(The author is an Organisational Development Practitioner)
‘Why do I have to be subjected to a probation period when I have gone through three interview processes and have been confirmed as the best person to take up this job?’, Onesmus wondered as he approached the end of his first week at the audit firm. He had been through a written interview and 2 oral sessions in which he had competed with a total of 65 people. Only 5 of the 65 candidates had been considered for the jobs and were all now serving their probation period.
The probation period is a requirement in most of the labour laws. It is provided as the opportunity that the employer and the employee have to ‘test and taste’ each other before making the final determination on whether the right choice had been made. The employer takes the time to gauge the appropriateness of the hired candidate. This is critical since at the hiring moment, the employer relies a lot on what is indicated on the CV and the oral presentation by the candidate. It is then necessary for the employer to observe the hired candidate at work, and make the final decision on the capacities and potential of the candidate.
For the new employee, the probation period is critical. As much as many people indicate that they would pursue just any job that presents itself, the probation period provides one with an opportunity to scrutinise the real expectations of the job vis a vis personal interests and dreams. It is worth noting that during the recruitment process, many potential employees only rely on the job advert and the scanty information provided at the interview for their appreciation of the expectations of the job. The probation period hence provides one with a hands-on experience on the real tasks and the pressure associated with the job.
The fact that either the employer or the employee can cancel the contract within a relatively short notice during the probation period is however a key concern that many people have. Both employers and employees fear any eventuality and this causes anxiety in both should any decide to terminate the contract. The fear is more pronounced on the part of the new hire. Many of them engage with the new workplace with a lot of caution that they barely perform. They are careful not to make any significant decisions that relate to their roles for fear of having the decisions backfire on them.
On other occasions, they fear over involving themselves with the processes and systems lest they over step their mandate. This is understandable although it leads to leading a relatively plastic life. In such cases, I advise persons going through probation to throw a part of the caution to the wind and be themselves. Remember that you are being observed and if you project yourself as an indecisive staff, it could just be taken that is who you are. Remember that your colleagues, and especially your supervisor is interacting with you for the first time and hence need to study as much as they can about you. Your decision to hide a part of yourself could hence be counterproductive.
Be free; interact with people and clients as though you have been around for long. To be safe, seek for clarification on issues that are not clear before making any grand decisions.