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Surviving Your Probation Period

By Kinexus on 16 August 2016

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I’ve noticed a trend of late that companies seem to be moving towards a six month probation period rather than the traditional three.

What does that tell us? Clearly, despite a thorough interview process, you (as a new employee) are still on trial… that’s right, your dream job could still be one conversation away from dissolving into thin air.

So here are my top 8 tips on how to make sure you survive your probation period.

  1. All Eyes Are on You

Don’t think just because you seem to get on well with your manager that you are home and dry.  You are the newbie and everyone will be watching you; your colleagues, your peers, senior management, even perhaps the CEO. There will be some key people who were not part of your recruitment that you will still need to impress, so figure out who these people are fast.

  1. First Impressions Count

It’s cliché but true. Be friendly yet professional. Do your best to remember everyone’s name; this makes a great first impression and will ensure people remember you too. If you work with a social team, it’s important to join in. However, if you are invited to the pub on a Thursday evening, go along for a couple of drinks and then make your way home. Don’t be the last one standing or the one calling in sick the next day with a hangover.

  1. Make Friends

You don’t have to be everyone’s new best friend but it’s always a good idea to befriend a couple of people who can give you advice and help along the way. Inductions and the first couple of weeks will be delivered in a corporate way. Friends will give you a little more everyday advice where required and will also be around to help if your manager is not available.

  1. Rest

A new job with new challenges can be surprisingly draining both work wise and emotionally. Give yourself time to relax and recuperate in the evenings so you are feeling fresh and performing at your best every day.

  1. Interview Feedback

The interviews are finished right, so why is this relevant now?  No-one is perfect for the job they have, the interview feedback will detail some areas that you need to work on.  Know what this is and discuss it with your manager during your first few weeks in the job.  This shows self-awareness and can help you develop a training plan to improve those specific areas

  1. Regular Feedback

Ensure you have regular contact and communication with your manager. Tell them you would like regular feedback on your performance, good or bad. Review your job description and ensure you are both aware of what is expected of you as well as any KPI’s you should be achieving during your probation period.

  1. Questions

You can never ask too many questions.  When a new person joins my team I would rather they ask lots of questions, than not ask and just assume; this often leads to something going wrong.  On the flip side, asking the same question over and over creates a bad impression. Be aware of how you retain information, it may help to write everything down so you have something to refer to.

  1. The Basics

Don’t turn up late, leave early, take a long lunch, spend hours on Facebook or make personal phone calls. Very basic advice, but you would be surprised at how often these things happen. In fact, it’s a good idea to follow these rules even after you’ve passed your probation period.

Once you have your job, you still have to demonstrate you can do what you said you could during the interview process. You are still under the spotlight. Follow the above and you should pass your probation with flying colours.

If you use that new guy or new girl spotlight in a positive way you may even make it into the “one of the best hires I’ve ever made” hall of fame.

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