How long is the honeymoon period at a new job, anyway? It’s never been clear to me. Some people say its a couple weeks. Today someone suggested a month. My view is that its a little more subjective, and really ends when you either 1) screw up on something, at which point you’re given a pass, but that’s your last freebie — the scoreboard starts running at that point, or 2) deliver something, such as your first major document or your first presentation to someone other than your friend on the team.
Here’s the problem with the honeymoon period — and with the whole concept of first impressions in the workplace: are you really going to see the best of someone in that first month? Yes, yes, there’s all that about finding that person who can dig in and try hard and get some short-term wins yada yada yada. No, I expect a new person to come on board looking to shine and to try their best. But look beyond that. Someone who comes on board, pushing the envelope and trying something new, bucking the status quo — are they less likely to make a good first impression, even though, long-term, they are probably a great fit for the organization?
Granted, sometimes companies make a hiring mistake. But if your practice is to hire the very best people you can find, shouldn’t you give that person the benefit of the doubt, and let them make some mistakes? Didn’t you hire that person, not to come in and be mediocre, but to change things up?
The lip service to this is the 90-day review. Try them out, throw them back if they make people too uncomfortable. The more difficult task is to hire the right people, and then figure out what steps are necessary to ensure their success. Call it the "extended honeymoon."
(originally posted on my other blog on 040706)