Eight questions to ask your new members of staff once they pass probation

    So, you have hired someone, their probation period has ended and you are having a meeting to ask them how they are doing and to let them know they are now an official member of the team (yes, you really should have a meeting to confirm all of this!)

    Having had to do a few of these recently, my meetings went a little bit like this…

    Me: I’m glad to let you know that I’m really happy with your performance and with how things are going and that you have successfully completed your probation.Them: That’s great. Thanks.Me: So, how are things going from your perspective?Them: Good.Me: Happy?Them: Yes thanks.Me: Anything else?Them: No.Me: OK, I think we are done then.

    I knew the meetings were pretty rubbish, and that I should probably be taking the opportunity to find out more, mentor and get to know the person better. But to be honest I was too busy and just glad to get the extra time back in my schedule.

    There has been a lot of structural change in the business over the last year and one of the decisions that we made was to hire a business coach to work with people to help them get to the next level, give them additional skills and to feel more confident in their roles.

    In one of my meetings with the ‘coach’, we talked about the lack of structure I had in my meetings with the new team members and all of the opportunities I was missing to find out more about the business, and more importantly the person in front of me.

    We came up with some questions, and his only coaching to me was to ask the questions and then be quiet. Be very quiet. No leading, no prompting, ask and sit back.

    The first meeting I used them in was awesome. It was reassuring to have a structure; I learned a lot about our new hire and got some useful insights into the person and also what was going on in the business.

    Here are the eight questions:

    1. What has happened in the first three/six months that you weren’t expecting?

      • You get to find out if they are happy, if the job is actually what they thought it was, if it is harder or easier?
    2. What has gone well during the first three/six months?

      • Brings a positive focus, a pat on the back, an opportunity for them to tell you everything they have accomplished.
    3. What has not gone as well as you would have hoped?

      • This may highlight training issues and things that the business hasn’t done as well as it should have, plus gives an opportunity to talk about things that they haven’t accomplished.
      • If there is a mismatch in expectations then it should come up here. If they don’t mention they are struggling, then this is your time to mention it if you think that they aren’t doing well in their role
    1. If we achieve our business goals in the next 3 years, what do you see your role as being?

      • What direction do they want their career to take?
    2. What are your goals?

      • Do they have goals outside your business that may impact the decisions they make? Do they trust you enough to tell you?
    3. How much more capacity do you have?

      • Are they too busy? Or have they not got enough to do?
    4. Can I ask you a personal question? What’s going on in the business that I should know about?

      • Are they astute? Will they be honest with you? Whatever they say, don’t react negatively or they will never tell you anything again.
    5. If I could give you a magic wand what would you change?

      • It could be a great idea, an opportunity for the business to change something or an endorsement of what a great job the teams are already doing.

    Now rather than having that sinking feeling when I see a review meeting in my schedule, I am excited to find out more about the person, and maybe something new about our business.

    So… I’ve just got a few questions for you.

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