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After the “Honeymoon”

March 3, 2020
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For many years, I’ve heard business colleagues reference “the honeymoon” with regard to their initial days with their new employers.  This period of time is the period of time when everything is great-everyone’s happy, the sun is shining, you can do no wrong, everyone loves you and is glad that you’re there.

Shortly after this initial period of bliss, reality strikes.  And, in the minds of many, reality is tough.  Some would assert that reality bears little, if any, resemblance to the honeymoon period-kind of like being on the French Riviera one day and returning to the coal mines of West Virginia on the next.  Not fun.

I believe, however, that there are a few things that potential honeymooners can do to manage what could be a painful transition.  Some of these actions include:

1.      Recognizing that the “honeymoon” and “reality” are two different periods.  They exist for different purposes and should not be equated with each other.  The period known as the “honeymoon” is designed to be a period of joyful bliss, but (unless you’re stinking rich) cannot realistically last forever.  At some point, one must leave the honeymoon.

2.    Communicating prior to the honeymoon about what may be important after the honeymoon.  Anyone who has gone through a honeymoon knows that it doesn’t last forever.  The difficulty lies in the fact that little conversation has occurred about life after the honeymoon.  How will we work together?  How will we solve problems?  What if we can’t agree?  What if we don’t at all resemble the people we professed to be, pre-honeymoon?  Having these conversations before the honeymoon will make the dialogue after the honeymoon far easier.

3.      Holding on to the aspirations that created the connection. Companies, as well as individuals, have aspirations that create connections.  The company wants to accomplish a given goal.  Individuals, whether personally or professionally, also want to accomplish goals.  Assuming these goals are communicated clearly prior to the “hook-up” should make it relatively easy to return to these aspirations when times become challenging.  All-too-often, challenges and difficulties cause individuals to toss out the aspirations rather than considering how these aspirations can be managed within the context of the new challenges.

4.      Creating moments for reassessment after the honeymoon.  Asking the question, “How’s it going?” or “Is this working out in the way that you had hoped?” are useful questions to reopen the hopes and intentions that may have suffered as a result of post-honeymoon realities.  Having these conversations regularly and openly, rather than allowing the conversations to be internal dialogue only should provide a space within which the aspirations for the connection can be reviewed, reassessed and, potentially, renewed.

No, the honeymoon doesn’t last forever.  But it can last far longer than the limited initial period allowed for it.  Like all good experiences, it has to be maintained.  Honeymoons are not magical; what is potentially magical is the way in which the goals, commitments, and energy of the honeymoon is shared, committed, and managed on an ongoing basis.

In my next blog, I’ll explore a professional “honeymoon” that lasted for a great period of time.  It has become a model for the way that I think about professional honeymoons and may hold insights for you.

Best wishes for a long and successful honeymoon.