January 13

The Probationary Period: How to set everyone up for success


Ironically, I have noticed a flaw in many marketing agencies hiring processes. They focus highly on finding the ‘perfect’ person, the next ‘ninja.’ As the person is on-boarded, the employer assumes they have found that perfect person, and they can jump right into things and know automatically how the agency is run (because they’re a Ninja remember) and life is tickety-boo.

But it doesn’t work like that.

Back in my days of working in the lab at an acute care hospital, the lab technologists went to post-secondary education for 2.5 years. Then they received a national certification before becoming employable at a lab. If you got hired, you then had three months of on the job training, but really it took six months before that tech was competent to work the off shifts and take on greater responsibility.  

So if someone who has received specific training in hematology still has to do a 90-day probationary period before working the bench on their own, why do marketing agencies even start to entertain the idea that their new ‘ninja’ will be able to jump right in and run???

The truth is no one can jump right in and run in any new position. They just can’t. And here’s why:

  • Every agency has a different tech stack that must be learned. Think about the various CRM tools out there, the different time tracking, different communication tools, etc.
  • Every agency has a different approach to marketing. How do I know? I’ve taken over many new advertising accounts from other agencies and seen all sorts of variations to strategy and setup. It’s not wrong, just different. And a new contractor has to learn these traits.
  • Every client is new and unique in their offerings. Assuming if I have 2 MedSpa clients, their offerings will be different. Since it’s not one-size-fits-all, the new contractor has to learn these variations and nuances.

So as the agency owner, what are you going to do to prepare your new contractor for success?

Here are a few things we recommend.

Onboarding Checklist

Having an onboarding process is essential, and it has benefits two-fold. First, it affects your new hires on an individual level. Second, it showcases you and your agency as organized. Have an onboarding checklist/template in your CRM ready to go, so nothing gets missed or forgotten.

Here are some ways on how an onboarding checklist can help.

1) It can improve the performance of the new hires.

2) It helps increase retention.

3) Boosts employee engagement.

Standard Operating Procedures

SOP’s are a must-have if you want to grow. Not only will the SOP help the new hire immensely, but you won’t have to keep answering questions that are repetitive. 

Pair Your New Hire With Another Team Member

Pair the new person with an experienced team member, who meets with them daily for the first week, bi-daily the second week, and weekly for the next two weeks. This will make sure all questions are getting answered, the contractor feels welcomed, and nothing is falling through the cracks.

Weekly One-On-One 

You personally meet with the new contractor every week for the first four weeks to work out the kinks and make sure they have no challenges.

Time Taken For Task

Know that your contractor will take twice as long to do their work in the beginning than after they have been working for 90 days. Give them half to a third of the normal workload so they don’t feel stressed out to get tasks done and can properly learn your systems and processes.

Weekly Company Meetings

Implement weekly company-wide meetings, so your new contractor feels part of the team. Also, implement 1:1’s between the contractor and their direct report, that being you if you’re the report! (yes, you must implement 1:1’s in your agency if you have contractors. Things will fall apart over time if you don’t). To learn more about 1:1’s and the EOS system, visit: https://www.eosworldwide.com/

Now I’ll be honest about the next part: I don’t pay a full wage during probation. I offer 70-80% less for the first 90 days to take into account the lower productivity. Then after 90 days, they get their full salary plus any benefits I may offer (vacation time, etc.).  

There’s a lot to learn from corporate/public organizations like healthcare when operating your own business. Don’t try to reinvent the wheel. Just look outside the box.  


the probationary period

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