Think about the sort of questions that are asked at a job interview and you’d probably come up with some or all of the following:
Examples of your work that demonstrate specific competencies
An achievement you are proud of
How you might handle a hypothetical situation
It is unlikely that you will be asked about your values directly,
And it’s even less likely that you’ll be given time to really experience what it’s like to work within the company before accepting a position.
Most companies will have an employee manual of sorts, countless policies, and press cuttings that give a flavour of how it operates or tries to operate. These provide some insight but are often indistinguishable from any other company’s.
Then there are independent quality standards and accreditations. These tell us that the company has bought into certain principles and manages its affairs according to those principles when the auditors come calling. They don’t tell us with any certainty how the company operates day-in-day-out 365 times a year.
So joining a new company requires a huge leap of faith. Faith in the printed list of Company Values, faith in the Quality marks & badges, faith in the internal policies, and faith in the people who appointed you from the interview – “If they think I’m good enough, that’s good enough for me.”
It isn’t until you’ve spent a few days in the company and come up against a few tricky situations that the truth will out. Only then do you get to see what the company is really like and how it really does things. Only then do you begin to see whether your values and professional standards line up with your employer’s. And by then, it’s too late; the damage is done; extricating yourself is costly, and staying may cost you your sanity.
Probationary periods are commonplace with most employment contracts, but new
Therefore, new employees should use the probationary period to test out the company’s marketing hype and put the company on probation. You should use this precious opportunity to really evaluate whether you can thrive in the culture that permeates the organisation; check whether your principles and values can be accommodated and celebrated within the business; and really determine whether the company values are paper thin.
Probation needs to look and feel like a two-way assessment where both sides are reassured and gain confidence and in each other, or choose to part company with no hard-feelings or loss of face.