How to Manage New Employees During Probationary Periods in Your Small Company

How to Manage New Employees During Probationary Periods in Your Small Company


pexels fauxels 3184291 - Your People Partners

Welcome to your small company’s guide on managing new employees during probationary periods. As a small business owner or manager, it’s crucial to make the most of your time while ensuring a smooth onboarding process for your new hires. In this article, we’ll explore effective strategies and best practices to help you navigate this critical phase. From setting expectations to providing support, we’ve got you covered.

Table of Contents

  1. Understanding Probationary Periods
  2. Setting Clear Expectations
  3. Onboarding and Orientation
  4. Providing Ongoing Training and Support
  5. Regular Check-ins and Performance Reviews
  6. Addressing Performance Issues
  7. Celebrating Achievements and Recognizing Growth
  8. Encouraging Collaboration and Engagement
  9. Fostering a Positive Work Culture
  10. Offering Opportunities for Development
  11. Extending Employment or Ending Probationary Periods

1. Understanding Probationary Periods

A probationary period is a predetermined timeframe during which both the employer and the new employee assess whether the role and the company are a good fit. It allows your new employee to demonstrate their skills and suitability for the position. It also provides you, the employer, an opportunity to evaluate their fit, performance and potential.

During this period, it’s essential to remember that new employees are likely to feel a mix of excitement and nervousness. Therefore, creating a supportive and inclusive environment is crucial for their success. By understanding the purpose and significance of probationary periods, you can better manage your new hires and set them up for long-term success with your company.

2. Setting Clear Expectations

One of the key factors in successfully managing your new employee during their probationary period is setting clear expectations from the start.

Clearly define:

  • Their job responsibilities
  • Performance metrics
  • Specific targets or goals they need to achieve.

This clarity will help both you and them to align expectations and work towards a shared vision.

Consider creating a probationary period overview or plan. Use it to outline your expectations, duration, and evaluation process. This plan can serve as an easy-reference point for both your employee and you, the manager, throughout the probationary period. By establishing clear guidelines, you can ensure that everyone is on the same page and working towards the same goals.

Be prepared to update the probationary period plan as you go. Review it each month or at regular periods with your new employee. If they’re doing well in their SEO link-building, then challenge them a little more in a another area that may not be part of the plan until later in the overview. If they’re ready, bring forward goals, and any areas where they may be struggling, identify what is needed to better support them.

3. Onboarding and Orientation

A well-structured onboarding and orientation process is essential for new employees to feel welcome and become productive quickly. Start by providing them with the necessary paperwork, including new starter form, handbook and any other relevant documents. This will help them feel confident in their employment and understand their rights and responsibilities.

Next, introduce your new employees to the company culture, values, and mission. Provide them with a tour of the office or virtual introduction to team members if working remotely. Assign them a mentor or buddy who can guide them through their initial days and answer any questions they may have. This support system will help them integrate into the team and feel valued from the start.

4. Providing Ongoing Training and Support

To help your new employees succeed, provide them with ongoing training and support throughout their probationary period. This can include job-specific training, professional development opportunities, and access to relevant resources. By investing in their growth and development, you demonstrate your commitment to their success and encourage a continuous learning mindset within your company.

Regularly check in with your new employees to gauge their progress and address any challenges they may be facing. Provide constructive feedback and guidance to help them improve and grow in their role. This open and supportive approach will not only boost their confidence but also strengthen their sense of belonging and loyalty to your company.

5. Regular Check-ins and Performance Reviews

Regular check-ins and performance reviews are crucial during probationary periods to assess your new employees’ progress and offer guidance. Schedule one-on-one meetings to discuss their performance, address any concerns, and provide feedback on their strengths and areas for improvement. These conversations should be constructive, encouraging, and focused on their growth.

Use these check-ins to align their goals with the company’s objectives and to ensure they are on track to meet the expectations set during the onboarding process. By maintaining open communication and providing ongoing support, you can help your new employees overcome any challenges they may encounter and thrive in their roles.

6. Address Performance Issues (As Quickly as Possible)

Sometimes, despite your best efforts, new employees may struggle to meet the expectations set during their probationary period. In such cases, it’s important to address performance issues promptly and effectively. Begin by identifying the root cause of the problem and provide targeted support and training to help them improve.

If the performance issues persist despite your efforts, it may be necessary to have a candid conversation about the employee’s future with the company. This conversation should be conducted with empathy and professionalism, ensuring that the employee understands the reasons behind the decision and the potential for improvement.

