A 90 day probationary period and review is customary in many companies. And it may be company policy, so go ahead and follow it. But, don’t expect it to be effective in the orientation or development of your new team members.
Ninety days is an incredibly long time to a new employee:
- Many of their routines have been set,
- their place in office politics has been initialized,
- their best face is still on but they’ve figured out how things work and where they can cut corners (not necessarily to be lazy, just to get everything done)
- they’ve accepted where they believe they can excel and what will be stumbling blocks
- they’ve learned your style and what they think you expect, and
- they are waiting to pass that 90 day mark, so they can let their guard down a little.
What’s so magical about 90 days?
Instead, the dialog needs to start during the hiring process, continue during orientation and turn into concrete, usable feedback very early in their employment.
The conversation that communicates to an employee that we are excited to have you here, we’re energized about our ambitious company goals, we wish to help you best use and build upon your strengths, develop in your areas of weakness, access your potential and help you to continually contribute in new and exciting ways to this organization.
You do not want an employee to try their best, fail in several areas, hear at 90 days whether or not they still have a job, and if they do, worry about their review in a year, and hope they get a raise at that time.
At two weeks after their start date, every employee should receive written feedback about their progress. This does not mean you expect them to know every task or be proficient at this time. It is as simple as:
- Here are three areas in which you have done particularly well in your first two weeks.
- And here are three areas where I would like you to focus most in the next two weeks.
At four weeks of employment, they should again receive very similar written feedback.
This should continue monthly for 90 days. This is an incredibly important time to build a foundation and set the tone. Create the positive, determined and forward-looking dialog!