Saturday, 22 April 2017

How To Get Through Your Probationary Period

When you first start your new job you are often working in a probation period, this allows an employer to see if you are suitable for the position but also provides an opportunity for you to see if the job is as you expected. I am successfully out of my probation period and thought I would share some tricks of the trade to ensure you pass with flying colours.

Let's start with the most important thing shall we? Attitude! When I look back to when I started the job in December it feels like a lifetime ago in terms of how much I have grown. I think you should set the tone for how you hope to continue. Proactive, keen to learn and a drive to progress is something I strive for. Although the job at hand is to benefit the business you are working for, you also need to reach your own personal goals and keep those in mind daily in order to get the most out of the role. 

One way to make yourself feel more comfortable is to engage in office activities. We regularly have kitchen afternoon tea parties for birthdays and other forms of celebrations, you just need to get stuck in. Have the confidence to talk to people outside of your team too. Making an impression outside of your team is just as vital if you want to fully settle in. Within my first few weeks I was lucky enough to join in the Christmas party which was a great way to bond outside of the office. Alongside that we had a company away day and I was able to reach out and learn more about other departments and the future plans for the business. One thing I would say is if you get offered an opportunity, take it. I was asked if I would like to be interview for the website for a 'get to know the team' types series and although I was slightly nervous about the whole situation it ended up being one of the best decisions I made. You can read my article here and learn more about what I do and how I got my role if you wish. Anyway, back on to my point this article got me recognised by the company's Managing Director who had a quick browse through my blog and was interested in what he saw. Before I knew it he was giving me a shout out in the trade meetings and in talks with my managers about getting me to write more than product descriptions. One step in the right direction can lead to big things, take the risk.

Within your team it will help to create partnerships. You are all working towards the same goal and are there to help each other out. Working together on projects can be a great way to get your creativity flowing, as you bounce of one another. Don't be shy to put your thoughts forward, you have a voice don't be afraid to use it. 

Go the extra mile, often when you first start the job there is a lot of training, learning new systems and introductions involved. They try to ease you in but I think asking for an extra task here and there or staying late to finish a task can be the perfect example to show commitment to the role from the beginning. Plus if you see your team staying behind late, offer to help and when you are in a similar situation they may offer to do the same back! There is no I in team, you might even learn an extra thing or two and make someone else extremely happy for the help.
You want to avoid personality clashes like the plague, once you are painted in a bad light before they truly get to know you it maybe something that sways there decision when choosing wether to make you permanent. The your behaviour from the moment you walk in to the moment you leave is being evaluated in the sense of will you fit in to the existing staff within the company. The common saying "Don't bring it to the office" is very relevant. You want to stay relatively positive to let them know you are enjoying the role and are happy to be there. Another point close to this is bitching. I'm not really one for going out of my way to talk badly about others but just stay clear of office drama. Don't make judgements on people based on others opinions, make that decision for yourself otherwise you are limiting your own experience within the company. There is a fine line between sharing your knowledge and acting like a know it all. Make time to listen and gauge the environment before you speak.

I know this point kind of speaks for itself but absence is a key element to passing your work probation. Being punctual or even slightly early is always the preference. I often come in around 15 minutes early so I can make a morning snack or beverage before settling in and logging on, as well as fitting in enough time for my morning round of hello's. Obviously you can't help it if you are sick but if you have a common cold with a side of dramatic drama queen who can't make it in to work they won't be impressed. Just do your best, that's all they can ask. If you are late just make up your time at the end of the day to ensure you cover your own back.

Believe it or not the way you present yourself also plays a big part. Personal hygiene and dressing according to the office code is a must. Even though my work is far more casual, I always try and opt for something slightly on the smarter side just to be safe. They say to always dress for the role you want to be or at least the one above your own. It shows a level of professionalism that will not go unrecognised. Can you believe all of that comes under just attitude?

One thing I started doing shortly after starting was making notes of what I was doing everyday. As you come up to your review you need to be able to recall situations that you have dealt with that'll help to build your case of why you should remain within the company. Often when you are put on the spot it can be difficult to remember what you did and when you did it, your future self will be thankful to have them to refer back to. Linking in to this you need to know your job role. This will help you to highlight what you have learnt and what you are yet to learn. If you are doing things out of your role you can question this when it comes to your review. Knowing the outline of your role helps you to understand and manage the learning expectations other have for you. With this you can take time to prioritise and organise your work getting in to a more comfortable daily/weekly routine.
A small thing that can make a huge difference to your efficiency is the design of your working space. Most of the time you are given a blank desk with a PC provided. Creating a personal space for you to work in is important to ensure you can be productive. Less is more in this scenario you don't want to bring unnecessary clutter but adding a few touches can really boost your learning potential and change the way you feel. The aim is to keep it functional but inspiring and of course tidy!

My final point is to assess. Evaluating your own work will help you to push yourself. You need to be able to self critique in order to move forward. Don't just stop there, look around you. See how you fit in to the team and how the systems work, you could come up with a better solution for everybody. When you get the chance to have your say, put forward things you would still like to learn. If you don't ask you don't get, the people around you have bundles of knowledge and have the ability to expose you to new things. This is also the chance to make clear your career path intentions. For example I am currently in split role but my passion sits within the e-commerce side and this is where I wish to explore more in-depth as I move up the ladder. If they know where you want to go it enables them to guide you in the right direction and if the opportunity arises in that particular area (and they think you deserve it) they are likely to offer it to you before putting it out on the market.

Overall those are the things I have learnt from my probation period. I feel I have come out the other side feeling very confident about my career path. When the only comment to consider was to be more confident in my decision making, I don't think I've done too bad at all. Would love to know your tips or advice in the comments!

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