The Honeymoon Quiz Five Questions to Ask New Health Care Hires In Their First 90 Days On The Job

You’ve spent months remedying a major staff shortage. After reviewing countless applications, conducting interviews, assessing performance skills, and completing all the other necessary processes, you’ve finally hired the cream of the crop for your department. As a leader, you are very proud that you and your team have been able to attract and hire such superstars. Now, you can breathe a sigh of relief that it’s all behind you.


Not so fast. Attracting the best and the brightest is only part of the equation. Now that you have them, what will you do to keep them? You must hit the ground running by opening up the lines of communication.

More than 25{06cf2b9696b159f874511d23dbc893eb1ac83014175ed30550cfff22781411e5} of employees who leave positions do so in the first 90 days of employment. This first 90-day period is critical. You have to do more than pass these people in the hall and ask how things are going. It’s very important that you schedule several one-on-one meetings during the ‘honeymoon phase,’ to find out what is really on the minds of your new employees. Do this successfully and you can cut your new employee turnover by 66{06cf2b9696b159f874511d23dbc893eb1ac83014175ed30550cfff22781411e5}.

I suggest you schedule these meetings at the 30- and 90-day marks. Somewhere in this timeframe, the honeymoon ends and reality starts to set in. Again, these meetings are more than casual conversations about how things are going. Go in with a structured list designed to discover not only what’s not going well, but also what is going well.

What follows is an outline leaders can use for both 30- and 90-day meetings. Start by letting the new hire know that you are glad she is part of the team. Let her know that you care about her and that you value her input and ideas. Then ask:

• How do we compare to what we said we would be like? When expectations aren’t being met, employees may feel as though you have misrepresented the situation. They may even feel lied to. This question will open a dialogue for clarifying the new hire’s expectation level and will give you a good perspective on whether you are delivering what you promised.
• Tell me what you like. What is going well? In health care, we’re are often trained to focus on what is going wrong. By asking what is going well, you give the new hire a chance to focus on the positive aspects of the job. As a manager, you will gain a unique perspective on what matters to people.
• What employees have been helpful to you in your first 30 days? By asking this question, you can discover which employees are valuable in the retention process and recognize and reward them for helping new hires learn the ropes. Once other employees see that the employees are being rewarded, they too will become involved in the process. Employee turnover affects everyone and everyone should have a stake in tackling the problem.
• I noticed you came to us from _____. Are there things you did there that might be helpful to us? Asking this is a great way to harvest intellectual capital. Current employees may not be good at taking input from new employees, even if the advice is sound. Plus, new hires may be reluctant to offer input for fear of alienating co-workers. By asking the question, you create a win-win situation. You get great new ideas for process improvement, and the new employee feels as though she made a valuable contribution.
• Is there anyone you know who might be a valuable addition to our team? At this point, your new employee is likely still in touch with former co-workers. If he or she is having a good experience with your organization, encourage this individual to let former co-workers know. This is a very effective recruiting measure. One hospital CEO even provides phone cards to new hires specifically for this purpose.

Getting people on board during the first 90 days is critical to their long-term tenure with your organization. These 30- and 90-day meetings, which are designed to ask very specific and relevant questions, really do work to keep more employees.

Not only do the meetings go a long way toward securing long-term relationships with your hard-won new talent, they can also serve as a vehicle for gaining insight into your organization.

By finding out what is working well in some areas of your organization, you can make sure those actions and behaviors are duplicated in others. It is also an opportunity to see your shortcomings, so they can be fixed. These meetings really are a win-win for everyone.

Quint Studer, a former hospital president and 20-year health care veteran, is founder and CEO of Studer Group, a Florida-based executive coaching firm and national learning lab.