The Vulnerable 6-Week Mark

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When is a good time to “check-in” with new hires? It’s a question I often get asked when organizations are designing their Onboarding processes.

Having the luxury of being able to witness the week-by-week progress of the senior leaders that I work with during their Onboarding, I find that a check-in at the end of the first week is very important for the initial “hygiene factors” that can really turn-off a new hire if not in-place (computer access, security passes, phone training, business cards, etc.)

If you are only going to do one mid-term and then a 90-day check-in I would encourage you to consider the 6-week mark. This is when new hires are often their most vulnerable.

The first month seems to be the honeymoon. Lots of adrenalin going on. Lots of meetings with new people lined-up on the calendar for the first month. What happens in many organizations is that they forget to turn the page to the next month’s calendar. Onboarding activity should be diligently scheduled through the first 3 months and even beyond for more senior levels.

At about the 6-week mark, cognitive dissonance seems to set-in. Some doubts start to emerge. The warts of the new company, new boss and new colleagues start to show. AND fatigue takes the place of adrenalin.

It may seem an odd analogy but if any of you have recently had a baby or can recall the early days, you might remember that the first few weeks with the baby seemed pretty good. The baby slept. Lots of visitors came and paid attention to you as new parents. There were gifts and flowers.

Seems like somewhere around the 6th week, the demons emerge. The new parents aren’t sleeping. The baby starts being more wakeful and cries a lot. It’s not as novel anymore.  I know many friends who found this a particularly trying time.  I can certainly attest to looking askance at the mere suggestion of having a second child around this point when I hardly felt like I was coping with the first one.  (I have two wonderful young adult children today….we do get through and out the other side of the six-week overwhelm).

So, a long-winded way of saying that I notice that my Onboarding clients seem to be at one of their most tired and vulnerable points at about week 6. This is also the time when friends from their old job start calling to ask how it’s going. The friends let their former colleague have the first month to settle into their new job and then they start booking lunch dates. This is when you really want to ‘show the love” as a new employer.

Show them that you recognize that not everything may be rosy right now and the organization is interested in supporting them through the adjustment. Show your new hires that your company has a plan for their longer-term development and there is much positivity to anticipate.

Better still…show them you are truly invested in their well-being and hire a coach to support their success ?

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