So you have signed on the dotted line, tendered your resignation, bid farewell to your soon-to-be-former-colleagues. Excitedly, you wait for your first day of your new employment.
Hold on, there is a probation period, before you become a ‘confirmed’ staff, and officially join your new family at work.
The probation period is there for a reason.
Think of it as a trial period where both the employee and employer can get to know each other better.
For some, it allows both sides to test the OB markers, and when things don’t go well, they can part ways quickly, making it less painful and awkward for everyone.
Of course, everyone would want to pass the probation period and get confirmed for their new job. There are some tips and hacks to take note of so that you can breeze through your probation period.
First Day In Probation
For many, they will always remember the first day they walk into their new office, the feeling, the excitement, the apprehension, the emotions and all.
Training might start on the first day, as part of orientation; or not.
Your HR or L&D will schedule you for one later. You might get to meet people from other departments joining you for the orientation.
Get to know them and work with them even though in some cases, you might not get to see them again.
Remember, distant, long lost cousins are still relatives of the same family tree.
You probably will need to shake a lot of hands, depending on how big your organisation is unless you are mnemonic.
It is okay if you are not able to put a face to the name. Eventually, you will, especially those you will work with.
You will have a new desk, and new PC, new stationeries, some hand-me-downs, some other-other unwanted stuff, folders and papers people discard into your drawer.
Take your time to do some housekeeping. It is important to be organised and clean for your new job and desk.
Get Noticed at Probation
This is my personal practice, and I encouraged my mentee to adopt.
Write things down in the notebook, some processes and visuals explained by the seniors has to be jotted down in your words.
In your own understanding. It becomes your own Work Bible, your kung-fu manual.
A notebook is also an excellent insurance against computer crashing.
It is well worth its weight in gold when you are pressed to obtain the information at a time critical moment.
By and large, as you get acclimatised into the new company and lose your status as the FNG (Freaking New Guy/Gal), your notebook will become less relevant as these information gets embedded into your brain.
But for the beginning, a journal serves well as information, and sometimes emotional security blanket for a newbie.
Swim With Bureaucracy
There are procedures, rules and processes to follow in every organisation.
Forms help organisation organise themselves with appropriate paper trails for accountability, approval, check and balance, as well as for audit.
It is more important for you to know these forms than for these forms to know you.
Some forms can be unnecessary, and in your honest opinion, ridiculous, outdated.
Keep your opinion to yourself, and avoid jumping into changing the system even before you get to know the system.
Things are in place to keep the corporate machinery running smoothly. It will be long before you see the whole rationale of the existence of some seemingly redundant forms.
Here is where your notebook becomes useful, jot down what forms are for what, some forms comes with codes and titles.
‘FC/LC waiver form’ is a form for waiving off ‘financial charge/ late charge’ and you need to get it into your system and reach for the right form when you need it.
Charts/matrixes And Other Visual Aids
Most organisations have some printed aid to help their staff guide themselves through the myriad of corporate department and functions.
The phone list will probably be the first go-to reference for you to find out where your buddy seats; what extension to reach the IT support guys in case you accidentally lock yourself out of the system.
When I have one, I will stick it right in front of my workstation, for quick reference.
I will also attach one of my name cards to my computer, with my company address, fax and other corporate information, right where I can see them.
Snipers stick their range card to their rifles and I think it is an excellent best practice to adopt, for our work.
User IDs and Passwords
In your social life, you have your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Flickr, Snapchat, Skype, Gmail, Hotmail account, passwords to remember.
When you join your new place, there will be a string of passwords to remember, User IDs, and other access control procedures to follow.
Here again, your notebook is gold, as it is ‘unhackable’.
It belongs to you, independent of the network; you write them down so that you can remember them, and help you navigate those portals and system you need to log into to do your job.
Observe, Observe and Observe
One thing I learned watching the Jason Bourne movie franchise, is the leading character does a lot of seeing, looking and observing.
It is more than doing as the Roman does, but our visual input helps us take the right action and ask the right question.
We can always observe certain things happening in the new office, compare and contrast with our previous experience and act in a manner that uses our experiences to make sense of what is going on.
Be open and non-judgemental about what you are looking at, and stay curious about your new environment and what you can absorb from it.
Peers and Grapevine
No man is an island, so they say, and as a newbie, you are the small tiny land, surrounded by water, underneath it is still land.
