On The Job: Probation: Acing The First 90 Days

Congratulations, you’ve finally landed that job for which you’ve been searching. Just as you’re about to breathe a sigh of relief, HR mentions probation — the 90 day period in which your supervisor will assess how well you do your job,  how well you fit in and whether you should keep this new job. Your benefits such as health insurance may not even start until the probation period is over. Not to worry. Here are some tips to acing your first 90 days on the job.

Before You Start: Write down the three most important reasons why you wanted this job. Remind yourself what your expectations for this job are, and what you want to accomplish.

On The Job:

Be early: Arrive early and be ready to work. Go to work functions such as happy hour, group movie nights and lunches out of the office so you can get to know your co-workers. Don’t get the reputation of being anti-social or always the first one out of the door at the end of the day.

Job Description/Performance Goals: Get your job description in writing if you do not already have it, and talk with your supervisor about the company’s performance expectations of you. Do not wait for your supervisor to call you into her office. Track your progress yourself. Ask for a performance review after you have been there for 6 weeks. This gives you time to work on fixing problems that could get you sacked before or at the end of your probation.

Observe: Pay attention to company culture and be wary of voicing your opinions unless asked to do so. Even then, be careful; you may be criticizing a pet project of the boss’s. Instead, offer what you think is good about the project, what may need tweaking and how tweak it to make the project even better — even if you think it stinks. There may be reasons to which you are not privy as to why the project is being implemented. Determine your supervisor’s communication and leading styles (stopping by your cubicle unannounced, a phone call to call you into her office, or email, delegating or micromanaging) and do everything you can to respond positively to these styles.

Around the Water Cooler: Get a reputation for being a great listener; leave off the gossip and stay neutral. You can learn a lot about the company culture and what is ahead for your job, as well as how the company got to where it is.

Questions: Ask questions. This is where listening can help you succeed. The more you listen, perhaps the fewer questions you need to ask. Choose your questions carefully to avoid mistakes. Do not ask for information that has already been given to you unless you need some clarification.

Stay Organized: Keep a check list of everything you need to get done — short-term and long-term. Look at your check lists when you come in to see what needs to get done each day. Look at your check lists before you leave at night to see what you accomplished each day and to prepare you for the next day.

Be Friendly/Flexible/Helpful: Be open to your supervisors and colleagues and to change. Show you are a team player, and you will find that people will voluntarily give you information to help you succeed.

Take note: You may not be on probation as a contractor, but all of this information still applies to you, as you may be working with the supervisors and colleagues you have now again in the future.

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