The 90-Day Check Up and No Surprises!

We frequently hear from our HR contacts how frustrating it is when, after several months, a manager reports that an employee is “not working out” (to be clear, we aren’t talking about staff provided by us!)  The time wasted and productivity squandered by unaddressed work performance issues cost companies time and money, and cause frustration in the workplace.  Typically, employees wait an entire year before receiving a meaningful review of their fitness in an annual performance evaluation.  This prolonged communication void is a disservice to both the employee and the company and drives HR departments crazy!

Implementing a 90-day performance review policy creates an early warning system and prevents running afoul of one of our most cherished management mantras: No Surprises for anyone in any action we take as an employer.  What happens when we violate this mantra?  Consider the common scenario in which a manager concludes after nine months, or a year, that an employee is just not cutting it and recommends termination.  When asked how long the substandard performance has persisted, the answer is “Pretty much from the day he started.”  Boom!  Big surprise for the employee, the manager’s management chain and HR.  Think about the valuable time, productivity, effort and money wasted!  Can your organization afford that?

This wasteful scenario could have been prevented with a 90-day review process that makes it possible to:

· determine whether the new employee’s performance meets the standards expected by the manager
· make mid-course corrections in performance that can enhance the possibility of success and limit the chance of that dreaded surprise
· get the employee’s feedback about whether his/her expectations and career aspirations align with their work and responsibilities

The performance areas assessed and the level of detail in the written review can be very basic.  The face-to-face meeting and the exchange of information is, by far, the most valuable product of this process.  Rate job knowledge, communication/interpersonal skills, initiative, productivity, dependability and judgment, and limit ratings to Exceeds, Meets or Does Not Meet Expectations.  No need for a 5- or 10-point scale.  Include a summary statement clarifying if continued employment is recommended on the 90-day review rating form.

We urge you to implement a 90-day review process.  It will improve the productivity and morale of your new arrivals, prevent unnecessary surprises and preserve your precious resources.  We also recommend a 90-day review for temp-to-hire arrangements.  It forces inspection of a temp’s potential and enables the company to make a sound decision regarding continued employment, with fewer strings attached!