At Work

How to survive work probation

Work probation. The words sound scarier than what they really are. For those finishing university or high school and are about to enter the “real working world” for the first time the words can sound almost like a threat.

Truth of the matter is that probation is something every worker must go through. It is basically a testing period to see how you fit into a particular work place. For those who had a casual job in high school and university, you may not have even been aware that you were on probation. For those who are starting full time work you definitely should be aware of it.

It can be daunting to know your on probation. So here at 1079 Life, we seek to help quell such fears with some helpful advice on how to survive your probationary period for those who, in 2022, will be entering the full time work force for the first time.

1. A lot will depend on the work place your entering

First things first. Probation is different depending on the company and industry you are joining. Some probationary periods are 3 months long, others can drag out to 18 months. For some people it will comprise of a slow gradual process of learning the ropes of the industry and business they are entering. For others it will be something akin to the Hunger Games where a large number of new recruits are selected and then culled till only the best remain. Understand what type of conditions are connected to your particular probationary period.

2. Always arrive on time and don’t leave early

The first part is pretty self explanatory. If you can’t be bothered to arrive on time consistently why should a workplace retain you.

On the second point, there may be a time when you can leave earlier than normal. Perhaps your boss or your other colleagues are. But when your on probation stay on until clock off unless excused by your supervisor or superiors. Never take the initiative when it comes to this.

3. Build rapport

Building rapport is essential for succeeding in a work place. Work will be like a second home to you. Therefore you should try to build a connection with your colleagues.

Furthermore by building a rapport you no longer become “faceless”. So if your supervisor asks if you want to come for coffee take up that opportunity. If your workplace is holding an after works function join in. Share your interests to colleagues, so long as they are not controversial, and take an interest in their interests.

Above all be friendly. Your work colleagues may not become your best friends but there is no harm in being friendly.

4. Details people

Attention to details is critical and will make your probation period smoother. So once a task is complete go through and check it over once or twice. Whether it be numbers on a spread sheet, a particular graphic style on an article or a finishing touchup on something you were constructing, look at the details and get everything as perfect as possible.

5. Take initiative, take responsibility but always keep your supervisors in the loop

If you enter the work force as an entry level graduate or apprentice you will be given someone who is tasked with watching over you. It is their task to mentor you and ultimately you are their responsibility.

One thing that supervisors and mentors love is a recruit who can take both responsibility of a task (they’re not your baby-sitter) and show initiative. Showing both will mark you down as a proactive recruit and, if you are facing a Hunger Games probation period, may mean the difference between getting that permanent position or getting the boot.

However in saying that always respect the chain of command. Nothing will strain a relationship between a supervisor and a probationary recruit than you going over their heads. Every initiative you undertake, ensure that the your supervisor knows about it. If the initiative turns into a disaster they can at least defend your actions. It’s impossible for them to do so if they have no idea of what you were doing.

But you also don’t want to go up the chain of command without your supervisor’s knowledge or say so because that can make your supervisor look bad. A good relationship with your supervisor is key to succeeding in your probation.

And if your supervisor says not to do something don’t do it. There is usually a valid reason behind the response.

6. Be social media safe

This should be a tip everyone follws. Don’t post anything that could comprise your workplace or bring it into disrepute (that includes badmouthing colleagues).

7. Listen and learn

If you have finished university and are just entering full time work for the first time congratulations. Now that is out of the way here is a reality check. You don’t know half of what you think you know and your about three quarters less intelligent than you think you are. So listen and learn. That is what probation is for. Ask questions if need be. It not only shows engagement but also that you care. Above all try and not repeat the same mistakes over and again. It is harder than it sounds, but try not to.

8. Understand that mistakes will happen

Your not perfect, your boss isn’t perfect, nobody is perfect. So accept that you will struggle, you will make mistakes and you know less than what you think. Most people are accepting of this, especially if you are entering a completely different field than what your trained or educated for. The key is to always make an effort to learn and rectify. Superiors will forgive you if you are seen to be making an effort. And above all try and not make the same mistakes over and again. This really can’t be stressed enough.

9. Work is for Work

Remember your at a workplace. So act appropriately. Remember those oh so funny jokes you cracked at university and high school that were incredibly inappropriate but damn they were funny. Yeah the workplace and probation are not the place or time to be cracking those jokes. Nor is asking too personal a question to colleagues and indulging in debates and conversations on politics, religion or personal finance.

Eventually you may be able to ask personal questions to trusted colleagues that you get to know but during probation play it safe. The last thing you want is a summons to the HR department.

10. Stay out of gossip and controversy

Nothing will sink a probationary employees chances of success like controversy. So above all stay out of it. Each workplace big or small will have its fair share of work place gossip and politics. In that way, workplaces can mimic school. But you are new, so stay out of anything that remotely smells like gossip and workplace politics.

Above all, keep yourself from becoming a topic of gossip and controversy. This to an extent is unavoidable because everyone is curious about the new person. But there is the natural gossip of being the new person and the gossip of being the new person who got drunk at the Christmas party and then vomited over the boss’s car. Avoid the latter.

11. Remember the company or workplace is almost as nervous as you are

Believe it or not, your supervisors and bosses want you to succeed. Putting aside any personal feelings they may hold, the fact that you got through the interview shows that they consider you of potential. Businesses and workplaces will only hire those who they see have potential because like a recruit taking a gamble on a particular workplace, the workplace is taking a gamble on the recruit. Hiring a new recruit, training and paying them takes time and resources. Workplaces want you to succeed because that will benefit them.

12. On the flip side, your not indispensable

Yes the workplace that has hired you see’s potential. But lets be frank, your not God’s gift to the workplace and your not indispensable. Nothing will irritate an established workplace more than a recruit who enters and thinks they are God given. Humility is important.

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