Get through your probationary period successfully: how to make a good start in your new job
Whether you are at the start of your career or have years of experience – colleagues, company structures and work processes are always new in the first few days in your new job. Here’s how to manage your probationary period and find your feet in your new workplace.
The first day at work: finding your feet
A new team, new contacts, new tasks. Where is the printer and who can help me with the telephone system? The first day at work can be pretty nerve-wracking. It’s possible that all your new colleagues are busy with current projects, so no one has time to help you settle in. In that case, it’s your responsibility to orientate yourself and keep your nerves in check.
Use any opportunity to talk to colleagues. But don’t be too pushy, especially if all other the other members of the team seem very concentrated at the time. The coffee machine and the canteen are good places to get to know your colleagues. You might find someone who can help you with your questions in this way. Use your first day at work to find out what your colleagues' habits are regarding lunch breaks and when they end their day. If you have suggestions for improvements or are used to other work processes, keep them to yourself. Only when you have gotten to know your new environment a little better should you contribute your own ideas, and there’s nothing stopping you from doing so during the probationary.
Not what you expected: disillusionment during your probationary period
Especially for career starters, their expectations of the job are often not in line with the reality. The same old work processes are restrictive, your own suggestions are not accepted, there is a lack of clear work instructions and attention. This means that your first day or even the first few weeks and months can sometimes lead to disappointment and frustration. Remember: for now you’re a beginner again, who has to learn a few things from scratch. Approach colleagues in a friendly way and ask them if someone can explain your tasks to you in more detail or where you can help out. The first period of time in a new job is a phase or reorientation.
Dealing with tensions in your new job
You’ve beaten your competitors in the interview*. But this doesn’t mean that your competitors have disappeared now. Some colleagues may also look at you quite critically, because they chose a different candidate. Others may have wanted your position themselves. If conflicts arise, stay calm, think about the causes and try – if it seems sensible – to have a diplomatic talk with the person in question. Don’t lose control, if it is hard – remember: you want to really shine by making a positive impression during the probationary period and not get noticed because of interpersonal ‘problems’.
Step by step: belong a little more each day
After you have orientated yourself, you need to grow into a fully fledged member of staff. The faster you adapt to the company’s culture and values, the easier it will be to get on board. How long you still feel like a stranger and are perceived as the ‘new’ guy or girl depends on your colleagues, but also on you. It can take anything from a few weeks to several months. If you are open and engage proactively in your new job, you will soon know what your tasks are, where the coffee machine is and which colleagues you prefer to have a chat about the weekend there with. Because from that point on, you’re part of the team.