How to Pass Probation at Work

5 minute read

You’ve landed your dream job…congratulations! Starting a new role is an exciting experience, but it can also be stressful, as you need to pass probation at work.

There’s a lot to take in in the first few weeks —you’re getting to grips with a new environment, trying to learn new services and adapting to the charity culture, having to remember everyone’s name and impress your boss.

But, remember that you’ve made it this far for a reason. The probation period is your employer’s chance to determine whether they’ve made the right choice and your chance to show them exactly what you’re made of.

Need a few tips to help guide you in the right direction? Here’s how to pass probation at work.

Get to know the organisation and the people

Every organisation operates differently. In smaller charities, you’re more likely to be working closely with your colleagues. But if you’re somewhere larger, you may have to arrange more meetings and deal with different stakeholders on every project. It’s all about figuring out how your skills can help drive things in the right direction.

It’s important to get to know your manager, but also try to meet as many of your colleagues as you can. Make sure you understand what they each do and how this relates to your new job. They can offer valuable insight on how things work and provide support when you need it.

Getting along with your new team will be one of your greatest selling points. Passing probation at work isn’t just about proving that you can work hard, it’s also an opportunity to demonstrate your ability to lead and be a real team player.

Charity team sits round a table working at laptops

Connect with the cause and the culture

Working for a charity or social enterprise? These organisations are fuelled by passion. Your colleagues will often be very dedicated to the organisation’s cause and will want to see how it resonates with you. Get to know the values, culture and policies of your new workplace. It’s crucial to understanding what’s expected of you.

Listen out for key industry news, read leading sector publications and talk to your colleagues so that you’re constantly being kept up-to-date with what’s happening and can participate in discussions.

Be proactive and eager to learn

Not knowing what you’re supposed to do isn’t a crime! You’re new and it’s perfectly natural to have questions about your role or the organisation so you can pass probation at work. Ask as many questions as you need to—failing to do so may leave people thinking that you’re not all that interested. Show that you’re willing to use your initiative by constantly trying to improve yourself.

It’s important to be visible and offer to help out, especially for remote and hybrid roles. Everyone needs time to get to grips with their new responsibilities, but it’s hard for your manager and colleagues to give you any feedback if they haven’t seen much of you.

Try to make your mark by sharing your ideas and participating in discussions whenever you can. Employers don’t want to micromanage, so make it clear that you can be independent and contribute to the success of your new charity.

Don’t be afraid to own up to your mistakes

We can’t guarantee you won’t make any mistakes in your first few months. But it’s how you handle them that really defines the type of employee you are.

Always be honest and own up if you’ve done something wrong. Your probation is an adjustment period. The longer you’re there, the more comfortable you’ll be with the charity and how it operates.

So don’t beat yourself up when you stumble—your employer will appreciate your honesty and will have respect for you. It’s also an opportunity to reflect and put processes in place so that, next time, everything goes as planned.

Woman standing looking at a computer screen over the shoulder of another woman, sitting.

Be present, punctual and dont waste time

If you possibly can, avoid taking a sick day during your probation period. Many organisations don’t offer paid sick days during probation. Find out what the policies are so you know what to do if you are unwell before you pass probation at work.

Similarly, don’t take too much annual leave—remember, this is the time that you’re supposed to be learning and making your mark. If you’re not there, your employer can’t see your hard work, skills and talent.

Always be on time, including for video calls. If you’re running late, or having technology issues, let your manager know. Remember that logging on a few minutes early or working a few minutes later can make a good impression, rather than leaving at the first possible opportunity.

Don’t waste work time by googling irrelevant things on your work laptop, taking personal calls or scrolling your phone, at home or in the office. Even if you see your colleagues doing this, it doesn’t make a good impression. You need to focus on establishing yourself as a reliable team-member and understanding your charity’s policies about personal communications.

Go the extra mile

Bending over backwards to deliver above and beyond your manager’s expectations is a sure-fire way to pass probation at work. The more you do, the more your employer will rely on you which, in turn, makes you more valuable to them. Always go that extra mile—you have nothing to lose and everything to gain!

Find a career with meaning

Be confident, not cocky

There’s a fine line between confidence and arrogance. They hired you because they saw potential. That doesn’t mean that you can do no wrong.

Don’t be afraid to voice your opinion, especially if you’re bringing a fresh perspective to the table. Just remember that your colleagues also bring their own experience and values, so all input needs to be considered and respected. It’s all about being part of the team but not overpowering them.

Always be positive and professional

Positivity can go a long way, especially when you’re the new person in the office. It’s a well-known fact that being more positive in your behaviour, language and outlook makes room for greater success, satisfaction and reward in life. Positivity helps you engage with your colleagues and projects a good image of yourself, showing your attributes and personality in the best light.

And speaking of good image, remember to keep things professional. Avoid office gossip, and be careful if you’re involved in social gatherings with colleagues and alcohol is involved. All the good work you’ve been doing to pass probation at work can too easily be undone by one careless comment or action under the influence of alcohol.

two women laughing while having a pint in the pub

Ask for feedback

Once you feel settled and have got to grips with your new role, schedule some time to get feedback from your line manager. This shows that you care about your performance and are looking for ways to truly contribute to the organisation. Once you’ve received the constructive criticism you have the tools in place to surpass their expectations and pass probation at work!

It comes down to just getting comfortable with your new role and applying your skills and experience to make it your own. Don’t just try to copy what the previous role-holder did. You know you can do the job well, it’s all about proving it.

Looking for a new opportunity? Browse the latest charity roles.

This post was originally published in 2016 by Lea Samrani and has been fully updated to ensure relevance and to reflect the current job seeker experience.

Don't miss another post, sign up to our weekly newsletter

Thank you for subscribing, you're on the list for the next edition!

Karen Harlow

Karen Harlow is Senior Content Manager at CharityJob.

You might also like...

Sorry, no posts matched your criteria.