You will have new friends to make and new cliques to form. You may be an opinion leader in your old joint, but here, you will need to climb the social ladder all over again.
A newbie usually always starts from the bottom rung of a corporate pecking order, so learn to take note of who is the opinion leader and follower.
It is not about being playing politics in your new place; it is about being sensitive to the current politics already there, long before you arrive.
It usually forgives newbies since they start as neutral but that doesn’t mean you are the United Nations, as even the United Nations take sides.
You just need to be emotionally savvy and agile to make sure you do not offend people who eventually will have a say in your longevity in the company.
Be friendly, amicable, cordial and as much as possible, be nice to everyone in your new place.
Tackling Slangs, Acronyms and Industry Lingos
Each industry and organisations have their slangs and acronyms.
When I was with the banking sector, we have acronyms like, “LMCB”, “CCMS”, “FCLC”, “PCIK”, “PCIC” and other codes.
Right now with recruitment, I have to understand “FAJ”, “LOA”, “CDD”, and other acronyms.
Again here a notebook will be invaluable to help you write and internalise them.
Learn new slangs is unavoidable, and once you’ve worked long into the job, coming home telling your spouse about your job will leave them perplexed when you start to use your slangs as if you are speaking in tongues.
My rule of the thumb is to stay clear of these four no, no for a newbie. Gender, Religion, Race and Politics.
Your job there is to do your job unless your job explicitly requires you to, stay away from your bias.
Never make a disparaging remark in the office and expects yourself to get away with it, I think this rule applies not just to newbies.
Even if you are an Industrial Relations Executive, drawn into a sensitive discussion on gender inequality in the workplace, you still have to stay objective.
Use your experience, past and present, not your perception, which might make your statement, personal.
If you need to argue, do it professionally, passionately, but never emotionally, which means you leave a wide berth for other people’s opinion.
Never argue yourself into a corner, especially when you are in a new job, your new colleagues will be using whatever interactions they have with you to see if you can be counted upon to be a team worker, and ultimately someone they can trust to be their leader.
If you have a closet pet peeve for dogs, or how people makes themselves ‘pawrents’ to their pets, keep this kind of skewed opinion out of your new workplace.
Unless you have a strong, medical allergy to dogs, it is better to leave your bias at home, and just do your job.
Leave some gap, and use diplomatic words to distance yourself from becoming too emotionally embroiled in a lifestyle argument which will gains you no brownie points at work and destroys any potential goodwill you are trying to build.
Keeping The Office Personal
You might want to bring some good luck charm for Fengshui reasons, which should be okay as long as it is not too ostentatious like a 6 feet Fortune Cat statue.
While it is best to err on the side of discreet, I think it is not only alright but an excellent idea to put a small 4R photo of your family, as it does help you focus on why you are there in the first place, bring the dough back to your loved ones.
I don’t think anyone will have a serious opinion if you have a lucky rabbit foot, as long as it is not a severed foot of a real rabbit.
You get the point, keep gross out of the new office, thank you.
Mid-term Probation Goals Are More Important
Keep your vision of becoming the Senior Global Emeritus Sale Director of the company out of sight; your immediate goal is to do a job good enough to pass probation.
Having mid-term goals is more helpful as it keeps you grounded, working close and hard with the people around you, interact with them, to find out who work well with who and how you can navigate any office politics, and mental mind fields (pun intended).
Think three months down the road, keep yourself tasked with making sure you are picking up the right skills and training to be proficient in your new job.
Observe how your peers and mentors are responding to you as a form of feedback, and ask for some, not just to get their acceptance but to make sure you are within the OB markers we spoke of earlier.
Sometimes, you might unwittingly infringe certain unspoken rules and your seniors might be unwilling to tell you or they might have just forgotten.
Asking for feedback gives people a window for them to collect their thoughts on you and give you constructive and positive feedback to help you improve on your new job.
Taking Yourself Out Of The Job Market
Since you have started on your new job, remember to change your job search status in your job portals, so that you don’t get calls from recruiters when your mentor is coaching you on the finer details of your new job.
As your job search is finally over, you can finally take off your candidate hat and write a new chapter of your career, and the last thing you want is to give your new employer a wind of you still active on the job market.
Stay committed, learn the ropes, and you will be on your way to a rewarding career.