A Supervisor's Step-By-Step Probation Guide

The next couple of months could be the most important in your new employee's career:

See this Probation Guide to learn why...


A San Francisco State University- California State University Employees' Union (CSUEU) collaboration



You have put much thought and energy into recruiting and selecting the best candidate for the job. And the successful applicant accepted the offer to work for San Francisco State University . Now it is your responsibility to ensure adequate orientation, training, and performance evaluation in order to assess whether he or she can actually do the work.

The probationary period is considered an extension of the hiring process. The new employee must pass this test of performance to become a permanent CSU employee with security and the rights of permanent status.

The probation process is often misunderstood. Supervisors are prone to take a wait-and-see attitude instead of taking an active role in training and evaluating the employee during the probationary period. These months may be the most important time for the future success of your department.

Do yourself and your department a favor: Make good use of CSU's long experience in addressing CSUEU employee concerns. The cautions and recommendations in this guide grow out of those experiences.

Review this Probation Guide and be sure to call on Human Resources at the first hint of a problem. CSU/CSUEU contract sections are inserted parenthetically for reference.

The first step is to be sure you have given the new employee an accurate, official job description that reflects the skills and abilities outlined in the job posting and clearly indicates what the job duties are and the approximate percentage of time spent on each one. This is the document that will be used to evaluate the employee's performance. Obviously you must know what these duties are if you are to evaluate them accurately.

Remember that employees are entitled to:


Be provided with a position description within one week of initial hire and a copy, signed by the employee, should be placed in the employee's official personnel file. [Contract 17.7]

Seek clarification of their duties and responsibilities. Such clarification shall be provided in writing. [Contract 17.6]

Be provided with a revised position description at least seven (7) days prior to its effective date. Position descriptions shall reflect the employee's assigned duties and responsibilities. [Contract 17.7]

Request, in writing, a meeting with the appropriate administrator to discuss a position description, reassignment or work assignment. Such a meeting shall not be unreasonably denied. [Contract 17.8]



As the evaluator, you should conduct an evaluation by the end of the third, sixth, and eleventh month of the probationary period [Contract 10.4]. Each report will cover the employee's job performance, his or her personal conduct, and his or her ability to handle responsibility - measured against the standards of the position in which they are working [Contract 10.1].

Please note: the evaluator may be the supervisor, lead person, or the appropriate administrator, but in every case must be someone who is familiar with the regular duties of the position [Contract 10.12]. The employee is to be given a draft evaluation for his/her review, input and discussion [Contract 10.6]. He or she will have five days to review the draft and provide input, if any, to the evaluator [Contract 10.7]. The evaluator will consider the employee's input in preparing the final performance evaluation, and prior to placing it in the official personnel file [Contract 10.8]. Upon request, the employee can meet with the evaluator [Contract 10.9], and if desired, he or she can later meet with the appropriate administrator [Contract 10.10]. If the employee still disagrees with the evaluation, he or she has the right to submit a rebuttal statement that shall be attached. The evaluation will be reconsidered in light of the rebuttal statement and may be amended. [Contract 10.11]



First impressions count. Set work standards for the employee based on the assigned duties and your expectations.

Check this list frequently:

_____ 1. From time to time, I give the employee feedback on how he/she is doing. I keep a written record of my and his/her comments for future reference.

_____ 2. I have provided the employee an official position description and regularly review performance expectations with the employee.

_____ 3. Does the employee appear to be behind schedule in achieving his/her goals?

_____ 4. For the employee falling behind, did I take time to discuss his/her problems and help him/her get back on track?

_____ 5. The employee has acquired official information about sick leave policy and procedures; he or she has learned the procedure for calling in sick to the proper person at the proper time.

_____ 6. The employee keeps personal phone calls to a minimum.

_____ 7. The employee is not tardy or AWOL.

_____ 8. The employee works every day to meet the unit's standards in quality and quantity.

_____ 9. I refer frequently to the Performance Dimensions [see below] on which the employee will be evaluated during probation. The employee demonstrates skills, abilities, knowledge and experience required as prerequisites for hire.