7. Celebrating Achievements and Recognizing Growth

While addressing performance issues is crucial, it’s equally important to celebrate achievements and recognize growth during the probationary period. Acknowledge and appreciate your new employees’ accomplishments, both big and small. This recognition will motivate them to continue performing at their best and foster a positive work culture.

Consider implementing an employee recognition program that rewards outstanding performance, dedication, and contributions. This can include monetary rewards, public recognition, or opportunities for career advancement within the company. By showing appreciation for their hard work, you create a supportive and motivating environment that encourages employee loyalty and engagement.

8. Encouraging Collaboration and Engagement

Building a strong sense of collaboration and engagement among your new employees is essential for their professional growth and job satisfaction. Encourage teamwork and create opportunities for cross-departmental collaboration. This can be achieved through team-building activities, projects, or regular knowledge-sharing sessions.

Additionally, foster an inclusive environment where everyone’s ideas and contributions are valued. Encourage open communication and provide platforms for employees to share their thoughts and suggestions. By involving your new employees in decision-making processes and valuing their perspectives, you create a sense of ownership and investment in the company’s success.

9. Fostering a Positive Work Culture

A positive work culture is vital for the success of your new employees and the overall well-being of your company. Cultivate a supportive and inclusive environment where everyone feels respected, valued, and safe to express their opinions. Lead by example and promote a healthy work-life balance to prevent burnout and foster employee satisfaction.

Encourage team-building activities, social events, and initiatives that promote employee well-being. This can include wellness programs, flexible work arrangements, or opportunities for personal development. By prioritizing your employees’ happiness and growth, you create a positive work culture that attracts and retains top talent.

10. Offering Opportunities for Development

Investing in your new employees’ professional development is crucial for their long-term success and satisfaction with your company. Provide them with opportunities to attend training sessions, conferences, or workshops relevant to their role. Encourage them to take on new responsibilities and projects that challenge and stretch their skills.

By offering opportunities for growth and career advancement, you demonstrate your commitment to their development and encourage them to envision a future within your organization. This not only helps retain talented employees but also positions your company as an employer of choice in the industry.

11. Extending or Ending Probationary Periods

At the end of the probationary period, it’s time to evaluate whether to extend employment or end the probationary period. If the new employee has met or exceeded expectations, pass their probationary period. Ensure any additional benefits that kick in once out of probationary period are applied to their employment such as a pay increase or health benefits. This decision should be communicated clearly and celebrated to make them feel valued and appreciated.

If the employee has not met the agreed-upon expectations during the probationary period despite your support and guidance, it may be necessary to end their employment. This decision should be handled with professionalism and empathy, ensuring that the employee understands the reasons behind it and providing any necessary support during the transition.

You should never get to the get to the end of a probationary period and ask an employee to leave without prior discussions. It should never be a surprise of your employee that you have a meeting at the end of 3 or 6 months and you ask them to leave because they’ve ‘haven’t done enough’. You will have known this during the preceding 3 or 6 months, so use the probationary period proactively. Discuss issues monthly and be proactive in your approach to any concerns throughout their initial months with you.

Be mindful that in England and Wales, you can only extend their probationary period is your employment agreement with them allow for this. And if you do extend it, share real clarity with them as to what your expectations are and how you’ll help them get there.


Managing new employees during probationary periods in a small company requires careful planning, effective communication, and ongoing support. By setting clear expectations, providing comprehensive onboarding and training, and offering regular feedback and recognition, you can create an environment where new employees can thrive and contribute to your company’s success.

Remember, every new employee is an opportunity for growth and innovation. Embrace their potential, invest in their development, and create a workplace culture that fosters collaboration, engagement, and continuous learning. By doing so, you not only ensure the success of your new hires but also strengthen your company’s team, culture and future success.

Now that you have a comprehensive understanding of how to manage new employees during probationary periods, it’s time to put these strategies into action and set your small company up for long-term success. Good luck!

author avatar
Helen Sanders Managing Director and Chief People Partner
Was this article helpful?
Picture of Report on iPhone - Your People Partners

How do your recruitment processes stack up?

Curious about whether your existing recruitment and retention processes are helping or hindering your company growth? 

This free 4-min quiz will spot the hiring mistakes and give you implementable strategies to more easily grow your team.


Related Articles

22 May 2024
As a small business owner, you wear many hats – and one of the most important is bringing new talent onboard. An effective onboarding program...
Hiring Essentials
13 March 2024
Attracting the right talent for finance and accounting positions in your company is critical for maintaining accurate and robust financial management. An effective job post...
Hiring Essentials
7 March 2024
Imagine you’re at the helm of your own business with a vision that keeps you up at night, excited for the day ahead. Small business...