So you go the job!! Congrats!!
However, the hard part starts now!!
Picture pre-season training – The early mornings, two a days, sprint and conditioning training, beep test, grueling cardio sessions, strict diet, in bed by 8pm, wake up at 5am, 3 hour practices, fitness tests, feeling tired non-stop…that’s what the first 90 days in your new job will be like!
Especially if it’s your first job since sport, it’s a completely new ball game! Not only will there be information overload, you’ll meet a lot of people, you’ll be watched like a hawk! There’ll be high expectations and constant pressure to pick things up as fast as possible. Even though you have minimum to no experience on the job, you’ll be expected to learn and perform at a rapid pace. If you don’t, you’ll most likely not pass the probationary period! Basically, it’s like an extension of the interview process, so you have to be on your game 24/7!
Yes, sounds scary but don’t be scared! You’ll get through it just like you got through pre-season training and successfully powered through the season.
Here are some proven tips that if you take to heart, action and truly implement, I guarantee you will not only pass probation, you’ll instantly be a company superstar!
The Week Before
Now is the time to do any research you missed in the interview stage. Find out anything you can about the company – its history, core values and aspirations for the future. Connect with your new colleagues on LinkedIn and begin updating your LinkedIn page. Think about your role & duties and start educating yourself so you can get a head start. Go to a library or book store and grab a relevant book – if you’re about to start a sales job, grab a copy of “How To Win Friends And Influence People” by Dale Carnegie – probably the best sales book ever written! Prepare the stationary you need, get a haircut, buy a new shirt, make sure your clothes are dry cleaned and ready to go. Whether you’re driving or taking public transport, make sure you know the way and how long it will take you to get there so you can arrive 15 minutes early on the first day.
Be Friendly, Approachable And Enthusiastic
First impressions are highly important! If there’s anywhere they count, it’s in the first couple weeks in your new job. Be enthusiastic by smiling, displaying positive body language and being very approachable. Get to know the people around you first and begin introducing your self to the entire company. Be especially extra friendly with the people around you, after all you’ll be seeing them up to 8 hours a day. Ask questions about them and be extra interested to know all about who they are – How long they been in the company? Ask about their families when appropriate and fits in with the convo. What their role is? Where are they from? Favorite coffee, book, movie? Be curious about the person next to you! It’s highly important you’re social with your team and are trying to fit in (without trying too hard, let it flow naturally) Be aware of your timing, arrive a little early and leave a little late, be early to meetings – it shows you’re keen! Highly important to remain positive and open to feedback and show you’re willing to learn.
The first 3-6 months will be information overload. From the manager’s point of view it’s just enough information, but as it’s a new role for you, naturally it will be information overload. Most companies will try to get their new employees to pick things up as fast as possible so they throw material/info at you at million miles an hour in large chunks. Remember, unfortunately they don’t see things from your point of view (this is new to me, slow/calm down), they think throwing info at you in bulk is the best way for you to learn. Sometimes it is the best way, maybe not the most effective & efficient but it can work. Keep in mind, they don’t care if you make mistakes they just want to see you are trying to learn and are showing signs of understanding.
So the best thing you can do to a) learn and b) show your manager you are willing to learn, is to take notes, and take more notes, in fact over-note things! Exaggerate on the note taking to the point of “the coffee barista’s name downstairs is Jason and his favourite socks are blue.” Almost go that far on the notes. More importantly have a little pocket sized notebook (where you keep your notes) & pen you take to every meeting with you, have with you 24/7 and always be reading this notebook! It shows your manager you’re all over it and gives them more confidence in you. If 30 minutes have passed and you haven’t taken a note down…take a note down! Even if it’s gibberish, your manager is thinking “wow this person is really trying to learn.” Sometimes perception is key! So…TAKE NOTES ALL THE TIME!!
Along with taking notes, ask a lot of questions and ask more questions. Naturally things will get confusing as you are learning new products, processes etc. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Throughout the day as you are learning and there’s no-one you can ask a question right now or you feel it’s inappropriate to ask a question, write the questions in your notebook and put a large “Q” next to it and highlight it. By end of the day you should have lots of “Qs,” in your notebook that you carry 24/7 and flaunt in your manager’s face (you know what I mean) approach your manager and/or a colleague and say “I have xx number of questions from today, when is the best time for me to ask these where you have some free time to go through them?” Guarantee your manager will get excited by this! You will have a lot of moments of confusion and uncertainty, the best way to gain clarity is by asking questions. Make sure you’re always thanking people for helping you! Never forget this quote – “the quality of your life is determined by the quality of your questions.”