The employee's work performance will determine whether he or she obtains permanent employee status. Frequently review this list of the Performance Dimensions on which you will be evaluating the employee.



(SFSU is responsible for establishing the performance evaluation dimensions and has incorporated CSUEU suggestions)

KNOWLEDGE OF POLICIES, PROCEDURES AND PROGRAMS:  Demonstrates organizational awareness; knows administrative policies and procedures; has knowledge of business practices; provides accurate information on policies and procedures; makes information easily accessible to all members of the campus community.

SKILLS AND ABILITIES:  For purposes of completing the evaluation form, the evaluator chooses 4 of the following areas on which to evaluate the employee. Evaluators may identify other relevant criteria if desired.

Analytical and Data Analysis:  Recognizes what information is critical; plans and conducts research and analyses in a deliberate and comprehensive manner; presents results in a clear and concise manner.

Communication:  Writes clearly; edits work for spelling and grammar; presents numerical data effectively; expresses thoughts clearly, verbally and in writing; seeks out and develops productive work relationships; listens with empathy, responds diplomatically; responds accurately and promptly to questions; listens and gets clarification.

Leading Others:  Prioritizes and plans work activities of others to meet unit, department and college priorities and timelines; efficiently; motivates others towards common goals, integrates changes, demonstrates ability to coach, mentor, train and develop others.

Information Technology:  Demonstrates ability to create, edit, format letters, tables and other documents; demonstrates ability to create newsletters or brochures; demonstrates ability to create, edit and format effective slide presentations incorporating video, audio and graphics; demonstrates ability to create and publish a web page using HTML or an easy-to-use authoring application; demonstrates ability to create spreadsheets, use calculations, generate charts and graphs

Judgment; Problem Solving; And Decision Making:  Gathers relevant data; evaluates information based on appropriate standards; synthesizes facts, concepts and principles; alerts appropriate persons to emerging problems; is willing to make and take responsibility for decisions; consults with appropriate people; supports and explains reasoning for decisions; makes timely decisions.

Team Work:  Balances individual and unit responsibilities; gives and welcomes feedback; contributes to building a  “user-friendly” environment, ensures cooperation and cohesion, facilitates groups in decision-making process.

Project Coordination: Develops plans; coordinates projects; communicates changes and progress; completes projects on time on budget.

Work Practices (includes attendance, punctuality, safety, organization of work area):   Schedules time off in advance unless an emergency dictates otherwise; follows department procedures for requesting and reporting use of leave; ensures work responsibilities are covered when absent or apprises supervisor of pending responsibilities or upcoming deadlines; arrives at appointments and meetings on time.  Utilizes appropriate safety measures, maintains a professional and orderly work environment.

Self-Development/Career Planning:  Seeks opportunities for professional development; identifies opportunities to contribute to organizational goals; is willing to learn new skills.

Contributions To Campus, CSU, Community, If Applicable:  Contributions toward achievement of strategic planning, college, department and unit goals.

QUALITY: Demonstrates accuracy and thoroughness; displays commitment to excellence; looks for ways to improve and promote quality; applies feedback to improve performance; monitors own work to ensure quality.

USER FRIENDLY INTERACTIONS:  Acts/behaves in a manner that reflects respect, courtesy and civility, appreciation, empathy, trust, inclusion and consultation.  Understands lines of reporting, responsibility, and accountability.  Provides accurate information; makes information easily accessible to all members of the campus community.  (Refer to P530Cfor full text of SFSU User Friendly Principles) (Note: while employees are expected to be courteous and tactful, they are to be treated with dignity and respect and should be encouraged to refer problems or difficult interactions to the supervisor or appropriate administrator. Additionally, employees should be advised of other resources on Campus to whom they can refer problems, i.e., CSUEU, Counseling, Student Discipline, Human Relations, Human Resources and Public Safety.)

QUANTITY: Completes work in a timely manner; strives to increase productivity.

