepared for their next role with the company. You may also want to explore the idea of providing courses or other training opportunities to help the employee continue to grow.

The key is approaching the meeting with an open mind, admitting mistakes, and trying your best to make changes that will improve the team's productivity. With some preparation, you can get through these meetings with minimal stress and maximum impact.

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