Introducing your culture through psychologically safe probationary periods.
This is the final part of a three-part article series that sees D’Neale Prosser questioning the probationary process and the psychological safety that it lacks.
The probationary period is a new employee’s first impression and taste of your company culture. Throughout this period a connection is formed through the actions and behaviours of those given the responsibility to onboard and caretake your new employee. Raising your awareness of the importance of building psychologically safe probationary periods increases the effectiveness and impact of your onboarding experience.
Our brains are wired to be highly aware and in tune with our environment, and especially the other human beings we share it with. Within the first few moments of meeting someone we decide to trust – our bodies release the neurochemical oxytocin which is associated with social bonding. It’s with recognising this key point that we can shape psychologically safe probationary periods. Probationary periods built from the pillars of acceptance, belonging, and reassurance.
Your culture is felt firstly through trust, trust builds culture and allows the person to fully immerse themselves in the environment safely without the distraction of concern or worry. Being able to build an environment of psychological safety – trust is crucial to create a solid foundation of your company culture. The way you treat your new employees through their probationary period is where your culture can be felt the most.
When the social bonding chemical is released, it continues to build the more we interact with a person. If we know that trust and social bonding builds through the quality of interaction, this is how we can build psychological safety for our new employees. The everyday interactions and behaviors that your new employee comes across within their onboarding matters. These daily interactions form what you know as your culture. Now that we know the impact each interaction is having on a new employee in their probationary period, it is an exciting opportunity to transform the human connection in our onboarding programs. The beginning of someone’s employment is your chance to consciously introduce your organisation’s culture, and as a result increase psychological safety leaving your new employee feeling they are a ‘fit’.
Trust is the thing that binds us together, that determines our connection and builds our culture. To build trust, to build culture, to build psychological safety you need to ask questions, listen, and show acceptance, belonging, and reassurance.
Commit to building trust through your onboarding process. Be a custodian of your culture by building psychological safety and simply eliminate any red flags or concerns that may make your new employee feel like they are on ‘standby’ – waiting as you, their leader, confirm they are safe by passing their probationary period. Be the leader who questions why we need a probationary period if we hire right.
Read Part 1 of the series: The importance of building psychologically safe probationary periods – Part 1
Read Part 2 of the series: How to build a psychologically safe probationary periods that improve the onboarding experience – Part 2
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