Breaking Through the 90 Day Dip

You’ve signed the offer letter, successfully resigned, had a small vacation and are raring to go on your first day at your new company. Your motivation is sky high and you can’t wait to execute your perfect plan for success.

Once the HR onboarding is complete it’s time to get to know your new team and better understand your mission.

You hear all about the new products due for release, ongoing projects and potential of the business… and then you also hear that one of the key members on your team quit two days before you joined, another is about to leave, your newly assigned customers are complaining… and all of sudden the scale of your mission begins to dawn on you.

Enter the 90 day dip – those first three months in the company where your motivation and excitement can go from sky-high and possibly as low as rock bottom.

Having worked with over 200 Tech Startups, I know that the majority of professionals we introduce to our clients will be taking on positions with immense levels of responsibility and their performance will have a huge impact on their employer’s success.

Such a role offers great excitement and the opportunity to truly prove oneself and feel a real sense of achievement. And it is truly is, however, many people enter a startup in the wrong mindset and don’t mentally prepare themselves for the reality that lies ahead.

Hence, in the first three months, many people struggle mentally to get a handle of the situation and often just struggle through, or worse, give up.

After realising the difficulty of your mission in the company, it can be very easy to lose motivation and the trap often fallen into is to seek out colleagues with whom to vent your frustrations. This will inevitably lead to a further drop in motivation – most often people seek out colleagues who also appear negative and unmotivated which ends up just exacerbating the problem further.

Should you give up within one year, you know this period will be a huge blemish on your resume. No matter how you spin it to future recruiters and potential employers, you know it will look bad.

So how can you avoid, or at the very least, handle the 90 day dip?

From the very beginning have it in your mind that no matter how bad the situation, there is almost always a solution – often just having the right mindset can offset most of the potential negativity experienced in the first 3 months. Lay out several goals that you want to achieve in your new company that you stick to no matter what. Not allowing yourself to even entertain the idea of moving to a new company until you have achieved these goals will ensure this position in your career will be a success and help force you through even the toughest hurdles. Lay out your concerns to your boss frankly – schedule a chat with your manager and speak openly with them about the difficulties you foresee. Most of the time the problem is in fact much smaller than you first feel – speaking with someone who oversees a wider scope of the business helps put your concerns into perspective and often your boss will have a valid explanation/solution to the issue you face. Seek out highly motivated colleagues and high performers – rather than sharing your concerns with other unmotivated colleagues, actively associate with colleagues you can see are enjoying their work and being successful. Your motivated colleagues will be able to reassure you about your mission ahead, explain why they have been successful and can even share their own experiences that allowed them to get through the same difficulties you are facing.

Above all else, understand that experiencing lower motivation in the first 90 days is completely normal – understand it will happen, rationalise the situation and work with others to identify the best solution. You’ll begin to realise the problems are smaller than first feared and after the 90 days you’ll notice your motivation begins to pick up again and you can refocus on achieving the goals you originally set out.

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