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Do's and don'ts during your probation period

by Rayhaneh Tehrani | 3 July 2019

Have you recently started a new legal job and wondered what the etiquette is during your probationary period? To get yourself noticed in the right way and to help you pass your probation, we have put together a list of do’s and don’ts. Rayhaneh Tehrani, Manager and specialist legal recruiter at Sellick Partnership, gives her advice on your probationary period, and what to do when you start a new role.

When you start in a new role you may be subject to a probationary period. This is a mutual agreement between you and your employer for a specific period of time, typically between 1-6 months. Your employer may set out some specific targets for you during this time and will assess your overall performance in your new role. However, probationary periods are not just for the employer. It also allows you to terminate your contract of employment without having to abide by the usual lengthy notice period, should the role or business not be right for you.

Generally your probationary period is a time in which there is lots of invaluable support and training provided by your employer, to help you to develop and meet the expectations of the role. Therefore this time should be seen as a benefit rather than something to be feared.

Do's during your probationary period

Although you do not need to ensure you do absolutely everything on this list, making sure you adhere to just a few of these will help you to make a great first impression.

  • Have a thorough understanding of the responsibilities: before you start on your first day, go back through the job description you were given during the interview stage and remind yourself of your daily duties. Usually you will be given an induction schedule for your first few weeks, so make sure you fully understand everything and are aware of the tasks you will be required to undertake.
  • Sit down with your line manager to discuss the expectations set: once you have received your induction schedule and had time to go through each of your activities, pencil some time in with your manager. Make sure your schedule and probationary period expectations are approved and agreed to by both parties in writing.
  • Make sure you have a clear understanding of how the company works: take a look at the company’s website, including their Vision, Mission and Values. Find out what their internal structure is and who the stakeholders are that you will be working with. Knowledge is power, so the more that you know the better it will reflect on you.
  • Depending on your role, you may want to spend some time getting to know your customer/client base: If your role does not require communicating with customers and clients, then make sure you spend some time getting to know internal stakeholders within the business you work for. Introducing yourself will show that you have taken the initiative and will also help you to forge long-term relationships. Remember, always be yourself and be open and honest.

  • Ensure you are actively listening and engaging with your new team: it is very easy to sit and listen to all the information being given, but do not be afraid to ask questions and get to know your new colleagues. The more you interact with everyone, the more comfortable you will feel to ask questions. By understanding how your team works, the easier it will be to work in sync with your new team.
  • If you are not sure about something, ask for help: it is better to ask questions in the early stages. This will also show that you are pro-active and taking an interest in how the business works.
  • Take responsibility: if you do make any errors or mistakes then hold your hands up – people will appreciate your honesty. It is only human to make mistakes, and no one will expect you to be perfect, especially in your first few weeks in a new business.
  • Keep track of any achievements you make during your probationary period: this will help to document the work you have done and allows you to show your manager what you have learned.

Don'ts during your probationary period

If you want to ensure you pass your probationary period with flying colours, make sure you do not do any of the following points. It could damage your reputation and also prevent you from passing your probationary period.

  • Try not take any holidays during your probationary period: unless it was pre-agreed before you accepted the role. You may have been asked if you had any holidays booked during the interview stage, which is the best time to let your new management know about any commitments you have already agreed to. If you have not mentioned this until your first day, you risk missing out on important training days which may have already been booked in for you.
  • Never turn up late for work: if you are going to be late due to things out of your control e.g. trains being delayed or cancelled, then make sure you inform your manager and team in plenty of time.
  • Never come back late from your lunch break: try not to take excessive breaks throughout the day. This is not to say you cannot take 5 minutes away from your desk, but do not take too many breaks that may be deemed excessive.
  • Try not to get involved in any conflict with stakeholders: if anything does occur, remain neutral and if you are really unsure, speak with your line manager.
  • Avoid gossiping: getting involved in any office gossip will look bad on you, and you could end up with a bad reputation with senior stakeholders, including your manager.

These points will not guarantee you pass your probationary period but they will certainly help you along the way. If you need any advice then please don't hesitate to contact us on 0161 834 1642.

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