Helping Clients Circumvent “Honeymoon Hangover”

By Lori Jazvac.

When clients secure a new role, they’re excited. They report that they love the work environment, their job is interesting and challenging, and the pay and benefits are rewarding. They’re thrilled to be offered perks such as company barbeques and casual Fridays, along with a flexible work schedule. They’re in the honeymoon phase of the new job.

Then, things start to change after the first few weeks.

The excitement begins to taper off as they find that the responsibilities of the role seem to be shifting. The team is becoming increasingly challenging, and each day there is more work to take home, yet the job description does not mention overtime.

For many, the line between perception and reality becomes blurred. When the new job honeymoon period ends and office politics, rigorous deadlines, and clashing personalities become the new reality, the workplace can become a breeding ground for dissatisfaction and stress rather than inspiration and productivity.

In talking with clients about this phenomenon, I have found that the root cause is not always external, but can be attributed to the Honeymoon Hangover Effect, an organizational psychology term.

What is the Honeymoon Hangover Effect?

Wikipedia describes the Honeymoon Hangover Effect as “the relationship between employee job change and job satisfaction.”

“Low satisfaction typically precedes a voluntary job change, with an increase in job satisfaction immediately following a job change (the honeymoon effect), followed by a decline in job satisfaction (the hangover effect).

The Importance of Goal-Setting and Taking Accountability

If the honeymoon hangover appears to be setting in, I champion my clients to reclaim their power and “locus of control” with realistic goal-setting, while fully engaging themselves in the new work environment. This involves recharging energies, taking accountability, positively reframing the situation, and focusing on staying empowered.

The first 90 days are often the most critical for a new employee’s long-term success with the organization because:

  • The employer is observing and assessing the new hire’s learning curve in order to determine the type of training needed.
  • The employer is evaluating whether the new hire is adjusting to the work environment and company culture, and if targets are being achieved.
  • Working relationships, mentors, and networks are being established, and individual and team roles are being clarified.
  • The employer is observing how the new employee works best and determining what measures are needed to drive high performance and results.
  • The employer is assessing the new hire’s skill levels, strengths, values, and expertise, and planning for how they can offer value in other business arenas.

For some, the new job honeymoon period can be a time of embracing exciting new tasks and fresh opportunities, while for others, the tasks can prove daunting, especially if little on-the-job training, orientation, and support is provided. Yet, not all the blame for the the start of the hangover scenario can be laid at the feet of the employer.

Many new hires fail to take personal responsibility for maximizing opportunities for success within the first three months on the job. As a result, the learning curve gets steeper and feelings of being overwhelmed may surface, impacting motivation, performance, team collaboration, and results. This situation can precipitate high levels of absenteeism and stress. It’s often not long before the new hire ponders “quitting” that workplace, only to continue the cycle of job-hopping and feeling disillusioned about his or her career.

Here are seven tactics you can use to empower clients so that they’re equipped to ward off the possibility of a hangover during their first 90 days in a new role:

  1. Support your client in learning all he or she can about the organization and role (products/services, policies, culture, team members, key stakeholders, and the different departments within the company). This involves asking well-timed, relevant questions and logging notes about key personnel and new learnings.
  2. Motivate your client to create a goal-focused 30-60-90-day action plan with the hiring manager. This will involve researching the scope of the role, identifying key stakeholders, learning how the manager’s success is measured, outlining goals and KPIs, identifying resources critical to success, and securing additional data needed to create the plan.
  3. Have your client check in regularly with his or her manager to ensure that the goals and performance indicators documented in the action plan remain relevant and are on track to meet or exceed expectations.
  4. Champion your client to drive continuous improvement and high-performance through formulating answers to the following questions:
    • What is the biggest challenge facing the organization in the next 6 months?
    • How is this role expected to address that challenge?
    • What needs to be accomplished within the first 90 days?
    • What is the biggest problem that needs to be solved in this role?
    • How can personal skills and experience be leveraged to meet or exceed targets?
  1. Advise your client to find a mentor. Ideally, the mentor should be someone who is widely trusted and respected across the organization, has lots of knowledge and insights, and is an influencer.
  2. Remind your client to document accomplishments, milestones, and new skills learned, along with any challenges and areas of concern. Doing so will not only help your client to keep his or her LinkedIn profile and résumé up-to-date, but will be invaluable for performance review discussions, especially if solutions to problems have been proactively formulated by the new hire.
  3. Take the time to celebrate accomplishments and accolades together.

Coach your clients to embrace the first 90 days as a unique and exciting learning experience. Remind them that they’ll only get one honeymoon in the new role so they should strive to capitalize on the opportunity to create a solid foundation from which to launch a successful and happy career with the company.

Lori A. Jazvac is a passionate, award-winning Master Certified Résumé Strategist and Certified Employment Strategist through Career Professionals of Canada. As a multi-certified Master Résumé Writer and Certified Career Transition Coach, she specializes in helping clients navigate challenging career transitions. In 2013, an empowering vision inspired Lori to launch Creative Horizons Communications, a holistic career services firm where she virtually supports jobseekers around the globe to embrace their next career milestone. In her spare time, Lori enjoys dance, blogging, watching comedies and reality shows, yoga, and taking long walks in nature.

Photo by Bruce Mars on Pexels

 

 

Comments

  1. Lori
    This is am excellent piece. Thank you

  2. Thank you, Gayle, for your helpful feedback.

  3. Thanks Lori! Great article! I talk to my clients about the Honeymoon Hangover all the time….in fact I shared that concept with a client this morning before seeing your article! It’s real!
    You have provided some excellent points and reminders of how to start off well and maintain the zing in an employer/employee relationship. Prior to on-boarding with a new company, I believe that a pre-emptive step to avoiding Honeymoon Hangover is to ensure that the job is a good fit in the first place. There are a lot of similarities to dating or finding a mate! I’ve had clients who were excited about a job prospect, usually because it’s new, different and novel, but when we’ve looked at whether it was actually a good sustainable match with their talents, interests and values, they’ve come to a realization that it wasn’t a good fit after-all. They were blinded by the novelty and realized that they were emotionally drawn to the prospect of something new and exciting, even when it didn’t make logical sense…not unsimilar to dating!
    So it’s important to help our clients assess whether it’s a good fit BEFORE they start the work relationship. That helps to put things on the right track before the journey even begins; then, as you point out, it’s critical to on-board well and continue working on the relationship in order to keep it on-track and avoid that Honeymoon Hangover!
    Thanks again for a great article and some practical steps to maintaining job satisfaction!

  4. Kevin,

    Thank you! I appreciate your constructive feedback. 🙂 This is a common concern among clients/jobseekers.

    It’s amazing how the ‘Honeymoon Hangover’ affects many professionals soon upon starting a new role. After some time, the option of quitting / giving up or looking for a “better role” may seem like a better option rather than remaining empowered, patient, being proactive, and maintaining momentum to stick to the plan.

    I agree that if the job and organizational culture prove to be a good fit beforehand, then the transition to a new role may seem smoother. Often, it’s about thinking purposefully, but also creatively, leveraging adaptability and resilience, working on building relationships, and giving oneself time to adjust. Everyone adjusts to new work environments differently. What is also key is balancing expectations and goals and seeing the positives – reframing one’s perspective.

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