How probation should be assessed

week Greg Savage spoke at the RCSA 2015 International Conference on the
topic of ‘The
DNA of the Recruiter of the Future


finished with two key messages: 

Always be hiring

2. The
people with the best people will win. Do you have the best people?


I agree
strongly with both of these points. The second point has been one of the
core areas of my work with clients over the twelve years of my
self-employment as a coach in this industry.


I have
written extensively on how, as an industry, we can make better hiring
decisions with our own staff. I am now working closely with clients to
improve their own onboarding and induction processes in order to
maximise the chances that the person hired succeeds quickly, not slowly
(or not at all!).


area that many recruitment agency owners and managers have struggled
with has been the ‘stay or go’ decision at the end of the probation
period. This indecision is evidenced by the number of rookie recruiters
who have had their probation period extended. This approach is rarely
ideal. In most cases it is a crutch for the hiring manager being
ineffective at understanding exactly what needs to be at a satisfactory
level for the rookie to be confirmed as a permanent employee.


what I suggest needs to be carefully evaluated by the end of any
probation period: 

  1. Behaviour  :
    This is the cultural alignment aspect of the person’s tenure to
    date. Have they, for example, been reliable, respectful of others
    and open to feedback and coaching? If not, have you given them the
    feedback and told them exactly what your expectations are?

  2. Skills  :
    This is the core technical capability of doing the job of the
    recruiter. Can they, for example, screen candidates, interview,
    search the database, write a job ad, take a job brief and manage
    client & candidate expectations? If not, have you given them the
    feedback and coached them sufficiently to improve their skills?

  3. Activities:  

    This represents the high pay-off activities that need to be
    undertaken in order to succeed as a recruiter. For a 360 degree
    recruiter this will, typically be activities such as prospect calls
    & meetings, client calls & meetings and candidates referred to jobs.
    These activities need to be at a specified minimum number and
    directed at the right contacts in an organisation.

  4. Results  :
    These are the desired outcomes of the high-pay off activities. The
    most obvious, and easiest to measure, are placement fees and
    temp/contractor net income. Other results could include such things
    as new clients won, contingent jobs converted to exclusive and
    lapsed clients being won back. These results need to be specific and

suggest you evaluate your rookies in the order I have listed with a
weighting such as this:



out of 6


out of 5


out of 5


out of 4


out of 20  


I make
this recommendation for the simple reason that they logically follow
each other.


If the
rookie has the right behaviour you have a sound foundation on which to
build the right skills. Having the right skills is a sound foundation on
which to build effective high pay-off activities. Having a consistent
record of undertaking the effective high pay-off activities will, almost
certainly, lead to the right results being delivered consistently.


what do most owners make an end-of-probation decision on?


guessed it – results.


should definitely not be ignored; they are important but not the most


Behaviour is built on a person’s character and your culture, whether you
like it or not, is defined, not by the average of everybody’s behaviour,
but by the behaviour of the worst behaving person   in your team or
company. If that person does not change for the better, or is not exited
from the business then your culture is defined by that person.


If you
start with focusing on, and assessing, the right behaviour you have the
best chance of finishing, in the long run, with the best results.


If you
start with focusing on, and assessing, the right results, you are
vulnerable to the wrong behaviours causing substantial long term damage;
damage that clearly costs you more than the results that person is

1 Comment

  1. Anonymous on 11/09/2015 at 2:21 am

    An employee's probation should only ever be as long as the relevant unfair dismissal protection (ie – either 6 months for over 15 employees or 12 months for under 15 employees). Any longer than that doesn't serve anyone any good as if you want to remove them after that time frame, its drawn out and problematic to do so via the performance management path. If you haven't assessed an employee is any good for the business within the first 3 months – they're not the right fit/hire.

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