Probationary review procedures

Who carries out the reviews and when?

Normally the Head of Department together with the Divisional Secretary will conduct the review meetings.

The initial review meeting should occur after the Administrator has been in post for three months, followed by a review halfway through the probationary period and a final review completed around three months before the end of the probationary period. This process will be complemented by the day-to-day interaction between the Administrator and the Head of Department (and/or Divisional Secretary), which will allow any issues that arise to be addressed promptly and informally. If issues are identified, more frequent review meetings should be considered.

Principles for the initial and interim probationary reviews

The Head of Department should arrange the meeting and ensure the Administrator is provided with the Review Preparation Form (form B), in advance, and is given adequate time to prepare (at least two weeks). The Administrator should also have a copy of Form A, which outlines the objectives set within the first month of employment.

Before the meeting the Head of Department or Divisional Secretary should seek opinions on the Administrator's performance from suitable officers, e.g.:

  • The Divisional Accountant;
  • The relevant HR Business Partner in Personnel Services;
  • The departmental contact in Research Services; Estates Services;The Safety Office; and,
  • Any other Heads of Department or Associated Units for whom the Administrator has responsibilities.

These opinions should form part of the overall consideration of the Administrator’s performance during their probationary period.

The completed Form B should be returned to the Head of Department prior to the meeting.

The review meeting

The Head of Department and the Divisional Secretary should discuss the views of colleagues before the meeting and ensure that they have the following documents at the meeting:

During the meeting the Head of Department should:

  • invite the Administrator to discuss his/her performance in terms of the core responsibilities, objectives and demands of the post;
  • give constructive feedback (with examples) on progress, achievements, and performance;
  • assess how the set objectives have been met;
  • discuss any concerns over the Administrator’s performance openly and thoroughly and develop a plan of action that will enable the Administrator to reach a satisfactory level of performance;
  • agree/revise future objectives, relating them to departmental objectives;
  • discuss any training and development needs; and,
  • set a date for the next review.

After the review discussion

The Head of Department should promptly record the main points/actions arising from the discussion using Form B, which should then be shared with the Administrator to ensure their agreement with the written summary.

If the Administrator is progressing well and no significant concerns have been raised, the record of the discussion should be retained on file for review before the final meeting.  A copy should be sent to the DAP officer in Personnel Services for retention on the University’s central file.

However, if the review highlights any problems or concerns, the Head of Department should ensure the Administrator is clear on what the issues are and what should be achieved before the next review meeting. The Administrator should be made aware of the support available to them in the form of training, their mentor or the University Occupation Health Service. Further advice can be sought from the relevant HR Business Partner.

End of probation

The process to follow for the final review is that outlined above.

After the final review, if the Head of Department and Divisional Secretary are satisfied that the Administrator has completed the probation successfully, they should write an assessment report (with reference to form B). This should contain a brief summary of the Administrator's performance over the whole probationary period drawn from the previous review record forms and it should recommend that the appointment be confirmed. This should be sent to the Registrar via the DAP. If the Registrar is satisfied, the DAP will issue a letter confirming the Administrator in post.

Dealing with concerns about performance

Section 8.2 of the staff handbook for academic-related staff explains the formal procedures to be followed in dealing with concerns about performance.

Please note that only the Registrar has formal authority to dismiss an Administrator; the letter of authority given to Heads of Department specifically excludes these appointments.

Extending a probation period

If, following due process and appropriate support to the Administrator, performance concerns remain at the final review, three months before the end of the probationary period, an extension may be considered. This is only appropriate if there is reason to believe that the performance concerns can be addressed, given a little more time. The relevant HR Business Partner should be consulted and the procedure set out in section 8.2 of the staff handbook for academic-related staff should be followed. Further guidance on the extension of a probationary period can be found here.