At long last, your hard work and determination have paid off and you’ve landed your dream job. There’s just one problem, however. You first need to get through your probation period and a voice in your head keeps saying, “I’m scared I won’t pass probation.”
Unfortunately, probation is standard procedure in most companies. During this period, which typically lasts three months but can also be longer, an employer assesses whether a new employee will be a good fit for the company.
While it’s wise not to panic, you should be aware of the fact that about 20% of employees in the U.S. fail their probation. For this reason, it may be useful to think about how you plan to tackle your probation period and deal with the feeling of being “scared I won’t pass probation.”
Here are a few steps you can take to ensure that you sail through probation unscathed.
1. Keep Your Side Clean
The first logical step to take if you’re scared of failing your probation is to ensure that you don’t break any rules and that your performance is up to standard. Here are a few examples of basic steps you can take during your probation:
- Pitch up for work before the official start of the day.
- Don’t rush off once the workday is finished.
- Don’t ask for time off.
- Look presentable and professional at all times.
In addition, you should ensure that your work is done well and that you deliver within the given timeframes. According to statistics, most employees who don’t make probation, fail due to poor performance.
To prevent a situation where you’re not sure of what’s expected of you, you should carefully read through your job description and the company’s probation policy.
If possible, ask for a meeting with your manager so that they can provide you with the objectives you need to meet in order to pass your probation.
You should also not be scared of asking for feedback when you’re not sure how you’re faring, or for assistance when you don’t know how to execute a task. You’re in a new position and work environment so your manager and coworkers will not judge you if you reach out to them.
2. Don’t Be Too Pushy or Try To Change Things
Although it’s important that you take initiative and come up with good ideas while on probation, you should be careful not to overstep the boundaries. Your coworkers are bound to react negatively if you try to change the way that things are done in your first few months at the company.
Even if you’re right and the company’s systems and processes need overhauling, it’s best for you to first just fall in line and learn how things work before you offer suggestions. While you don’t want to come across as subservient or unconfident, it’s advisable to just keep your head down and get the work done while you’re on probation.
You should definitely network with your coworkers, though, by offering to help where you can, asking them for assistance or guidance, and asking about their lives while waiting for the office kettle to boil. What you want to avoid, however, is bossing fellow employees around or being critical of how things are done in the office.
Even more importantly, avoid challenging your boss’s decisions while you’re on probation. In the event that you feel it’s necessary for you to question something, ensure that you do so in a professional and unaggressive way.
3. Avoid Office Politics
As stated above, while you’re on probation, it’s important to network with coworkers. You want to show a healthy interest in what’s going on in the office and also in how your coworkers operate. It’s advisable to learn about the work preferences of the members of your team so that you can slot in seamlessly and won’t step on anyone’s toes.
You can also show an interest in the private lives of the coworkers you’ll be working with closely, such as finding out whether they have kids or where they live. However, you should never get involved in office gossip or politics. Although this is recommendable throughout your career, it’s doubly pertinent during your probation period.
Since you don’t really know your colleagues or about the dynamics in the office, you want to remain as neutral as possible to avoid upsetting people. The last thing you want during your probation period is to gain a reputation as a troublemaker or a gossiper.
It’s also a good idea to rather not participate in conversations that are about potentially sensitive or offensive topics, such as religion, gender, race, or politics. Your probation period is not the appropriate time for you to share your opinions on such issues. If you do, you may just draw attention to yourself — the kind of negative attention that you don’t want.
4. Try To Become Indispensable
Being on probation is not easy, especially if you’re constantly thinking “I’m scared I won’t pass probation.” One of the most effective ways to win over your fellow workers and allay your fears is to take action.
While you should never neglect your personal work tasks, aim to go above and beyond the call of duty. In the end, it is the employee who is always willing to help out a coworker or work overtime to get a job done who becomes indispensable to a team.
It all comes down to being a good team player. If coworkers know that they can count on you, not only in the good times but also when the going gets tough, you’re bound to become indispensable to them. While you want to guard against burn-out or neglecting your own workload, try to push yourself a bit during your probation period.
This is a time in which you want to show your manager and fellow workers what you’re made of and how you can make their lives easier. Here are a few suggestions of steps you can take to become an indispensable member of your team:
- Offer to take on some of the tasks of a team member who is bogged down with work.
- Offer to take on a fellow member’s overtime shift when they have other responsibilities to take care of.
- Show kindness to a team member who is experiencing personal issues by asking how they are or buying them a cup of coffee.
- Aim to be a team member who resolves conflict situations and comes up with solutions as opposed to complaints.
- Be willing to work overtime when project deadlines are tight.
- Be the first in and the last to leave.
5. Take Care of Yourself
Getting through your probation period can be taxing on your mental and physical health. Stressors such as feeling “scared I won’t pass probation” and having to learn the ropes in a new job setting can leave you feeling exhausted and anxious, and can even make you ill. This is not ideal when you’re on probation and trying to prove yourself to your manager and coworkers.
To ensure that you maintain high energy levels, a positive mindset, and an alert mind while you’re on probation, you need to take care of yourself. Here are a few steps you can follow to ensure that you maintain your physical and mental health during probation:
- Get enough sleep: Getting through probation in one piece requires a careful balancing act. While you want to offer to work overtime, you also need to ensure that you get enough rest. If you’re feeling exhausted, it’s best to head home and get a good night’s sleep.
- Eat healthily: Your body needs adequate nutrients and vitamins to maintain high energy levels, especially when you’re stressed and busy. If you don’t have enough time to cook every day, try to get healthy take-out food and invest in quality supplements.
- Get some exercise: Exercise is a great stress reliever and also helps to alleviate aches and pains in the body. Even if it means climbing the stairs to your office or apartment as opposed to taking the lift, try to get as much exercise as you can. Yoga is especially effective if you’re feeling anxious and stressed.
- Don’t sweat the small stuff: Try to keep a balanced perspective while you’re on probation. You’re bound to make mistakes and your boss and coworkers will undoubtedly expect you to. Instead of focusing on minor errors, learn from them and move on. Remember, the company chose you for the role, and for a good reason. So, be confident in your abilities and foster a positive attitude.
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