The First Six Months

By Staci Hegarty, M.Ed., COO

Conventional wisdom encourages people to stick with a new job for at least six months before deciding to move on. While we should be taking care of our employees all the time, this is especially important during the first six months. Since we thought they were good enough to hire, we have a vested interest in their success with the organization. It can cost up to two times of an employee’s annual salary to replace them.

The most obvious time that an employee is being onboarded is during the first few days of employment. If your organization uses intentional onboarding, a new employee should be starting to feel more comfortable with their role and with the organization as a whole. They have likely started to engage with their tasks as well as with their supervisor and colleagues. It may be tempting to assume that all is well and assume the employee will raise their hand and ask for help if the need it. Do not give in to that temptation! A new employee wants to impress their new employer with their proficiency and skill, yet they may not know enough about functioning within the organization to even know what questions to ask.

The First 30 Days
After training is completed, it may seem that the employee knows what they are doing and can be released to do the job for which they were hired. Rather than letting the new employee “go and do”, this should be a time of daily check-ins, perhaps more if needed. This will be a month of Firsts. First time using the CRM tool. First team meeting. First weekly report. First submission of payroll. We don’t let teen drivers take a driver’s education course, take a few turns around a parking lot and then put them on the freeway during rush hour. We sit in the passenger’s seat and offer support and direction as they work their way up from the parking lot to side streets to main streets to the freeway. As experienced drivers, we take a lot of instinct and knowledge for granted and cannot assume that a new driver can assess an ever-changing situation with the same speed and competence we do. Your new employee is trying to take in a lot of information and needs close supervision to ensure that small mistakes don’t become catastrophic.

Use this time for real-time training. The show-then-do method works well for this. Show the employee how to do the task then watch them do it. Most people learn best by watching someone do it then trying it themselves with the guidance of an experienced teacher. This is also the time to set the cadence of the workplace. Anything that is a recurring event, such as staff meetings or reports should be on the employee’s calendar now.

Schedule a formal weekly check-in meeting. This is not a time for the supervisor to do all the talking, this a chance for the new employee to ask questions and clarify tasks, with the opportunity to share how they are feeling about their new workplace. Take some time to get to know the new employee, make sure they are making connections with their colleagues.

The First 60 Days
By now your new employee likely has mastered their basic duties. Now is when the one-offs or unusual situations may come up. To continue with the driving metaphor, they are gaining the confidence to drive on busier roads with less direction, but they are not ready to go it alone. A supervisor may have noticed gaps in training or tasks that the employee struggles with doing on their own. Continue to offer support and training, with constructive feedback on areas that need refinement.

You may need less frequent check-ins, going from daily to perhaps three times a week. Now is the time to bring in other employees who can assist. This not only gives the new employee more training and support, but it allows more tenured employees an opportunity to grow their own skill set in leadership.

Continue with the weekly formal check-in meetings. You will notice a decline in questions about specific tasks and an increase in more culture-related questions. The new employee is probably starting to discover that the way they were trained may not completely line up with the way work is completed in reality. They are starting to learn who the go-to people are, which may not be reflective of the process and procedure manual or the organizational chart.

The First 90 Days
The good news is your new employee is ready to drive on the freeway! The bad news is, they may be overly confident in their skills and start to make new mistakes that weren’t prevalent before. Continue to monitor their work closely and step in when needed. They are probably doing a good job on 75% of their tasks, but they still need positive reinforcement to continue their growth.

This is also the time when employees stop feeling new and start feeling awkward about asking questions about things they think they should already know. They may be proficient at weekly reports but have never done the quarterly report. They may now be able to use PTO and need to understand the process for requestion a sick or vacation day. Keep up the weekly meetings.

You may also start to notice their personality starting to come through. When we are in a new environment we tend to be on our best behavior. If you are noticing habits or traits that are not contributing in a positive way, now is the time to address it. For example, you may start to notice of trend of tardiness. It’s time to get curious and ask about what is going on. You may discover that the employee’s car is in the shop and they are taking the bus now. Perhaps a temporary schedule change would help. No matter the reason for the tardiness, it is good to be clear about expectations.

The Next Three Months
Your new employee should be settling in well now. They may occasionally need more training or direction but should be generally be functioning as expected in their role. The company has now invested a great deal of time, energy, and money in their onboarding. Now it less about tasks and more about culture. You may notice that your no-longer-brand-new employee has found a group of work friends. Depending on who those friends are, you may notice a downturn in their productivity or attitude. The shine of the New Job has worn off. Be mindful that comfort may become complacency. It may be time to pair the employee with a high performer with a positive outlook on the organization to help combat any negativity they may be experiencing. It has been said that we are the average of the five people we spend the most time with. If your goal is an engaged workforce, help your employees find engaged colleagues to encourage them. Your workplace culture and employee turnover may depend on it!

Envision RISE can help your organization formulate a six-month plan to hep newcomers not only learn their new job but to become valued members of the team. Contact us at for more information.

Contact Envision RISE for more information about how we can assist in building and maintaining efficient and ethical hiring practices and processes.

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