This week, we conducted several first month check-ins with candidates and hiring managers we matched.  These included employees regularly working directly with the person who hired them, as well as those working in a remote location away from the hiring manager. All of them had experienced some level of disconnect between the expectations their hiring managers had set for them by the thirty-day mark.  The new employees all commented they loved their jobs and the companies with which they were placed, and did not realize they were not meeting expectations during their ramp-up time.

Further examining and then addressing the situations, we found out the disconnect arose with inconsistencies between what the hiring manager said versus what the newly-hired employees heard or interpreted.

The first ninety days of employment is referred to as the “Honeymoon Period”.  Google comments; Honeymoons are particularly good for working-class families, because you can never tell when you may have such a time together again, and in marriage, couples often grow together until someday they are emotionally at a loss without the other person. This is truly “uniting as one”.  There’s something special when you hear of an elderly couple passing away within twenty-four hours of one another because they were so close as to share a heartbeat.

Workplace ‘intimacy’ mirrors similarities to matrimony. 

It is a mix of expectations, communication and designated time together, which, although much like a romantic relationship, is obviously not usually life-lasting.  Irrespective of whether it is a temporary job, contract job for a project, or career placement with an undefined ending, the employment still requires clear expectations, open and effective communication, and time together to get acquainted.

As a supervisor, taking time to document and clearly discuss performance expectations as to what makes the new employee successful at 30 days, 60 days, 90 days, six months and one year will provide you with a measurement tool.  We have provided a sample below for a project manager role.

Mapping out expectations also gives you a discussion piece beyond the job description for the interview process and for daily, weekly and monthly reviews during the honeymoon period.

In addition to the performance expectations, it is important to establish clear communication with respect to how you envision the new employee accomplishing the agreed-upon role and tasks.  In the first thirty days, an expectation may be to assemble a bid package.  The new employee may receive one or two bids per trade when you are expecting a minimum of three. You may think that everyone knows you need three bids per trade, yet the new employee may have been at a company that thought three were too many and were fine with two.   You will see them as failing to meet your expectations, but they have no clue why. Be clear with your expectations and do not assume they know. Likewise, the employee needs to ask sufficient questions, so they clearly understand the expectations of the employer.

Encouraging comments without clear meaning can also be taken by the employee as confirming that they are meeting your expectations.  Direct comments such as, “I like your thought process on the approach to getting the right dewatering company for the project”, instead of saying things such as, “I like how you think” can make a big difference.  If this is the same person not meeting your expectations on sub-coverage for bids, you are misleading them by saying you like their thought process in general.  After all, you liked it at the moment, but felt it might not carry through.

Both employers and new employees need open dialogue often, even on some of the simplest things, to ensure the mutual admiration for one another does not subside, but rather grows with time. It might sound elementary, but in a romantic relationship most couples even discuss their preference of minor things, such as where the mail is placed so the other can see it when they get home.  They also discuss each other’s expectations on time together, spending, family and more. When mutual expectations are not met in a romantic or work relationship, typically intervention needs to take place before it’s too late.  A forthcoming honeymoon helps build the pathway to get things back on track should they start to fluctuate future.

Workplace intimacy – the art of getting acquainted and familiar with one another.

Are your expectations aligning with your supervisor?

Employees, make sure to ask.  Employers, make sure to tell. You both own it.

“Sometimes the simplest things mean the most.”

Suzanne Breistol

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