PLANNING AND RESULTS: Prioritizes and plans work activities to meet unit, department and college priorities and timelines; identifies needed resources; plans and utilizes existing and new resources efficiently; accommodates multiple demands for commitment of time energy and resources; adapts to changing priorities, situations and demands; integrates changes.

CREATIVITY AND INNOVATION: Engages in creative problem solving; thinks “globally”; knows how to reengineer processes; is open and receptive to new ideas.



This could be the most important evaluation you make during this employee's probationary period. By the time the first evaluation is done, you will have a pretty good idea if the employee has the qualifications to be successful in the position. Crucial in the first evaluation is whether or not the employee has clearly demonstrated the abilities and skills required in the job posting and included in the position description. If you are not fully convinced either way, the first evaluation is the time to evaluate what is needed to bring the performance up to speed.

Date First Evaluation Given ________________________

_____If any “improvement needed” or “below expectations” ratings were given, set up a meeting with the employee to fully explain how the employee can improve in these areas. Together with the employee, construct a plan that will support him or her in reaching these objectives. Take this opportunity to resolve concerns the employee may have.

_____If it is determined that additional training is needed to improve the employee's skills, take the steps needed for the employee to receive the additional training.

_____If the employee has a rebuttal to the evaluation, incorporate his or her comments into the final evaluation. If not, attach the rebuttal to the final evaluation in the official personnel file.



Prepare for your first evaluation conference by reviewing these questions. You will want to ask these questions and record your answers if the employee raises areas of concern.

1. In which areas does the employee need improvement?

2. How can the employee improve in these areas?

3. By what specific date should the employee demonstrate that he/she has improved in these areas? The length of time should be proportional to the complexity of the area needing improvement.

4. What additional training is available?


After the first evaluation has been completed, if the employee disagrees with any aspect of it, he/she has the right to request that a written rebuttal be attached to the official copy of the review.



If you frequently review and act upon the information provided in this guide, you will greatly increase your chances of having a permanent employee who is an asset to your department.

However, if the employee fails to measure up to required performance standards and did not satisfactorily learn the job, you may initiate a rejection during probation:

  1. Prepare a recommendation for rejection based on the employee's failure to demonstrate the skills and abilities outlined in the job posting, position description, and/or by referencing the performance evaluation(s) which documents the failure to perform the required job functions.
  2. Submit the recommendation with the performance evaluation(s), if available, via the Dean/Director to Human Resources for processing.

Once an employee has been rejected, he/she may return to a previous classification or skill level if he/she has already passed probation in another classification or skill level [Contract 9.20]. This is known as exercising “retreat rights” to the prior classification. If the employee is a new SFSU employee and has not previously passed probation in another classification or skill level, he/she will be separated from SFSU employment.

An employee employed more than six [6] months may utilize the complaint procedure beginning at Level III [Contract 8.10] to appeal the decision to reject during probation if any of the following are alleged:

  • performance evaluation procedures required by the contract were not followed,
  • discrimination is the cause for rejection,
  • or the decision to reject was arbitrary and capricious [Contract 9.35].

If the complaint is not resolved at Level III, the complaint shall be moved to Level IV for review at the Chancellor's Office [Contract 9.35]. If the complaint is not resolved at the Chancellor's Office, it may be filed to expedited binding mediation within ten [10] working days after the Level IV response [Contract 9.35].



The name of the employee is: _________________

The date of hire is: _________________

The classification is: _________________

The bargaining unit is: __ Unit 2, Health Care Professional, __ Unit 5, Grounds and Custodial, __ Unit 7, Administrative Support, ___ Unit 9, Technical Professional

The probationary period ends: _____________

The third month evaluation is due: _____________

The sixth month evaluation is due: _____________

The eleventh month evaluation is due: _____________

The supervisor/evaluator is: ________________

Remember to:

Check the position description on a regular basis.

Provide training opportunities.

Check often with the employee on how he or she is doing.



For additional information or clarification contact:

Labor Relations & Employee Development