With all the joy and excitement of landing a new job, you can feel just as much fear and anxiety. The same can go for the hiring manager.
Overcoming a new role’s learning curve and the desire to make a lasting impression on your employer can put a lot of pressure on you. What if you can’t adapt in time?
Fortunately, there’s a way to organize and prioritize your time and tasks, helping you seamlessly adapt to your new environment. It’s called a 30-60-90 day plan. And following it enables you to soak in as much information as possible, master your core job responsibilities, and sets you up to make a lasting impact on your new team.
Think of a 30-60-90 day plan as a new employee’s North Star, keeping your sights set in the right direction and guiding you toward success. But before we show you how to write this plan, let’s go over what exactly it is and how it’ll enhance your performance during your (or your employee’s) first three months on the job.
In this post, we’ll cover everything you need to know about 30-60-90 day plans whether you’re writing one for yourself or a new hire on the team.
A 30-60-90 day plan lays out a clear course of action for a new employee during the first 30, 60, and 90 days of their new job. By setting concrete goals and a vision for one’s abilities at each stage of the plan, you can make the transition into a new organization smooth and empowering.
There are two situations where you’d write a 30-60-90 day plan: during the final stages of an interview process and during the first week of the job itself. Here’s how each type can be executed:
Some hiring managers ask candidates to think about and explain their potential 30-60-90 day plan as a new hire. They want to see if they can organize their time, prioritize the tasks they’d likely take on, and strategize an approach to the job description.
For a new hire, a well thought-out 30-60-90 day plan is a great way to help the hiring manager visualize you in the role and differentiate yourself from all other candidates.
Of course, it can be difficult to outline your goals for yourself before you accept a new job. So, how are you supposed to know what those goals are? Start with the job description. Normally, open job listings have separate sections for a job’s responsibilities and a job’s qualifications. Work to find commonalities in these two sections, and how you might turn them into goals for yourself staggered over the course of three months.
For example, if a job requires three years of experience in Google Analytics, and the responsibilities include tracking the company’s website performance every month, use these points to develop an action plan explaining how you’ll learn the company’s key performance metrics (first 30 days), strengthen the company’s performance in these metrics (next 30 days), and then lead the team toward a better Google Analytics strategy (last 30 days).
The second situation where you’d write a 30-60-90 day plan is during the first week of a new job. If you’re the hiring manager, this plan will allow you to learn how the new employee operates, address any of their concerns or preconceived notions about the role, and ultimately help them succeed.
If you’re starting a new job, and are not asked to craft a 30-60-90 day plan during the first week of that job, it’s still a good idea to write one for yourself. A new job can feel like a completely foreign environment during the first few months, and having a plan in place can make it feel more like home.
Even though 90 days is the standard grace period for new employees to learn the ropes, it’s also the best time to make a great first impression.
While there’s no set length for a 30-60-90 day plan, it should include information about onboarding and training, set goals that you’re expected to hit by the end of each phase, and all the people to meet and resources to review in support of those goals. This can result in a document that’s 3-8 pages long, depending on formatting.
The purpose of your plan is to help you transition into your new role, but it should also be a catalyst for your career development. Instead of just guiding you over your job’s learning curve, the goals outlined in your plan should push you to perform up to your potential and raise your bar for success at its every stage.
Almost all 30-60-90 day plans consist of a learning phase, a contributing phase, and a leading phase — which we’ll go over in the example plan below. This includes plans that are designed to guide people in new management roles. What sets apart a manager’s plan from any other is their obligation to their direct reports and the decisions they’re trusted to make for the business.
If you’re accepting (or hiring for) a new manager role, consider any of the following goals and how to roll them out at a pace that sets you up for success.
Everyone is learning the ropes in their first month at a company. For managers, much of that learning happens by talking to the team.
If you’re a new manager, grab some time with your direct reports and get to know their roles. What do they like about them? What are their biggest pain points?
Making your team happy is a hard goal to measure, but it’s an important responsibility to take on as a manager. Your first step is to figure out how you’ll manage and coach your employees through their day-to-day work.
Managers often have access to (and control over) the budget for their department’s investments — things like software, office supplies, and new hires. After you spend the first couple of months learning what the team spends its money on, consider using the final 30 days of your plan to make suggestions for new investments or how to reallocate money where you think it needs to be.
Is there a tool that can automate a task that’s taking your team forever to do manually? Draft a financial strategy that includes this tool in the following quarter’s budget.
Even though you’re new to the company, you were hired for a reason: You’ve got skills. And you can bring these skills to the people you work with, particularly those people who report to you.
After meeting with and learning about your new colleagues, you might use the second month of your on-boarding plan to find skill gaps on your team that you can help fill.
Do you have expert-level experience with HubSpot, and your new company just started using HubSpot Marketing Hub? Teach them how to do something in the platform they didn’t know before.
You won’t be expected to promote people in the first three months of your new job, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have learned enough about your team to decide who’s good at what and how to coach them to where they want to be.
In the final 30 days of your 30-60-90 day plan, you might agree to a goal to develop a training strategy that outlines how to manage your direct reports, and ultimately how to guide them into new roles in the future.
Executives are a little different from managers in that there’s higher performance expectations coming in. As an executive, you’ll need to be highly engaged with the organization from the first day and implement high-impact changes in your role as soon as you can. At the same time, context is important, and you’ll need to understand the culture, team, current operating processes, and challenges before you solve for them.
Here are some critical steps to include in your 30-60-90 day plan in an executive role.
There’s no point in taking action without context, so start your ramp-up period by gathering information and charting the lay of the land. That means reviewing existing documentation, attending as many meetings as you can, meeting with direct reports and skip levels, and ask a lot of questions.
