Heera Training & Management Consultants

eNewsletter March 2009

Dear Everyone,
Hi! And how are you all? I do apologize for the slight delay in sending this newsletter. I was very busy in February due to various reasons. The highlight last month was a trip to Penang with the senior management team of a very well run local company. Travelling in a luxury bus with the senior management staff was fun and gave me a chance to build rapport even before I set foot in the classroom. I enjoyed the training very much as they were a really great bunch of people who most certainly went back with plenty of ideas to make their organization more efficient and effective.

This month, I want to talk about probationary periods and how it can be managed more effectively. Probationary periods are crucial periods, both, for new employees as well as organizations. It can be likened to a ‘courtship’ where both parties have equal rights and want to know if there are grounds for a long-term relationship. It allows the two parties to ‘feel and test each other out’, to ascertain compatibility. For the relationship to work, both parties have to be very clear about their requirements and needs so as to make the ‘right’ decision. 

A wrong decision by any one party could spell disaster for the whole relationship in a probationary period

Sadly most organizations do not utilize this period effectively. In fact, this probationary period is probably one of the most neglected exercises in organizations. There are many instances of new employees reporting for work, who are only given the privilege of a twenty minutes ‘chat’ with the immediate superior, before being dispatched to their work site. And then, although given very basic guidance, are expected to perform their jobs effectively. It is no wonder that many ‘good’ employees who go through this haphazard process get disillusioned and leave.

The major problem associated with the probationary period is the fact that managers and supervisors alike, consider it a chore. They want the new employee to prove his worth, rather than helping and coaching him reach the expected standards. So in a sense, the new employees are left to fend on their own. This can be quite stressful, as the new employee is not only learning the tasks of the new job but in the process are adapting to the new routines, new systems, new environment and new friends. Hence there is a lot of anxiety experienced, which will most certainly impede their ability to learn to do the job well.

Some of the things that organizations could do to make probationary periods more effective and less stressful are:

· Arrangement of a systematic orientation program for the new employee.
· Provision of a clear and concise job description. This is important, not only in the sense that it provides a clear guideline for the employee, but also provides a basis for the company to evaluate the individual’s performance.
· Provision of clear and unambiguous standards of performance so that the employees will be aware of company’s expectations. They must also be made aware of how their performance will be evaluated and measured.
· Familiarize the employee with work and office procedures and practices. This will be invaluable so as to prevent mistakes, due to new employees employing previously learnt methods of doing certain tasks.
· Coach them, because what they may have done in their previous organizations could be completely different to what is expected of them in their new organization, although job titles may be the same.

Probationary periods are useful tools to ensure ‘correct’ staffing of organizations. Full advantage must therefore be taken to ensure that its objectives are met to the satisfaction of both parties. Organizations, which conduct it well, will reap the dividends by employing the ‘right’ people, while those who don’t, will pay the price by having a high staff turnover, and in the process losing competent and capable employees.

Thanks for taking the time to read this. I do hope I have added a little more to your management knowledge. Take care and have a great month ahead!!