Throw Yourself In The Fire
As soon as you pick up little bits and pieces and almost feel even a tiny bit confident with something take action! Start performing your duties/tasks. Ultimately, that’s how you will learn and your manager will love the activity. If it’s making phone calls, just make phone calls and fail! If it’s data entry, enter data and make mistakes! If it’s baking cakes, bake cakes and burn them! In the first 3-6 months your manager won’t care if you make mistakes, as long as you learn from each (repeating the same mistake 2-3 times is a no no, can’t help you there). All they want to see is you taking action and doing the activity! So go for it….Ready, Fire, Aim!!
Find A Buddy
Your company might have a “buddy system” and pair you up with someone, but if they don’t, find one! A buddy is someone who is doing the same role/job you are who becomes a mentor to you. It’s someone who’s been in the company for a number of years and is a high achiever. This is typically not your manager or someone from another department, it needs to be a colleague who is doing the exact same job as you and can show you the ropes. If the company doesn’t appoint a buddy, here are some useful tips in finding/approaching one:
Pick out someone who you think you’ll most likely get along with. When appropriate and the person has time, gently approach them with questions about the role. Make this person the one you ask questions more then anyone else (naturally, your buddy should be sitting/working in close proximity). Use gentle and subtle tactics when approaching you potential buddy – “so sorry to bother you, just had a quick question if that’s OK?” “Hey, sorry do you have a quick second, promise it won’t take long?” Going back to the “ask questions” section when you write a letter “Q” next to all the notes you wanted to ask more questions about – “Hey, if you’re free tomorrow morning 8:30am, would love to buy you a quick coffee and ask a few questions if you don’t mind?” It’s hard to refuse that approach! Building rapport with your buddy is a sure thing to engross you within the company culture. Ultimately, fitting in with company culture
is the most important factor when it comes to passing probation.
Agree With Everything Your Manager Says & Accept And Welcome Criticism
Even when they’re wrong! Accept the criticism & suggestions, take it on-board and move on. Throw your ego, pride out the window! The only thing you will ever achieve by arguing or disagreeing with your manager is….absolutely f*ck all!! Actually, you’ll Immediately be in the bad books and riding a slippery slope to failing probation.
Look at it this way – Is Lebron James allowed to talk back to his coach? Absolutely! Lebron is one of the greatest basketball players of all time, he’s been in the game a long time. His comments will always be respected. A good coach will respect what Lebron has to say and together they’ll come to an agreement. Rewind 18 years ago, is a rookie Lebron James allowed to talk back to his coach? Absolutely not! Easy rook, you just just started what do you know??
Same goes for your new job. You just started, you have no leg to stand on. Your manager’s been there a long time and has a big ego and all the power! (rightfully so) Keep your mouth shut and and agree with criticism, good or bad, true or not. Take your money, go home and do it again $$$!! The moment you agree and accept what your manager throws down, it sends warm & loving signals to your manager’s brain – “I like this person, they’re taking on-board what I’m saying, I’m a good manager, big tick for me.” In that moment your manager will automatically associate you with good, warm and positive feelings – That’s where you want to float in the first 3-6 months. You stay in that “positive” circle, and after a year in the role you’ve gained some experience, won respect and trust – OK, now you can SLOWLY start imposing your will, piece of mind and input. If you truly think your manager or a colleague is in the wrong, you most respectfully and professionally tell them (a year in the role, you will know the best way to go about it). However, in that first 3-6 months, keep your emotions in check, ego and pride out the window, listen, agree, accept criticism (right or wrong) and keep working hard – you do that and you will have a very successful post-sport career!
In summary – Be proactive about fitting in with the team culture, be social, make friends, show you’re eager to learn and succeed, take notes and ask lots of questions. If you truly follow and implement the above points, you will have a successful “pre-season” and be well on your way to have a winning season/s!