We often plan meticulously for interviews and presentations, but rarely are we offered any advice on how to actually get through the first day/week/month – and then there’s the all important probation meeting (or three month review).
Hopefully this short guide will give you some helpful hints to ensure you impress your boss as much throughout this period as you did during the interview process.
The First Day
- It goes without saying really; don’t have a big weekend of celebrating your good fortune of landing this new position just before you start. Make sure you set some time aside to relax and prepare for your first day. No one wants a new starter who turns up with a hangover. Get an early night and be ready to arrive early and be fresh for your first day.
- Plan your first day outfit and journey to work in advance, to avoid any last-minute stress in the morning. Leave with plenty of time to get there, and arrive a few minutes early if you can.
- You may need to take in ID, your P45 and bank details - so have this prepared in advance.
- Most companies will provide you with stationary and notepads, but it is useful to take one to make notes - just in case!
- Be ready to spend time doing an induction with HR. This can sometimes be a little tiresome if you are learning about the nearest fire exit and other endless health and safety rules – but be patient, polite and pay attention. They have a job to do too, so try to avoid looking disinterested
The First Week
- The first week can often be exhausting, as you will be expected to learn and take in a lot of information in a short space of time. Make sure you prepare for this in advance by eliminating tasks that can become a chore outside of work. For example, get domestic chores out of the way at the weekend so you can come home and relax during your first week, rather than worrying about cleaning and washing (if you are that way inclined!!)
- It can also be useful to plan mundane tasks like food shopping and dinners in advance – or rope someone else in to do it for you (!) so you can spend more time relaxing when you get home, or even set a good impression by working a bit later than expected during this first week in order to get to grips with your new role.
- Whilst at the office, make sure you are warm, friendly and professional to everyone you meet, whether they be more senior or junior than you. You are the new person so everyone will be checking you out, so be nice and remember first impressions really count.
- It can be useful to plot people’s names on a seating plan, to help you remember everyone during your first week.
- It can also be a good move to go for lunch with a team member during the first week, as they will be an valuable source of information to help you settle in.
- Make sure you make lots of notes throughout your first week on anything that might be important to remember, whether it be a system, process or phone number – your notes can become your directory, and easy to refer to if you are ever unsure of anything
- Don’t be afraid to ask questions – it’s expected in your first week, so ask away!
- When Friday comes and you are invited down the pub with your new team – be conscious. They are your ‘new team’ after all. Getting too drunk and embarrassing yourself may be highly amusing for them, but you won’t feel amused with yourself the next morning. Be conscious of this and know your limits.
The First Month
- Once your first week is over, the weeks after this can often fly by. It’s good to make sure you have a meeting with your manager during this period, to set out what the expectations are from you during your first month in the role. Having a clear plan will help you find your feet, and manage your time over the coming weeks. Make sure you have established what resources you need in order to do so successfully, and if you don’t have them in place make sure you find out where you can gather them from.
- Making a clear list of personal objectives you want to achieve outside of your managers expectations will also help you, and give you something to measure yourself against at the end of this period.
- Make sure, if appropriate, that you plan a catch-up meeting with your manager at the end of this period to discuss how you are getting on. Do you require any additional support or training in the coming weeks, to ensure that you are confident in your role by the time you reach your 3 month probation period?
The 3 Month Probation Review
- Most companies will have a formal probation process which will normally be at 3 months. In advance of you having this meeting, your Manager/HR department will usually give you an appraisal form to complete, or set some objectives for you to prepare for discussion during the meeting.
- The questions will tend to be self-explanatory, therefore you shouldn’t find it hard to provide the information requested. Generally they will relate to your experience and performance over the initial 3 months.
- Take the time to consider the information they’ve requested, as this your chance to discuss any problems you may have encountered, successes you have had, or further support and training you may need.
- Although your manager is there to ‘appraise’ you in the first instance, they may also ask you for feedback on how you have found your initial period in the company and if you have any thoughts or recommendations on how things could be improved. Be ready for this and be willing to share your thoughts.
- As mentioned earlier, you may also have set yourself some personal objectives outside of those expected by your manager. Now is your time to report back on these, and perhaps even use the information you present to negotiate a successful probation completion pay-rise, if this is appropriate.
- The end of this period will often indicate that you have settled into your new role, and are able to carry out your job as required. To ensure that you continue to do, make sure that you agree with your manager to some further objectives so you know what you will looking to achieve over the coming year - ready for your next review. It’s important that you don’t just impress during your first 3 months, but beyond also…