Making great impressions | Main Region | UB

Making great impressions

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Starting a new job can be just as exciting as it can be daunting. Learning the ropes, the key stakeholders, the expectations – all within the probation period, a time when both sides are sizing up whether they’ve made the right decision or not. So, if you’re about to embark on a new role, or working through your probation right now, find out what’s typically expected of new hires, and any red flags you should be looking out for as well.

So what is the probation period?

The probation period is essentially a trial period for both new employees and employers to assess if the decision to work together was the right one. For the employer, they will consider if their new hire’s skills, capabilities and personality is the right fit for the organisation and its culture. And for the employee it’s a time to understand if their talents, purpose and values align to the organisation they’ve joined. Both sides will also be looking at well they can adapt to a new industry or role, and new expectations and cultures.
A probation period can last anywhere between three and six months, and an employer can decide to extend that time is they feel they need more time to judge suitability. Generally, there will be formal points of consultation where employers can share any feedback on where performance might be in need of improvement. At the end of the probation, a meeting will be scheduled where each party can agree to move forward or not.

Understand your Objectives

First and foremost, make sure you understand what is expected of you during the probation period. Your onboarding manager should make these clear, but if not, don’t be afraid to ask for them – even better, ask for SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound) goals as these offer a very clear direction and makes it easier to track your progress against them.

Embrace the Learning Curve

When starting a new job, whether it’s in a role/industry your familiar with, or something new, there is going to be a lot to learn. Most organisations have their own unique processes, operating rhythms and even language which means you need to embrace the learning curve. Be proactive in seeking the knowledge and skills that are needed for your new role – this might involve formal training, shadowing colleagues or self-study. Research in adult learning theory suggests that professionals benefit from experiential ¬or learning by doing, as they can relate new knowledge to their previous experiences so consider asking for a project to work on early on as it’s often only in the doing that you uncover the nuances and learn how the team operates.

Build Relationships

Networking within your new organisation is key. Building relationships with your colleagues can provide support, enhance your understanding of the company culture, and even offer insights into how to succeed in your new role. Your onboarding program might already include a swathe of meetings to attend but take time to understand who else in the organisation might be worth spending some time with, especially those outside of your core business unit.

Seek Feedback Regularly

You don’t have to wait for formally scheduled check ins to find out how you’re doing. Regular feedback can guide your development and integration into the new team. Ask for feedback at the conclusion of any task and seek inputs from other team members as well. Constructive feedback is important for learning and development so don’t be afraid to ask for it, and don’t be afraid of what you might get back – the probation period is a time when it’s expected that mistakes will be made so is a safe time to learn from the feedback you might be offered.

Demonstrate Flexibility and Adaptability

During your probation period there are likely going to be plenty of new situations and challenges, so be prepared to adapt and flex. While things may have been done very differently at your last place of work, don’t try to force a new team to work in a way that you’re used to – try adapt your working methods to meet the new team’s needs and processes.

Document Your Achievements

Keep track of your contributions and achievements during the probation period. This can be helpful for review meetings with your manager and can also boost your confidence when you review what you’ve achieved. Documenting your progress and the impact of your work is delivering can make it easier to discuss your performance objectively.

Be Proactive About Solving Problems

When you encounter challenges or problems, take the initiative to propose solutions. This demonstrates your problem-solving skills and your commitment to the success of your team and the organization. Problem-solving is often highlighted as a critical skill across various job sectors and roles.

Align with Company Culture

Understanding and aligning with the company culture is essential for long-term success. Observe the norms, values and behaviours that are celebrated and rewarded within the organisation. Adapt your working style to fit this culture where appropriate, while still maintaining your unique authenticity.

Stay Positive and Resilient

Career transitions can be stressful, and it's normal to face moments of doubt or frustration. Maintaining a positive attitude and resilience during these times can help you overcome obstacles and make a positive impression on your new colleagues and managers.

Workplace red flags

As mentioned, this is a time for both sides to evaluate the decision to start a new role, and as an employee, there are a few telling signs of a less than optimal workplace to watch out for. Is there a lack of clear communication, are your expectations of the role mismatched with what it actually is, are there any signs of unethical behaviour or is there high turnover rates of staff leaving – these, plus other signs could indicate that this new job is not the right one for you. Rather than slogging it out to end up in a role or an organisation that isn’t the right fit for you, you should follow standard resignation procedures but typically your notice period is shorter, generally two weeks, as compared to full time staff.
The probation period is an important time for you to establish yourself in a new role and industry. By setting clear objectives, embracing learning, building relationships, seeking feedback, demonstrating adaptability, documenting achievements, solving problems proactively, aligning with company culture and staying positive you can successfully navigate this transition period.

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