Probation period is a frame of introductory or trial time before someone is extended a confirmed position with a company. The probation period is mainly associated with permanent employment, as contractual position do not normally have probation in practice. The primary purpose of the probation is to allow an employer to assess new employee’s suitability that will grant a continued employment with the organization. An unofficial way to think is to regard probation as a ‘qualifying period’. A probation period is not compulsory but is always recommended in the employment practice.
Usually, the period of probation lasts between 3 to 6 months. However, depending on circumstances and the prevailing needs of the company, it can be shorter or longer than that. An employee who passes the probation period is called a confirmed employee. A probation period may be extended when the initial stipulated period has not been satisfactory for the company to make up their mind and decides if you should be confirmed.
Here is how the probation can possibly fail you and result in termination of employment:
1. Your work performance
By right, your work performance is the primary indicator that decides if you are to be confirmed, or else terminated. There may or may not be a standard reporting procedure or performance appraisal in place (since there is no legislative requirement that instructed a company to have one), but at the end of day, the employer should be able to know if your performance is up to the expected standard.
While your resume and your interview performance impart an impression that you are ready to take the job, your daily job performance can exhibit otherwise. A fair employment practice is to have periodical meeting between the employer and the new employee to review your work performance, address the performance related issues, and devise strategy how the employee can improve and elevate the work performance up to the accepted standard.
2. Lack of attitude
If you manage to show good work performance but your attitude towards your work provides indication that you’re a little bit “off”, then chances are you won’t be converted into a permanent staff, and soon will be handed the ‘ding dong’ letter. Competent worker who does not have the right attitude will not stay at the top for long. Addressing your attitude problem adversely affects your manager’s resources as more time is needed to manage your issues. Attitude problem also resulted in lowly motivated and negative bunch of employees.
Personally, I prefer to work with less competent people with the right attitude rather than with a competent people with lack of attitude. In the past, I have come across coworkers who were great in doing their job but were annoyingly pathetic in attitude and behavior. Needless to say, the bad attitude affected the overall performance of the team and the company. Some were moody in their job. Some bitched on a lot of silly things. Some others lied to their colleagues.
A company is run based on some appropriate code of conduct, rules and regulations. Rules are there in their place to maintain discipline and harmony in the organization. Termination due to misconduct is not only applicable during probation but across your whole employment with your organization. Some misconducts are serious that they granted immediate termination (or even reported to the police) – e.g. causing bodily harm to fellow colleagues, verbally threatening the life of your boss and so on. Your refusal to carry out lawful instructed duty can also deemed as a misconduct.
4. Not a team player
A strong and competent team can only be successfully developed if each and every member in the team can work together. As we have constantly heard – there is no ‘i’ in the word ‘team’. Being a team player means that you are willing to contribute ideas and participate in activities and discussions. It means you accept accountability and ownership of your designated task and role. It means you recognize and acknowledge the contribution of other team members. If you can’t be a team player, then might as well you don’t be in the team. It’s as simple as that. So to avoid early exit, get to know your colleagues, get along well with them, and blend into the team.
5. Can’t adapt to the work culture
If you’re fresh from the college, don’t expect the employment world to be anything like during your college time. If you do, then your fate is inevitable. You will fail your probation miserably. You may as well experience a culture shock in your very first job. If, during your schooling time, most of your needs and information were spoon-fed from the teachers and lecturers, don’t expect to get the same treatment in the working world. Welcome to the real world. The same advice goes to experienced staff. No two companies are the same, especially when we are talking about the increasingly competitive industry. If you’re working as fast as a Toyota in your past employment, always be prepared to work at the speed of a Mercedes in your next job.
Probation is not only for the employer’s cause.
With all the above being discussed, many have this gross misconception that probation is a clause merely used to protect the interest of the employer. Perhaps the most painful part is the short notice of work termination, e.g. the employer can terminate your service during probation period by giving you a week notice (or even immediate notice). While this may be true to some extent, the probation is also here to give you, the new employee, an opportunity to obtain a similar objective. This is especially true when you are being approached or courted by a recruiter/headhunter during your early days with the new company. If the job is not suitable for you (for whatever reason), you can also leave the company within the period stated in your employment letter.