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Get the best performance from your employees by implementing a probation period

by , 25 April 2013
Moving an existing employee into a new role can be tricky. You think he'll perform a certain way based on his previous role in your company, but he just doesn't meet your expectations. But it's a bad idea to threaten dismissal, as Russian President Vladimir Putin has just done. One way to avoid this situation is to implement a probation period not only for new employees but also for anyone who's promoted into a new position in your company. It's the simplest way to nip poor performance in the bud - but it's YOUR responsibility to make sure the employee gets all the guidance he needs...

Thought your company had the worst performing employees? 
You're wrong. 
Russian President Vladimir Putin has criticised the performance of government officials in a scathing video, says Radio Free Europe.
In it, Putin told several cabinet ministers that their efforts amounted to nothing, adding that the officials needed to recognise their poor performance, threatening that 'if you are working poorly, then you should go.'
If you're tempted to follow Putin's strategy, you need to stop and think.
Because when you dismiss an employee, you have to prove you had a good reason to do so. 
And when an employee is performing poorly, you're dealing with the employee's capacity rather than his conduct, explains the Labour Law for Managers Loose Leaf.
This means you need to manage the poor performance through a performance management procedure rather than through a disciplinary procedure meant for misconduct. 
The first step in doing so is checking that your expectations of your employee's performance are fair. 
Make your expectations of your employee's performance clear upfront…
This way, you'll be able to check that he's performing his work to a satisfactory standard. 
Then, if you can prove you've set reasonable standards for your employee's performance, you'll be able to dismiss the employee for poor performance as a form of incapacity, adds the Labour Law for Managers Loose Leaf.
One way of doing so is to give your employee a fair opportunity to meet the required performance standard.
So whether it's a new employee learning new responsibilities or an existing employee that's suddenly faced with new tasks, you need to make sure you give him  a reasonable period of time to get up to scratch and meet your performance standards.
That's why many companies state that any new position comes with a 'probation period' – typically three months – in which employees are given the time and training to meet the expected performance standards for a specific position.
Putting an employee on probation means you'll also be able to check whether he's suitable for the job and to evaluate his performance before confirming permanent employment. 
The secret to getting the best performance from your employee on probation
But it's not just up to the employee – you'll need to work with him to monitor and correct areas of poor performance by providing the necessary guidance, counselling and training.
Just remember to make the new position dependent on the employee proving himself in the job by telling him upfront and in writing that he'll go back to his old position or risk dismissal if he doesn't make the grade in the probation period, explains the Labour Law for Managers Loose Leaf.
Simple as that.

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