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How to get through your probation period with flying colours

By Emilly Parris | 20 March 2019

Landing a new job can be exciting, yet nerve-wracking at the same time—especially if you’re concerned about passing your probation. In this article, we’ll explore a few strategies and tips you can implement that can help you get through your probation period with flying colours.

What is a probation period?

Most companies require their employees to go through a probation—or trial—period. Typically, you will be on trial between 1-6 months before a decision is made about permanent employment. During this time, both you and your employer will need to work out whether the role is right for you.

According to a recent study, the most common reasons new hires could not pass their probation include inability to accept feedback, poor interpersonal skills, inability to manage emotions, lack of motivation or the wrong temperament for the job. Fortunately, coachability, improved emotional intelligence and temperament can all be improved upon with the right attitude. Here are six strategies that can help you overcome these challenges:

How to pass your probationary period

  1. Be open to new experiences.
  2. Be friendly and confident.
  3. Observe the company culture.
  4. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.
  5. Get out of your comfort zone.
  6. Be humble.

1. Be open to new experiences.

young woman looking out at ocean

Openness can be a huge advantage when it comes to meeting new people and starting a new job, because it challenges the idea of “fearing the unknown”. According to Psychologist World “a person with a high level of openness will often enjoy venturing beyond his or her comfort zone. They seek out new, unconventional and unfamiliar experiences, travelling to new destinations, embracing different cultures and practices.”

Even if you are naturally more reserved or conservative in your approach to new experiences, cultivating a sense of openness in your first few weeks will make the adjustment process much easier.

For example, rather than worrying about how hard it will be to meet new people or learn how everything works in your new role, reframe it by thinking of it as a chance to make friends and use your existing skills for an exciting new project. This way, you are opening yourself up to new possibilities and framing them in a positive way.

2. Be friendly and confident.

diverse colleagues smiling

Approach your colleagues with a smile, be confident and friendly and do your best to make a good first impression. If you open yourself up to your colleagues, you’re more likely to leave a positive impression. Even if your team is relatively quiet, that doesn’t mean you can’t greet them with a smile or a friendly wave in the morning. 

3. Observe the company culture.

a friendly company culture

You may have some idea of the company culture through the interview process, but your probation period gives you more time to observe your environment and learn about what to expect (and what’s expected of you). Remember, employers hire not only based on skill but culture fit too. For example, if your team regularly go out for lunch together, then it’s important for you to make an effort to go out too. 

4. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.

asking questions concept

If you don’t completely understand something, don’t be afraid to speak up. Asking questions shows that you are motivated to learn and recognise that you do not know everything yet. No employer expects you to know everything when you only just started, but they do expect you to ask questions and make an effort to learn

5. Get out of your comfort zone.

comfort zone concept

If you’re naturally a bit of a wallflower, a new job can be quite hard to navigate from a social perspective. Try your best to get out of your comfort zone, at least until people learn more about you and your personality. It’s perfectly fine to sit back and observe on the first week of starting the job, but after that it’s a good idea to start contributing in some way.

Whether you have ideas to share or strategies you think might work that are within the scope of your role, give a little more than you might feel comfortable so that your boss can see the value you bring to the team. It might seem unnatural at first, but it’s a good way to improve your confidence and get others to warm to you.

6. Be humble.

humility concept

Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.” — C.S. Lewis

Humility can go a long way when it comes to interpersonal relationships in the workplace. There’s nothing worse for a manager than having to deal with an arrogant employee who thinks too highly of themselves to do the work that’s expected of them, or who wants to implement massive changes before they’ve had a chance to learn about how the company works.

Even if you quickly realise that you know more than your team about a certain area of the business, it’s best to start gradually. Show, rather than tell and avoid stepping on people’s toes, especially during those first few crucial months.

While your probation period helps your employer determine whether to keep you on, it is also your time to figure out whether the role is right for you. By being open, learning about the company and your role in it you not only put your best foot forward in your employer’s eyes, but you put yourself in the best position to make the right decision for your career.

Need more tools to help you with your job search?

The Upskilled Talent Community is perfect for those currently seeking a new job, or undergoing a career transition. Current and past Upskilled students have access to the Upskilled Talent Community, allowing them to build their digital CV and online profile. From there, this will allow them to communicate with potential employers about upcoming job opportunities, helping streamline the process of recruitment.

Learn more on how Upskilled can help you prepare for future job roles and start your course search to help you stand out from other job candidates by taking the opportunity to upskill for your dream career. 
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