In the first 30 days, you’ll be meeting new people and understanding their roles in the organization. Ultimately, your job as an executive is to set the vision for the organization while removing roadblocks for your team as they strategize and execute on it.
One of the best questions you can ask as you familiarize yourself and align with your team is, “In your opinion, what are some existing threats to our business (external or internal)?”
This shows that you care about their opinion and trust their expertise while getting unique perspectives from multiple vantage points in the organization. Plus, if you start hearing some of the same points from multiple team members, you’ll be able to identify the biggest pains, equipping you to make the highest impact changes.
When you are interviewing or shortly after you’re hired, you’ll get a feel for the types of pains that the executive team has and the objectives in mind for bringing you on.
Once you have more context about how the organization works, you can take this vision and translate it into concrete, measurable goals that will take your department to the next level.
An A player is a member of your team that goes above and beyond what’s expected in their role. While not every employee will be an A player, you’ll want to ensure that critical roles and teams have at least one A player to lead, inspire, and strengthen camaraderie.
From there, you can figure out the existing gaps in staffing and training, whether it’s team members who need a lot of guidance and must be coached up to performance or empty roles that need to be filled altogether.
Companies of all sizes run into operational issues as they implement processes that are efficient and work at scale. Sometimes, when an executive team isn’t aligned with middle management, processes can become unwieldy.
Learn why things are done the way they are and then figure out if there are workarounds you can implement to streamline operations. Perhaps it’s as simple as eliminating bottlenecks or adding automation to certain functions.
You know your A and B players, and you hopefully have a plan to retain, invest in, and mentor them. However, you’ll likely come across gaps that you need to fill and positions that need to be created to eliminate bottlenecks. From there, you’ll want to create a hiring plan to execute, both for short-term, middle-term, and long-term needs.
Speaking of bottlenecks, your final 30 days of your plan should be focusing on the areas of the business that can achieve the results the fastest. Once you’ve identified these, you can focus on removing these roadblocks to start hitting goals and achieving higher performance.
As a member of the executive team, you’ll also be looped in one high-level company initiatives, and the other executives of the company will be relying on you to contribute your deep discipline expertise and experience.
Be ready to lean in on executive meetings and contribute to the vision and strategy of the organization as it moves forward.
No matter what the level of the job for which a company is hiring, improving an employee’s skills requires concrete performance goals, so watch out for vagueness in the objectives you set for yourself.
“Write a better blog post,” or “get better at brainstorming” are terrific ambitions, but they don’t give you a way to measure your progress in them. Set goals that are realistic, quantifiable, and focused. You’ll know exactly how to achieve them and gauge your success.
To write challenging yet feasible performance goals, ask yourself the following questions:
Try to understand the purpose behind your team’s goals. It’ll give you more insight into why you and your team should achieve them, motivating you to work as hard as possible to meet those goals.
By connecting your personal responsibilities to your team’s goals, you’ll know exactly how to align your tasks with the needs of the team, which keeps you accountable and compels you to help your team achieve their goals.
Tracking your progress helps you gauge your performance and rate of improvement. To see how you’re doing, set up weekly meetings with your manager to ask her what she thinks of your work and track the improvement of your own performance metrics, like the growth of your blog posts’ average views or the amount of qualified leads your eBooks generate.
Reaching your performance goals isn’t the only path toward future success in your new role, though. You also need to study the ins and outs of your team and company, take initiative, and develop relationships with coworkers — all things that a lot of new hires underestimate the importance of.
Consider setting the following types of goals during each stage of your 30-60-90 day plan:
Aiming to achieve these types of goals will help you hit the ground running in all the right areas of your job. And if you stick to your plan, you’ll notice you’ll be able to spend less time learning and more time executing.
Behold, your 30-60-90 day plan template. Click the image below to download your own copy.
So, how might you fill in the lines shown in the template above? Here’s an example:
Many new hires are eager to impress, so they dive head-first into their work or try to make suggestions about their team’s process with limited experience in how their new team operates. But have patience.
Understanding your company’s vision and your team’s existing strategy is crucial for producing high-quality work and actually making an impact. If you don’t know the purpose behind your role or the optimal way to perform, you’ll risk missing the mark and your early efforts won’t pay off the way you expect them to.
It’s always better to over-prepare than under-prepare. And it’s okay to take time to learn the ropes — it pays huge dividends in the long run. In the first 30 days of your employment, your priority is to be a sponge and soak in as much information as possible. Once you do that, you can then try to improve more specific parts of your team’s work style.
By the end of your first 60 days, you should ramp up your workload, start overachieving, and make a name for yourself on your team.
To do this, start speaking up more at meetings. Don’t be afraid to share your ideas about improving your team’s processes. This shows you’re quickly conquering the learning curve and recognizing some flaws that your colleagues might’ve overlooked. You still have a fresh perspective on the company, so your insight is invaluable.
By the end of your first three months, you should have a firm grasp of your role, feel confident about your abilities, and be on the cusp of making a breakthrough contribution to your team. Instead of reacting to problems that pop up at random, be proactive and spearhead a new initiative for your team.
You should also be cognizant of how you can collaborate with other teams to improve your own team’s processes. By taking on some new projects outside of your main role, you’ll start turning some heads and catch the attention of the department at large.
Learning the nuances of your new role in less than three months won’t be easy. But crafting a strong 30-60-90 day plan is your best bet for accelerating your development and adapting to your new work environment as quickly as possible.
Editor’s note: This post was originally published in April 2019 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.