Navigating the Probation Phase – A Guide to successfully manage the Onboarding Term
Author: André L. Belleville
The first few months in a new job can be both exciting and nerve-wracking, especially during the probation phase where the employee's performance is closely monitored. While some companies set Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) right from the start, others may have a more relaxed approach during this period. Regardless, it's essential for new employees to proactively manage their probation phase to ensure a smooth transition and showcase their potential. In this article, we will explore what new employees can do during the probation phase and how employers can assist them in their journey.
Tips I give my candidates as new employees:
- Clarify Expectations: Even without formal KPIs, seek clarity on your role and responsibilities. Engage with your supervisor or manager to understand what is expected of you during the probation period. Outline the goals you hope to achieve, discuss milestones, and create a mutual understanding of what success looks like.
- Set Personal Goals: In the absence of specific KPIs, establish your own measurable objectives aligned with the company's overall vision. These can be skill development, completing training programs, or contributing to team projects. By doing so, you demonstrate initiative and a commitment to personal growth.
- Create Content: Harness your exceptional perspective and embrace the advantage of fresh insights. As a new addition to the company, you possess a valuable advantage - an unbiased and fresh perspective. Your ability to avoid "business blindness" allows you to assess and benchmark the organization with an exclusive perspective, fostering innovative and out-of-the-box thinking. Rather than adopting an "I know it better" attitude, the key lies in collaborative efforts with your team and supervisor, leveraging your external expertise to contribute to the success of both the team and the customers i.e., by creating content. This content could lead to a new Service/Product/Offering which can set your company ahead of the competition.
- Seek Feedback: Actively request feedback from your peers and supervisors on your performance. Regularly check-in to assess your progress and ask for areas of improvement. Be open to constructive criticism and use it as a tool for self-improvement.
- Initiate Performance Conversations: If KPIs have not been assigned, take the initiative to discuss your performance with your supervisor. Seek their insights on your progress and inquire if there are any specific expectations, they have for you during the probation period.
When assisting my clients on how employers can support new employees, I advise these steps:
- Open Communication: Employers should establish open communication channels during the probation phase. Regularly check in with new employees to understand their challenges, answer questions, and provide any necessary support.
- Feedback Mechanisms: Implement feedback mechanisms where supervisors can share their observations and insights on the new employee's performance. Timely feedback allows employees to adjust and align their efforts with the company's expectations.
- Mentorship or Buddy System: Consider assigning a mentor or a buddy to new employees. This support system can provide guidance, answer questions, and help them navigate the company culture more effectively.
- Performance Discussions: Initiate periodic performance discussions with new team members to provide a comprehensive overview of their progress. These discussions can help set objectives and expectations for the next stages of their employment.
- Training and Development: Offer relevant training and development opportunities to new employees during the probation phase. This investment demonstrates the company's commitment to employee growth and development.
Successfully managing the probation phase as a new employee, even without specific KPIs, requires proactive efforts. Clarify expectations, set personal goals, seek feedback, and initiate performance discussions to showcase your dedication and potential. At the same time, employers should support new employees through open communication, feedback mechanisms, mentorship, and training opportunities. By working together, both parties can ensure a fruitful probation phase that leads to long-term success and a harmonious working relationship.