To ask or not to ask?
August 21, 2014 4:53 AM   Subscribe

I am in month 5 of a 6 months probationary period in my new job. Six months probation is standard in any new job in my country. If everything is going smoothly is it assumed that I am staying?

I have moved across states for this job and to be on the safe side, I signed my apartment lease for 6 months only due to probation period and wanting to be 100%. Now that time is nearly up. I want to be more settled and sign a longer lease and bring more of my stuff over. But what if I don't make it past probation?

I think that I am doing well. I only get positive feedback. However, this is also the most back stabbing and two faced enviroment that I have ever been in. I am progressing and being increasingly involved in more long term projects and have even started one of my own. They always talk to me as if they see me there in long term future. While I do have low confidence and some insecurity issues, I am also not sure of much around here. The ground keeps shifting in the term of team dynamics constantly.

They are also always late with any paperwork so one of my collegues only got a singed 6 months probationary pass 8 months in. I was thinking of asking one of my bosses if I am staying past 6 months. Except...the question almost seems crazy due to long term plans. Also I am not keen to advertise my low confidence. Plus, even if I get a verbal yes, they may change their mind and it's not sure until the paperwork gets signed.

I need some advice. Would you ask or will I only instill seeds of doubt in their minds by merely asking?
posted by sabina_r to Human Relations (11 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
When I had a job overseas, we had mandatory two-week vacations every three months. I made it a point, a few days beforehand, to go into my boss's office, close the door behind me, and say, "Do you want me to come back after this vacation?" They (I had three different bosses in two years) were always kind of surprised that I would think I wasn't wanted back, but it always led to a good conversation about what I was doing right and what I should be doing differently.

So, yeah, go into your boss (or whomever)'s office, close the door behind you, and say, "Do you want me to come back after my probationary period is done?"

I assure you, if your boss wanted you gone, you'd already be gone. You won't be planting seeds of doubt, you'll be reminding them that you're pretty awesome and that they want to keep you around rather than get some other doofus and lose five months of experience.
posted by Etrigan at 5:03 AM on August 21, 2014 [3 favorites]

I would ask not in a "Um, am I good? can I stay?" type way but in a stronger "When should I be able to hear about the status of my probation and the likelihood of being signed on permanently?"

... but I would also think long and hard if I wanted to work long term in a place that you describe as "the most back stabbing and two faced environment that I have ever been in".
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 5:04 AM on August 21, 2014 [10 favorites]

I would be inclined to ask. It's perfectly reasonable for you to want some official word on whether you'll still have a job here in a month—it affects your finances, whether you continue settling into this apartment or prepare to move elsewhere, whether you need to gear up to find another job, your whole life.

I would ask not in a "Um, am I good? can I stay?" type way but in a stronger "When should I be able to hear about the status of my probation and the likelihood of being signed on permanently?"

This. You may be insecure, but this question doesn't have to come from a place of insecurity. It's a totally legitimate question, and not something you should have to guess at.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 5:07 AM on August 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

I would ask, but I would also phrase it slightly differently than just "are you keeping me?" I've tended to find a time before the end of the probationary period to talk with my boss, framing it as more of "I know the probationary period is ending soon, I'm really enjoying my work here, and I'd like to get some feedback from you on how you think things are going and where you might see room for improvement as I move forward here. Personally, I think [x great thing I did] is going really well, but I feel like it would be useful for me to [get y training/take on z responsibility]."

Assume you are staying and talk as if you are staying, but the way they respond will tell you a lot about whether they share that assumption. And if you are in fact staying, you will have good feedback, areas to work on, and you will have planted the seed that you are proactive, concerned about your performance, and looking for ways to improve. You will also have a good opening to then slip into the conversation, "Hey, what are the logistics around the end of the probationary period?"
posted by Stacey at 5:09 AM on August 21, 2014 [9 favorites]

Response by poster: What about emailing the question? Maybe it it will give my boss more time to think. My boss is kind of too nice (not one of the two faced back stabbers I mentioned) and may just say yes and be caught of guard?
posted by sabina_r at 6:57 AM on August 21, 2014

E-mailing will allow them to equivocate and dissemble. Also, since it's in writing, they may be very conscious of giving you the "corporate approved" answer, which I imagine is a non-answer, as it's not time for you to know yet.

In person, they'd have less time to compose a non-answer, you get the benefit of seeing their gut reaction, and they may also feel able to speak freely.
posted by spaltavian at 7:03 AM on August 21, 2014 [4 favorites]

When I've done this, I've emailed ahead of a regularly scheduled meeting to say "Hey, just to give you a heads-up, I'd like to talk about this when we meet next time." Gives them a little bit of time to put a real and helpful answer together. Does risk losing the gut reaction, though, so you probably need to make that decision based on the personalities and workplace dynamics involved.
posted by Stacey at 7:45 AM on August 21, 2014 [3 favorites]

I agree with everyone else. You can use email to set up a meeting or give your boss a heads up, but you should have this conversation in person. In this conversation, you should explain that you enjoy working there and you would like some feedback and to set expectations for beyond the probationary period.

This isn't going to make you seem insecure or childish. It will make you seem mature and confident.
posted by J. Wilson at 9:13 AM on August 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

Email your boss and tell him you'd like to check-in to discuss your probationary period ending when he has time to sit down. Then in the meeting, tell him you've really enjoyed working there, blah blah, and you feel you're doing well with x, but you would like some feedback on your performance and how you can improve. At some point, perhaps later in the discussion you can ask if there's anything paperwork-wise you need to do as the probationary period ends. If you are not staying, they will tell you in this conversation.

I would think they should be reaching out with you to discuss your probationary period ending anyway. But being proactive about it is good and puts you in the drivers seat.

I would not email asking about your performance or your status. That is a conversation.
posted by AppleTurnover at 12:31 PM on August 21, 2014

I assure you, if your boss wanted you gone, you'd already be gone.

Not necessarily. For example, many Australian public service entry programs have a six month probation. Somebody might be terrible from day one. However, getting them out before the six months is up (or even initiating a performance management program) is a lot of work. In contrast, saying 'Hey, we're at a formal review point now, and thanks, but no thanks, good luck' is effortless; often, somebody in HR will have the discussion for you.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 7:29 PM on August 21, 2014

Response by poster: Had a brief conversation today as it was a convinient moment. Basically, I was told that they were "very happy" with how I was doing, that I need minimal supervision, that I not only got on the top of the work but also took initiative with starting a new project and got involved into voluntary activities. I even asked if there is anything I can do to improve my performance and was told just to watch that I don't "burn out".

While I am still officially waiting for 6 months sign off, I am reassured.
posted by sabina_r at 5:48 AM on August 22, 2014 [4 favorites]

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