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Probationary period: The first 100 days on the job

Katja Mayer 15.03.2012
The first three months in a new profession definitely aren’t a piece of cake. Sure, you have the right qualifications for the job – otherwise you wouldn’t have been hired. 

However, the probationary period involves quite a bit more than just completing your tasks satisfactorily. You have to learn all the rest: internal processes and responsibilities, company and team habits, and each new co-worker’s particular preferences and idiosyncrasies. Obviously, some problems can be expected.

You will make mistakes, put your foot in your mouth, at times bug your colleagues and frequently reach the limits of your ability to learn new information and tolerate frustration. As a rule, people will (hopefully) be very patient with you in the beginning. After all, everyone knows what it’s like to be thrown in the water and have to swim on your own. No matter how understanding people are, however, you won’t be allowed to get away with everything.
You can avoid getting in too deep if you adhere to the following recommendations – our list of “dos” for people just starting a new job:

1. Seek out contact

You are the new one. So it’s your job to approach others and introduce yourself to your co-workers – even if your boss has already done so briefly. Somehow everyone expects it. So when you have a chance, try to have a conversation with each and every individual you’ll be working with. A little introductory celebration with a muffin or some cookies can also help break the ice. The more attentive you are toward your co-workers, the more likely they are to voluntarily support you.

2. Show interest 

100 Tage: Mache einen guten Eindruck in der Probezeit

In the beginning, you will no doubt have a lot of questions. Do not fail to ask them! By doing so, you provide evidence of your interest in the job as well as getting to know the company’s ways of doing things. Besides, such questions are more likely to be tolerated during the first few weeks than after 90 days. After that, they just sound clueless. But no matter how much interest you show in your co-workers, make sure you never get too chummy. Don’t be indiscreet.

3. Remain polite

If one of your co-workers takes time for you, he or she deserves your full attention. It sounds obvious, but it’s definitely not something everyone does. Especially when things get more stressful. Doing something else on the side, or worse, trying to get away from the co-worker who is addressing you, is beyond rude. Someone is taking time for you, and you should do the same. After all, it’s always possible to find a little time.

4. Demonstrate your commitment

Of course you don’t need to be asked twice to complete a task. But it would be even better to offer to do (burdensome) tasks yourself and thereby relieve your co-workers of some of those duties. Especially if you just happen to have a little downtime. Of course your point is not just to look good in front of your boss, but rather to learn something and show that you are truly enriching the team.

5. Ask for feedback

Often, feedback (unfortunately) doesn’t happen automatically. But you need it in order to know how you can continue to develop and improve. So please don’t ever take criticism personally, but see it as an opportunity to continually raise your performance level. At some point, praise for your performance will then definitely follow upon the criticism. And that gives you even more motivation.

6. Create added value. 

But the most important recommendation is to do your work well. In the final analysis, after all, it’s about convincing the boss that he or she made the right choice. And that works best when you go beyond just carrying out your duties in an exemplary fashion to create something more, something that no one expects – added value! It can mean initiating a project of your own that benefits the company. Or thinking beyond what is required and solving problems before others do. The resulting sense of surprise will convince even the biggest skeptics.

Read more about "How to Fit In, Stand Out, and Move Up at Your First Real Job" - a book by Emily Bennington.

How about you? What are your plans for the first 100 days at a new job?