Chapter 6: Probationary Period
The probationary period should be used to ensure that the applicant selected is qualified to perform the job and achieve regular status. During this period, you should carefully evaluate the employee's performance and general suitability for University employment. To make this decision, you will develop and communicate performance standards and objectives, set aside time to observe the employee, provide feedback, and evaluate the employee.
- Guiding Principles
- During Probation
- Extending the Probationary Period
- Release During the Probationary Period
- Training Resources
- When to Evaluate
The probationary period can:
- Help the employee achieve training goals and performance objectives
- Ensure that the employee has all the tools to perform the job successfully
- Help the employee develop the skills needed to perform the job
- Confirm that the best qualified person was chosen for the position
- Foster a mutual understanding of expectations, standards of performance, and the evaluation process
- Help the employee achieve regular status
During the probationary period the new employee needs as much support as possible. This is a very crucial time for you and the employee, so set aside plenty of time to:
- Provide the employee with a clear job description.
- Provide clear performance standards so the employee understands what is expected and how they will be measured.
- Acquaint the employee with office procedures and practices.
- Schedule the employee for the New Employee Orientation through the Development and Training Unit in HR.
- Provide a good systematic departmental orientation for the new employee. (See Chapter 5, New Employee Orientation.)
- Explain how and when the employee will be evaluated.
- Provide follow-up sessions as often as necessary so the employee can adjust to their new working environment.
- Provide a desk manual (if available).
- Tell the employee in advance when their probationary period will be over and explain what it means to become a regular status employee.
- Evaluate the employee's performance in accordance with applicable policies, procedures, and contracts.
- Show a continuing interest in the new employee (it's not enough to explain terms and conditions of employment and leave the employee to make it from there alone).
Extending the Probationary Period
Under extraordinary circumstances, the employee's probationary period may be extended. Extensions can be the result of a significant change in responsibilities or supervision without benefit of adequate time to assess the incumbent. There are usually notice requirements before the period would normally end. Consult the appropriate contract or policy for implementation.
Release During the Probationary Period
Questions to ask yourself before you release an employee during the probationary period
- Has the employee attended the New Employee orientation program?
- Has the employee received an orientation to the unit and department?
- Has the employee received clear performance standards?
- Has the employee had sufficient time to understand the job duties and demonstrate performance level?
- Has the less-than-satisfactory progress been discussed with the employee? Has it been documented in a performance appraisal?
- Has the employee had sufficient time to correct the deficiency? In the case of poor work habits, did the employee know that the behavior was totally unsatisfactory?
What You Should Do
Now that you have determined that the employee should be released you should:
- Consult your Labor & Employee Relations Analyst.
- Consult your department head and, if necessary, get approval for the release.
- Review and follow the appropriate staff policy or contract.
- Provide a timely written notice of release in accordance with the appropriate policy or contract.
Recommended training resources are available to help you understand your role within the policies and laws that govern your actions as a supervisor. Recommended courses included: "Supervising Within the Law", and the on-line course "OLPPS Policy". You can enroll for these and other courses at: http://training.ucsf.edu/.
When to Evaluate
Probation is the most critical period to assess your employee. At the end of the probationary period, you should have complete confidence that your employee meets or exceeds performance standards; to know that, you must evaluate job performance. (See Chapter 7, Performance Management.) Probationary employees should be evaluated as frequently as is specified in the applicable personnel policy or collective bargaining agreement.