Probationary period. When you start a new job, you want to breathe out after the stresses of interviews and expectations of results, but there is another stage of suspension ahead – a trial period. Even very experienced professionals who are confident in their competence have doubts that everything is going well. It is difficult to fully open up quickly when you are just adapting to new conditions and people.
There are companies that take the onboarding process very seriously and in detail – this is how they call the reception and adaptation of a new employee in the team. A newcomer is assigned a mentor who helps to get on top of things, build a well-thought-out program of gradual immersion in internal processes, work tasks and meeting colleagues (so that a person is not “torn apart” by the amount of new information), they regularly hold special meetings with the manager and HR specialist. to track how the new employee feels in the team, what problems are there, what help is needed.
Let’s not be cunning: there are not many such companies yet. More often the principle “thrown into the water – swim” works, or it happens that the onboarding system seems to exist formally, but in fact there is no time to adhere to it, the “mentor” is not up to the newcomer, accumulated during the time the place was vacant, work tasks are put on a new one a colleague at once a mountain, without any sentimentality, also has to meet people on the run. In such a situation, even a brilliant professional runs the risk of failing to cope – if only because no one set clear tasks and there was no time to really figure out “how everything works here.”
How to understand in time that your probationary period is not going well? It’s bad when it becomes an unpleasant surprise after two or three months. But if you are mentally ready for such a turn, there is an opportunity to meet him fully armed (already in the process of looking for another job) or not at all to wait for the employer’s decision and leave on your own initiative.
Three stories about failed probation
Story 1: about the pace of work
Lyudmila joined the company as an accountant after 6 years of parental leave. During this time, the company in which she worked was closed, and, deciding to go to work, Lyudmila found a new place. Much there turned out to be unusual – a very active business atmosphere reigned in the department, no conversations at tea, no jokes or distractions. I had to master a lot of new things – not only the latest version of the accounting program (Lyudmila promised at the interview that she would quickly figure it out) but also a completely unfamiliar system of electronic approvals and document management. After a couple of weeks of work, Lyudmila was summoned by the head. He noted her diligence but advised her to try even harder. It turned out to be very slow. The manager said she has two weeks to pick up the pace.
Story 2: about work style
For Oleg, a financier from the banking sector, working in a team of a promising startup was a real challenge. He is used to structured processes, timelines and meetings, which are followed by minutes. And a relaxed atmosphere reigned in the new place: tasks could be corrected on the fly, new ones appeared suddenly – it seemed that they had just discussed the task on their fingers, and now it has already been entered into a special web service. The weekly meetings were not like meetings, besides, everyone turned to each other on you, regardless of status and age. Oleg was jarred from this. And here they were too simple about the risks – it resented it.
He is used to the fact that issues need to be resolved strictly in stages, if something is not clear – escalate to the head, and to the fact that the territory of finance must be fiercely defended from other departments. More and more often Oleg heard from his colleagues: “Relax, you’re not in the bank”, “Take the coordination easier – it is important for us to quickly start the process, we will deal with the rest later,” and so on.
A couple of times, Oleg was torn away from serious work tasks by the HR manager, inviting him to meetings, at which she told him about the rules of interaction and an open culture. It was annoying.
It turned out to be very difficult for Oleg to adapt to such a format of work. After a month and a half, the manager said that he advised Oleg to return to looking for work, since, unfortunately, he does not fit into the corporate culture and his authoritarian approach delays and complicates the key processes of the company.
Story 3: about work attitudes
Ksenia got a job as a customer support operator and very quickly joined the team. Before that, she had already worked with a similar product, so she easily completed the training, and looked diagonally through the product guidebook. She thought that she could easily figure things out on the go, but in the first week of work she received low ratings from several clients for service, since she could not clearly answer the questions. “Let me send you everything by e-mail,” – earlier this phrase always helped her out in difficult cases, but here the clients turned out to be more exacting, and the rules were stricter.
The head of the department warned Ksenia and gave a knowledge test. She unexpectedly showed low results. The weekend was approaching. The boss warned that there would be a retest on Monday and advised that two days be devoted to thorough preparation. Ksenia honestly opened the guidebook on the subway on the way home from work, but, in fact, this weekend she had many active plans with her friends – not to cancel them for the sake of cramming boring terms. In addition, she was sure that they would not part with her so easily, because everyone remembers that she was the most promising at the introductory training. And the boss is a good person, he will give another chance.
As a result, the test was failed, and they parted with Ksenia without any regrets.
What is better to do in advance
The three stories described above have something in common – a mismatch in expectations from the company and the employee.
