If you are in your 20’s you’ve been put on probation more times than you anticipated but that comes with the territory. Unfortunately most of us have been making unseen mistakes during our probation periods which make us unsatisfied with our jobs and sometimes some of us quit our jobs without knowing the problem usually stems from the way we handle ourselves during the probation period.
Here is one scenario and it was my scenario;
I went in for an interview as a Writer/ Reporter. Got called back for the job and my new Boss told me;
“I’m giving you 6 months’ probation and during that time you’ll learn how the company operates. The ins and outs of your new job and what’s required to be a journalist…”
And I quickly cut him short;
“Make it 2 months”
“No you’ll need 6 months to have the perfect learning curve”
“I only need 2months”
“OK so what goal are you going to achieve”
“I will produce a cover story within 2 months”
“OK, but you have to keep in mind you’ll still complete your 6months probation”
The above dialogue is what happens to the best of us out there. We want to show our would-be employers that we are hardworking, smart and we can bend the natural learning curve and achieve the impossible. Well that’s almost cute but it’s impossible.
To pull off my 2 months a cover story bet with my new boss demanded I put in extra hours that meant day and night to achieve it. I cut out play time, relaxing time, sleep time and family time to make that happen.
In the beginning it was OK since I was a rookie and not a Mass Communication Graduate, I had to learn a lot within 2 months like cold calling, interviewing and the master of all writing news articles.
I spent the best of my time learning this and when I was done I was able to produce a cover story on my own by sheer chance or may be the gods intervened on my part within 2 months…truth is I don’t know how I pulled it off.
But after exhibiting my traits and how far I was willing to go, what I didn’t know was that I had created a different picture of myself in my Boss’ mind. I became his go to person for the impossible. I became the person he trusted to pull off stories every week no matter what happened.
Granted I went ahead to uphold that picture in his mind for a while and went from one achievement to another until my mind and body got exhausted from the manipulation (operating on little or no sleep, exercise and extreme yoga practices). My body finally broke down and I really needed real rest but I couldn’t ask for time off since I was still on probation.
So I pulled out the classic, I started calling in sick sometimes and on other occasions the stories started getting delayed. Suddenly I started dismantling a picture that was perfectly framed in my boss’s mind. Looking back now he had the right to be mad and I was a fool.
New jobs excite and if that new job is your dream job you can actually move hell and high waters to impress your new Boss as long as he/she lets you work at the Company of your dreams. But what we often forget is that we have 6 months to impress we don’t have to do it all in one month or two. Sadly that is what happens.
So if you are a new employee on probation instead of rushing into it breathe in, you don’t need to be a superstar, you are an employee and to achieve the perfect balance between that, below are some of the things you’ll need to know.
Your job description is your new to-do list: Use it to break down the hardest tasks that you need to pull off and the ones you need to learn how to pull off. Flesh them out throughout the 6 months and keep account of what you learn each week and for how long it took you to learn.
That way you will avoid getting desperate to cross the finish line quickly since you’ll have something new to learn each week for 6 months
Make mistakes: Don’t be afraid to make mistakes because nobody is expecting you to be perfect you’re on probation (although you need to keep in mind that your mistakes don’t cost the company any money at all). The more mistakes you make the more opportunities of learning you create for yourself.
Start practicing the work life balance within this period: Make this the time in which you schedule some free time with your family, friends and even just for yourself in that when you start working full time nobody will be expecting you to put in extra hours than you’ve been putting in before.
Don’t do the impossible, do the possible: I know it is very tempting to do the impossible because it gets you promoted. But if you do the impossible on probation you make it hard for yourself to ever do the possible after probation. Whatever you deliver during your probation period is what will be expected of you for the rest of your work tenure anything below that will get you fired
So you have to watch out for that and your colleagues. If you’re new colleagues notice your plan is to impress the Boss and some of your work was so good the Boss has been giving them backlashes.
You may become the target of office politics even if you are the best player on the team, office politics can get you out of a job faster than company security so you need to take it slow. Just seat back and learn the office culture and how people conduct their work, the level of bureaucracy and so on.
Always save your best for last. There is a bible verse I like that says the fastest runner always never wins the race…there is a lot of wisdom there take it and apply it in your day to day life.