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Probation Period

Processes, scripts and scenarios to handle typical issues in the workplace.

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Lily joined the company in a newly created role as site administrator just over 2 months ago.  Whilst Lily appears to be settling in well her work is not quite where you expect it to be.  Lily has missed a few deadlines and her attention to detail is poor at times but on the other hand, she has really connected the team and reduced the turnaround time on contract administration significantly.  You can’t quite work out what is going on but feel Lily is trying hard and you would like her to succeed. It is better to give feedback now and potentially resolve the situation rather than wait any longer. Your key question is really is Lily the right fit for the role?


You spent some time recruiting and even getting approval for the new role and feel that Lily is doing well. Perhaps there is something else going on that you don’t know about but you also wonder if you got the recruitment right? Lily always comes to work with a smile on her face and there is no doubt she is busy but, is she working on the right things and does she have the strength to say no to demanding co-workers? You decide to catch up with her and have an informal discussion on how she is settling in to try and get some clarity on the situation.

  • Book a meeting with your employee at a specific time and day for no longer than around 30-45 minutes.
  • Send an email or text inviting them to the meeting. In the invitation make it clear that the meeting is to discuss the performance in their role.
  • Offer the option of bringing a support person if they wish to. A support person is a witness to the conversation. They do not speak and do not have an opinion. They are there to observe and then document their version of events without further discussion.
  • If you have HR within the business it is advisable that they attend the meeting as well.


You meet with Lily and she is clearly nervous so you spend time getting her to relax. You ask how she is settling in. Is there anything challenging her? How has she found the team? Does she need any support in her role? Lily was guarded at the beginning but starts to open up and mentions that she is unclear on role responsibility. There is another employee who sometimes does some of the tasks that Lily thinks fall within her own role.  Lily is also finding it difficult to meet deadlines when people seem to give her ad-hoc tasks which she is more than willing to assist with.

  • At the commencement of the meeting only state facts. Let your employee know you are meeting to seek clarification and understanding around a few incidents or behaviors that are concerning for you.
  • Link the behavior where possible back to company policies and procedures.
  • You can only use specific factual examples. It is not appropriate to raise anything that cannot be supported.
  • Be sure not to accuse your employee of anything and merely ask questions with the sole intent of seeking to understand their version of events to ensure that there is nothing that you are currently unaware of that explains or has contributed to the behavior/actions.


You quickly realise that the role you employed Lily for is not as clearly defined to the team as you had thought. You recognise after listening to Lily that the majority of staff think that Lily has been employed to help them with their admin work and that the handover in some elements of the role was not done well.

4. ACT

You explain to Lily that there does seem to be some confusion over her role and that you will clear that up. You then mention to Lily that it is important when feeling overwhelmed or unsure to speak up as the company is there to help and if you don’t speak up people may misunderstand the situation. You clearly outline what is expected of Lily in her role. Explain you will manage those around her and the expectations but need Lily to focus on the roles you agree are hers and if the request for work outside that scope continues that you would appreciate her letting you know as soon as possible.

  • Be very clear and specific with what is expected of all parties.
  • It is best practice to document the outcomes of the meeting and where possible all parties (that is the company and the employee) sign to acknowledge an understanding of the conversation and agreement on a path forward.


You agree with Lily that you will meet again in two weeks to check how things are going, You explain that it will take time to get everyone used to having a new role but it is critical for both Lily and the business that her role is clearly defined so everyone can be successful.

  • Where a follow-up is required, the date and time must be set and agreed upon at the conclusion of this meeting. The meeting should not be altered unless there is an emergency on the day.
  • The meeting should be set in the future allowing enough time for a “change of behaviour”. A reasonable timeframe, depending on the behaviour to be altered, is two weeks.

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