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How to "learn fast and efficiently" and "survive" in the first 3 months of probation?

learning
New answer on Jun 10, 2020
8 Answers
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Anonymous A asked on Jun 09, 2020

Hi everyone, I would appreciate any practical advice. In my previous job, I didn't pass my probation, mainly because I was not getting along with my line manager well and he thinks that I didn't learn "fast enough". After self-reflection, I realized that part of the reason is that I was very afraid of my boss, who is a super strict guy who micromanages employees and always have a poker face (consistent feedback from other colleagues). As a result, my confidence got crashed and I become less sociable and didn't build up allies who could guide me through the nitty gritty of the firms. For example, instead of directly asking people questions about the firm's computer system, I spent huge time on it to try to figure it out myself, and he thought that I was learning too slow. My previous company is very competitive, so people are very protective and not willing to help new joiners.

My question here is - How to survive the probation period and what would be some actionable items to work on as soon as I join my new firm? How to "learn fast" enough so that your manager will think you're on track? I know one key factor is to build allies so that you could find the right people to ask question, which could save a lot of time and effort, but keen to listen to any other thoughts. Thanks!

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Francesco
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Content Creator
replied on Jun 09, 2020
#1 Coach for Sessions (4.500+) | 1.500+ 5-Star Reviews | Proven Success (➡ interviewoffers.com) | Ex BCG | 10Y+ Coaching

Hi there,

first of all, I think you may want to work on a different mindset. You don’t want to “survive” the probation period. You want to thrive and help your boss, your colleagues and the company in general to thrive as well. It doesn’t mean you should have an arrogant behavior. Rather, you develop the confidence you can provide value, even if at the beginning you will have to learn several new things.

I understand it is a challenging mindset considering you did not pass your previous probation, but I am sure that you can switch to it if you want and work accordingly. Few books that can help you with that are the following:

  • The Compound Effect – Darren Hardy
  • Cultivate an Unshakable Character – Jim Rohn
  • The Magic of Thinking Big – David Schwartz

In terms of practical advice, I would recommend the following:

  1. Take notes when your manager tells you something – this will help you to remember details and will show you care about them to the team.
  2. Always double-check. The first impression is very important in consulting: if you show you are reliable from the beginning, you create a reputation of a reliable person. Double checks should be done on expectations for your job, your Excel analysis, your slides – basically everything.
  3. Define priorities before starting any set of tasks. The majority of the results usually come from a subset of activities – this is true also for your tasks in consulting. You have to identify which they are and prioritize them – the application of the so-called 80-20 rule or Pareto Principle. Alignment on priorities and expectations is particularly important with your manager at the beginning of the project.
  4. Socialize with your colleagues and start to build a network. Consulting is a people business and you should build a good network both within and outside the company. A good start is key to develop good relationships long-term
  5. Organize your private life activities. You want to organize your calendar to leave some space for personal activities (sport/ friends/ family). This is not easy but can be managed if you organize well, and long-term will be critical to keep a balance between work and private life. Also, it is better to align with your manager/teammates from the beginning on your core needs, so that there are no surprises later on.
  6. Ask for feedback every two-three weeks – this will show you are proactive and willing to learn.
  7. Ask for help when you don't know what to do – better to let know you are in trouble with meeting a deadline then missing the deadline.
  8. Be social and respectful with the support staff – these people are great and influential as well in the company.

Best,

Francesco

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Anonymous replied on Jun 09, 2020

Hi there,

I don't think there is a need to overthink the situation - what I expect from a new joiner are 3 key things:

  • Ability to listen carefully - understand the tasks, ask your clarifying question early on in the process and avoid having to hear the same feedback multiple times
  • Ability to think for yourself and own your analysis/task - Owning your slides/analysis is critical, this means don't rely that someone else would fill the gaps that you couldn't fill - even if your manager would have to change it, it is best to see that you are putting the effort into learning (example: new joiners sometime focus so much on the graph on the slide and forget to put an action title...)
  • Drive to work hard and deliver - remember, that if you really want this job, then work hard for it. nothing is free. So apply yourself, don't think that the task is too complicated or too boring, just do it and learn from it. Have the right mindset.

I hope this helps

Khaled

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Ian
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Content Creator
replied on Jun 09, 2020
#1 BCG coach | MBB | Tier 2 | Digital, Tech, Platinion | 100% personal success rate (8/8) | 95% candidate success rate

Think about your job as you do a case (hey, they weren't created for nothing)

1) Understand the context/prompt (what role are you in, what company, who's watching, etc.)

2) Understand the objective (what, specifically, is expected from you...both day to day, and in your overall career progression)

3) Quickly process information, and focus on what's important - Take a lot of information and the unknown, find the most logical path, and focus on that.

4) Be comfortable with the unknown, and learn to brainstorm - think/speak like an expert without being one

In summary, there will always be a flood of information, expectations, competition etc. and not enough time. Find out which ones matter when. (i.e. be visibile and focus efforts on the things that people care about)

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Antonello
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replied on Jun 09, 2020
McKinsey | NASA | top 10 FT MBA professor for consulting interviews | 6+ years of coaching

Hi,
maintain high your enthusiasm and your willingness to learn from everybody. In particular, try to carefully observe your most senior and successful peers to understand their way of communicating and presenting their achievements and try yo leverage it. Meanwhile, build solid relationships with colleagues to better understand the company culture, what works and tips&tricks.

Best,
Antonello

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Robert
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Content Creator
replied on Jun 09, 2020
McKinsey offers w/o final round interviews - 100% risk-free - 10+ years MBB coaching experience - Multiple book author

Hi Anonymous,

On top of wht was already said, the single most critical point in consulting is around feedback. This will be intense... very intense.

Take your feedback seriously.

Accept it, if you like it or not.

Keep track of all feedback and tackle your weak spots.

Review and assess yourself regularly.

And: make sure people around you notice your improvements :-)

Hope that helps - if so, please be so kind and give it a thumbs-up with the green upvote button below!

Robert

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Anonymous replied on Jun 10, 2020

Dear A,

First of all, my congratulations to your MBB offer, I wish you best of luck in your career.

For candidates like you, who have already secured the offer with a leading consulting firm, I have designed my program "Get ready for the first 100 days " as well as long-term career planning. This program touches all the important aspects: the mindset, the skills, knowledge, networking and ,managing yourself as well, your bosses and clients - everything that is important in your successful career.

In fact, I'm sharing my knowledge of 6 years career experience in consulting, where I was able to land on the fast track promotion and to be promoted from consultant to a project manager just within 3 years, which is extremely fast.

Happy to share these insights with you, feel free to reach out directly to me.

Good luck,

André

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Clara
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Jun 09, 2020
McKinsey | Awarded professor at Master in Management @ IE | MBA at MIT |+180 students coached | Integrated FIT Guide aut

Hello!

To add on top of what´s been said before:

Something that I found particularly helpful was to have multiple feedback touchpoints.

For sure they´re great to:

  1. See improvement areas
  2. See amazing points about yourself that you were not aware of!

Hope it helps!

Cheers,

Clara

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Anonymous replied on Jun 09, 2020

Hello,

At the b&eginning, you have to look at the others, listen carefully to both trainings and advices from your managers.

You should also try to intercept weak signals as much as possible.

As it is not always simple, plan regular periods of feedback and come out of these sessions with an action plan. At each session, go back from this action plan and explain what you have done to progress and therefore make sure you go in the right direction.

Best, David

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