Paul Eric Morse, CR
We have a 30-day, “see if there is a fit” period. During that month, both the company and the employee take the time to make sure expectations are being met.
We specifically avoid calling it a “probation” period, on the advice of our lawyer, who has advised us that the word implies a contract. If employees are under contract, there are more rigorous guidelines regarding discipline, firing, etc. We don't want to get tripped up over a formality or technicality.
We hire a lot of management-level employees, and the trial period for them is two months. That's enough time to assess their thinking skills, their level of motivation, their ability to get along with others, their leadership skills, their learning capacity — all the things you look for in an employee. If those attributes aren't there in two months, they're not going to be there in three. But two gives enough time for training and other adjustments to sink in.
Carpenters are different. If you've got a carpenter who doesn't know what he's doing, you'll know within a week. Giving even 30 days is a stretch with a carpenter.
Architectural Building Arts
Our probation period is two months long. Anything less than two months and it's hard to get a true perspective of the person. After the two months is up, at the next company meeting, we ask the “new” person to leave the room, and we open the floor up to discussion. We take a vote — it takes just one dissenting vote to keep the person from staying on with our company. It may sound a bit draconian, but it works for us. And if we can see that there is a problem and it's not working out with the new person, we try to address it before the meeting, to avoid as many awkward situations as we can.
We find this is helpful for any new hires, but it's especially important for our folks out in the field. We try to move them around so everyone gets a chance to work with them a bit before making a judgement.