How to Have a Positive Experience During the Probationary Period at Your New Job
Updated: Jun 13
When you start a new position at a company, there's that awkward probationary period that you need to navigate before settling into your chosen role. During this time, one of your biggest obstacles is to be accepted by new coworkers. So, how do you turn them into allies, while you adapt to your new position? You may think that you don't need that acceptance from your new colleagues, although getting along with coworkers and others at the office definitely makes life easier at work. After all you do want a positive experience during those first three months to align yourself for future growth.
How Stories Build Assumptions Around Being Accepted By New Coworkers
When I was younger, me and my friends would sit on a bench in the mall and observe people as they go by. It was quite entertaining, especially when we'd create stories based on how they looked, acted and what they wore. We'd be very inventive, and have their whole life detailed from career to the type of partner.
Characterizing is what all of us do, consciously or unconsciously. You see someone and based on their appearance you create a story around them. Assumptions are formed, and as you learn more about them that story begins to develop.
Have you ever talked to someone on the phone, and then when you finally meet them you say, "I thought you'd be much different?" That's because we created a story about them based on their voice, tone, word usage, pauses and the rapport we built with them.
You make up these stories because you have this need to fill in the blanks instead of being okay with not knowing. The shame of it, is that you hold onto that story and start to view them as such— creating emotions around it and deciding if you like them or not.
An Example of How Assumptions Can Effect Being Accepted During A Probationary Period
I recall when I worked in the corporate environment, there was a new member hired in our department. Before she even stepped into the office on her first day there was "talk" about her. Some of my colleagues were suspicious that she might be hired to replace one of them. The story was developing. When the new woman came aboard she was just lovely, and more than qualified for the position she filled. Although, she chose to get to know me and not make the effort to get to know the other older ladies on the team, who had been there for far longer than I had. The story that the older ladies formed from the beginning remained intact and they decided "she wasn't a good fit for the team." Four months later she quit.
4 Ways You Can Make Your Experience At A New Job More Positive With Colleagues
To keep you from living a similar experience, here are four strategies to help integrate into a new company more successfully:
1. Ask the interviewer about work culture
When you receive notice that you got the position, ask this: "Do you have any advice for my few first weeks?" This should give you a general idea of the culture at this company, and how they support new employees.
2. Befriend the Gate-Keeper
One of the first people you should befriend is the gate keeper of the company. This person has eyes and ears open to what's going on behind the scenes. Don't ever underestimate the power of this position. This person maybe the administration manager, executive assistant, payroll department, human resources, scheduling manager, or basically, who has been there the longest.
3. Show Interest in Your New Coworkers
Approach new colleagues and show an interest in their job and their personal life. Then be sure to get their permission to ask for help before it's needed. This will make them feel important, valued and respected.
4. Be Kind and Authentic
Colleagues will be more able to build trust and feel at ease when your behaviour is consistent—thus adding positive information to the story they have, and building a more valued relationship.
Starting a new position in a company can be very challenging, especially if your new employer doesn't have a system to integrate new employees, or has a poor one. If you're unable to mesh in a timely manner that may be discouraging, and end up wasting time and money for both yourself and the employer.
Identifying if a potential employer has an employee integration, or on-boarding plan during the interview, can be an important factor when deciding to join them or not. The job search experience can be very daunting and time consuming, so investing time and money in the probationary period is well spent. Please share if you think this will be useful to someone else.
Christine Hourd, ACC is a certified professional success and leadership life coach in Calgary, Alberta. She works with clients online and in person to remove obstacles and create strategies around career and employment experience. Talk to Christine and find out how the Success Mastery Program can help you reach your goals.