Will you pass your probation? 6 traps that may send you walking

By Robert Half July 23, 2017 at 2:00pm

In effect, every new employee in Australia is on probation. Keeping that in mind, play it safe… take it as an opportunity to prove you are an asset.

Australian employment law provides employers with a minimum employment period of six months (for businesses with 15 or more employees) or 12 months (with less than 15 employees). Within this timeframe, an employer is entitled to dismiss an employee, and the employee has little recourse to an unfair-dismissal claim unless they can prove illegal discrimination.

As your probation period is a vulnerable time, avoid the below traps that new employees can fall into.

1. Don’t make special requests:

If you haven’t had a holiday for three years, that’s your problem. Unless there really is a family emergency or major health issue, do not take sick days or apply for leave, transfers or anything else out of the ordinary until your period of probation is over.

2. Don’t take on the boss – about anything:

Your probation period is not the right time to assert your rights or challenge management’s decisions. While you shouldn't feel underpowered to offer your voice, if you feel the need to question something, do so in a professional manner.

3. Don’t get involved in office politics:

It’s easy to find yourself taking sides and expressing opinions about the inevitable conflicts and divisions within a workplace. Don’t do it. Your job is to be Switzerland – completely neutral on all issues – because you never know who you might be upsetting.

4. Don’t talk politics, religion, gender or any other controversial topics:

Save these discussions for your friends and family if you need to have them.

5. Don’t white-ant your peers:

This is not the time to start competing for that promotion. Just do your job well and wait until both feet are in the pool before trying to swim to the top.

6. Don’t do any of the following (during or after the probation period):

Do not use work time for social media, to take or make personal phone calls or to make comments about your work/peers/boss on social media. Don’t show up drunk or high, refuse to follow instructions, gossip about peers, steal, lie, engage in any form of sexual harassment, or pretend you know or can do more than is true.

It might sound like common sense, but instead, make sure you follow these simple mantras.

Put your best foot forward:

This probably should go without saying, but some employees get lulled into a false sense of security. Do your job to the best of your ability and do whatever it takes to gain the skills you need. Turn up a little early, leave a little late and give every indication that you are a good investment.

Get along with your workmates:

It’s not just your skills and competence that people are assessing during your probation period but also your ability to work with the team. Take some time to get to know them and get along with your fellow employees – their opinion of you will matter in the long run.

Know what’s expected of you:

Don’t just wing it – ask your boss for key performance indicators (KPIs), a full job description, regular feedback and someone to mentor you into the role. The more responsibility you take for getting it right, the better you look to the higher-ups.

Don't underestimate the importance of the probation period. While you your resume, job interview and acceptance offer may have gone smoothly with your new employer, the probation period the critical phase to prove that you can accomplish everything you have previously discussed. Take these tips on board and you'll find that your probation period will be a breeze to secure this job opportunity.

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