Acing The Probation Period
Getting the job is just the beginning. As a fresh graduate hire, you’re normally not expected to know all the ins and outs of the job immediately. In most companies, new employees are often required to go through a probation period – usually lasting three months or so – to get them used to their jobs, their day to day work and their roles in the organisation, as well as to their new company culture.
What is probation?
The probation is a settling-in period where new recruits are given time to gain a reasonable amount of understanding of their job. During this time, the employer will be evaluating the employee’s performance constantly to determine whether he or she is performing well enough to be confirmed as a permanent employee.
Probationary periods will differ from sector to sector, from organisation to organisation and from position to position. The most common timeframe is three months, at the end of which one of three things may happen:
the employer may confirm the permanent employment of the probationee
an additional probationary period may be imposed
either party may terminate the relationship.
Depending on the company’s procedures, employees who perform outstandingly well during probation may even stand a good chance of promotion or salary increase upon confirmation!
How to pass probation
You should aim to showcase not just your technical skills, but also your ability to function and thrive within the organisation as a whole, while demonstrating your potential to grow into your job.
Display a friendly, approachable and willing attitude towards your work. You are expected to show that you are able to work well with your peers and superiors. This includes taking part in CSR activities on weekends, and participation in office activities, whether going out for lunch with your team members or participating in office initiatives. Being able to integrate well into an organisation is one of the most valuable personality traits an employer will look out for.
As a fresh employee, the ability to accept constructive criticism is a valuable indicator as to your attitude. Don’t take criticism personally. Getting and giving feedback will comprise a major part of your probation period, and you should see it as an opportunity to improve your performance.
Watch how the company functions. Learn the organisational structure of the company, as this information will help you communicate more effectively with the different divisions and personnel. Learning the chain of command will increase the effectiveness as well as the accountability of your performance.
You should make an effort to absorb and adapt to the company culture and company procedures. Do they prefer emails or face-to-face meetings? Are they open to constructive criticism? Do supervisors micro-manage or grant some autonomy to their juniors? Are they relaxed about time management or do they operate a strict clock-in-clock-out system?
Know your job
It goes without saying that you should learn the ropes of the job in as great depth as possible. It’s very important to receive the exact scope of your job in writing from your supervisor or manager. A complete job description will inform you as to what is expected of you, and thus you will have a target to work towards. It will also help you to keep track of your progress.
If your company does not have regular performance reviews, request an informal performance review every fortnight or every four weeks, at least for the first two months of your probation period. This will allow you to identify and rectify any actual or potential mistakes you may be making.
It is also important to remember that during the probation period, a new employee may be fired immediately if his or her work is found to be not up to snuff by the employer. Therefore, it is extremely important to keep track of your own performance and make sure you are meeting the goals that are set for you during your probation.
Learn by asking questions
Ask your seniors or peers questions if you feel uncertain about anything (although do be aware of how much of their time you’re taking up). Don’t be afraid to make notes as this will save you from asking the same questions later. Ask your senior for a checklist of important procedures, deadlines, KPIs and targets.
Do keep a journal of the things you’ve done and learnt. Always be aware that in the near future, you will need to work independently and without supervision. Most importantly, if you make a mistake during your probation, you should take note of where you went wrong so that you do not repeat the same mistake in the future.
If you’re lucky enough to be with a company that has a structured probation period or induction scheme, make full use of that structure to get yourself started off right. If you are assigned a supervisor or manager, make sure to get into his or her good books immediately and START LEARNING.
Observe, ask questions and always bear in mind your goal: to be confirmed as a permanent employee.