And here are the recommendations we received from Ekaterina Bykova , HR-business partner of Rubezh Group:
“In my experience, executives and HR managers make decisions about a newcomer’s probationary period according to three main criteria,” says Ekaterina. – Firstly, it is, of course, the results of work, and secondly, compliance with corporate competencies and values. Thirdly, the availability of all the necessary knowledge or a fairly quick development of those that are lacking. For example, if in the first months you have to study the product and this process ends with a test or certification. “
According to Ekaterina, as a rule, the results of the work have the greatest weight in decision making. Therefore, it is worth asking the direct supervisor questions in the first days of work:
- What results do you expect from me in three months?
- What was the reason why your employees were not on probation?
Better yet, at the interview stage, ask the HR manager:
- Are there corporate competencies and how do you get to know them?
- What do you need to be successful in the company? Ask for specific examples.
- What kind of people does not take root in the company? Why were people fired on probation?
How to know if everything is in order
What are the signs that you can understand that you are seriously at risk of not passing the probationary period? There are three main ones:
- You understand that you are not coping with the set goals and objectives. And it does not become easier and clearer for you with each new week.
- You see a mismatch between your values and the company’s culture. For example, you value freedom very much, and the employer rigidly fixes the time of arrival or departure, up to a minute. Or you are for open communication, and the company encourages formalism and written communication.
- You understand that you do not have the necessary amount of knowledge to perform your permanent functions. For example, you exaggerated your level of English, but it turned out that you have to regularly communicate with foreign partners. Or it turned out that the work involves serious reporting analytics in Excel, and you are poorly guided in it, and you don’t want to devote evenings and weekends to immersion in the nuances of the program.
What can you do to make sure that you are on probation, or, conversely, that it’s time to worry? If you find yourself in a company in which newcomers do not seem to be coddled, and you were not given clear goals and criteria for working for a trial period, then you need to take control of the situation into your own hands.
- In the early days of work, ask your manager to outline a clear range of tasks for you and agree on priorities. It’s good if you have an adaptation plan and a list of goals that have been discussed with you. If there are no fixed goals, feel free to initiate a meeting and offer to set them. You can even offer your own version of assessing the effectiveness.
- Get to know colleagues, be the initiator of communication, but without intrusiveness. Many companies have a practice of team feedback when a newcomer is evaluated by all colleagues, not just the leader. Not to mention, warm relationships with new colleagues can provide additional insight into the company’s atmosphere and culture, or tips on how to communicate effectively with leaders.
- Study the product, regulations, instructions – everything that matters for your functionality – on your own, do not wait for reminders, you are not at school. Tests, attestations and knowledge testing are not needed by the HR department, but by you in your daily work and interaction with clients. The ability to independently find the information you need is one of the most important in the 21st century.
- A little trick without cheating: when you get comfortable and at least a little delve into the tasks, make yourself a list of quick wins. These are those tasks and projects that are expected to have quick results and in which you will be able to show yourself in the best light in the brightest way, so that colleagues will understand: you are a real find. Give these tasks a little more effort than others.
- Offer help. Colleagues, newbies and boss. The best way to join a team is to work together on a task.
- Your first month of work has passed, and neither your boss nor HR manager has given you any feedback? Ask for it yourself. And in expanded form, in order to have time to make adjustments. If they don’t tell you anything, it doesn’t mean that everything is fine. An inexperienced leader may be silent for the time being, and then overwhelm with the phrase: “Unfortunately, you did not do it.”
- Share your intermediate results with your manager. Also – without waiting for it to be asked. At a minimum, write written reports, take the floor at meetups and meetings, and, if possible, show the results of your work in a presentation format.
- Try not to take on additional big goals and challenges outside of work during this period, it’s not easy for you. For example, taking part in a triathlon, starting to learn Chinese or starting a driving course is best postponed for a few months when you adapt to work. New colleagues, new information systems and a new corporate culture – you need to make the completely unfamiliar habitual. This is already stressful, and additional activities reduce focus and the amount of strength. Leave what gives you energy and positive emotions.
- Ask yourself the question, “Do I like working for this company?” If there is a gap between expectations and reality – and every day it gets deeper, and there is less and less motivation to go to the office every morning, remember that this is a trial period not only for you but also for the employer. If you feel like you’re out of the way, don’t be afraid to leave probation.
- Even if you’re okay with everything, periodically check out new jobs in the background. This is normal: if the employer seriously does not like something, it means that they are already looking for a replacement for you, or they will count on someone who, according to the results of the selection, remained candidate No. 2. In a word, keep your finger on the pulse. If you do not want to be aware at work that you are still in search, you can set up limited visibility of your resume on hh.ru. Even if you have the “Not visible to anyone” mode, it will not prevent you from responding to specific vacancies that interest you (in this case, the resume will automatically become visible to the company to which you send a response).