It’s universally acknowledged that the first 90 days at any company can be intimidating. This isn’t any one person or program’s fault, either. There’s a lot for your new team members to learn—including using different tools, navigating team norms, and adjusting their own expectations. But when you provide new hires with guidance and expectations, you empower them to hit the ground running from day one.
A 30-60-90 day plan is a new hire’s guide through the onboarding process. This action plan helps your team members set achievable goals and check off essential items as they acclimate to their new role. In this piece, we’ll outline the key components of a 30-60-90 day plan and explain why having one is beneficial.
A 30-60-90 day plan outlines the first 90 days of a team member’s new job and familiarizes them with company policies, team work, and learning goals. After reading the 30-60-90 day plan, a new hire should understand their expected milestones and deliverables for the first 90 days, as well as long-term SMART goals.
The benchmarks might look like this:
1–30 days: The first 30 days involve intensive training for the job role. This is when the new hire is learning as much as possible about company policies, team structure, and job responsibilities.
31–60 days: The next 30 days of employment are the new hire’s opportunity to put what they’ve learned into action by taking on new tasks. This is a key learning period, but there is also room for error and growth during this time.
61–90 days: The third month of employment is when the new hire has begun mastering the skills of their job which means they can begin achieving the SMART goals outlined in their 30-60-90 day plan. By this point, your new hire should be able to meet the expectations you’ve set.
The purpose of a 30-60-90 day plan is to ensure every new hire feels welcomed into the company and understands the responsibilities of their role. A 30-60-90 day plan may have similar parts for all new hires, such as company policies and resources, but many parts of the plan are unique based on each individual’s role and responsibilities.Free employee onboarding template
Your new hire’s focus in the first 90 days should be to integrate into company culture and master their job description. While there’s time during this initial period for new hires to help with tasks outside of onboarding, your new team members’ initial objectives should revolve around basic acclimation.
Some accomplishments you may ask your new hire to achieve in their first 90 days include:
Learn the company’s mission
Know the organizational structure, including management roles and fellow team members
Understand the responsibilities outlined in the job description
Understand the project roadmap from start to finish
You should hold a performance review at the end of a new hire’s first 90 days to assess their progress. During this time, you can offer constructive feedback about what they’ve accomplished and how they can continue to improve in their role.
Typically, you’ll write a 30-60-90 day plan before your new hire onboards or immediately after they begin their job. As a result, you probably don’t know a lot about your new hire’s personality or strengths. Instead of making your 30-60-90 day plan personal to the team member’s abilities, use your expectations for what you want them to become in their new role to customize each plan.
Once you’ve hired someone new, start your 30-60-90 day plan by looking at the big picture and assessing how your new hire fits into that picture. Ask yourself any questions that come to mind about the job role, the onboarding process, and the team. Some questions to begin brainstorming include:
What need do you hope for this person to fill?
What specific problem are you bringing this person in to solve?
What should this person know in order to be successful?
What will the new hire’s daily responsibilities be?
How will the new hire take part in project development?
Ultimately, your 30-60-90 day plan will give your new hire a clear idea of what the first three months will look like. Answering these questions early sets them up for success and helps them build their skills for the role.
Your 30-60-90 day plan isn’t a day-to-day list of activities your new hire will be working on. Rather, your goal is to give your new hire an overview of their purpose within the company.
You should also keep in mind when you create your 30-60-90 day plan that a new team member can only do and learn so much in their first few months of employment. While you may have some dire needs to address, try not to throw too much on your new hire’s plate too fast.
Consider what a reasonable workload should be and minimize that workload for at least the first 30 days. Expect there to be a learning curve. Then, if you find that the team member catches up quickly, you can add work to their plate as appropriate.Read: Collaboration in the workplace: 11 ways to boost your team’s performance
According to a 2014 study by BambooHR, the average company loses one-sixth of their new hires each month for the first three months. Giving your new hire SMART goals right when they join the team can increase retention by giving team members a measurable goal to work toward.
The specific goal you set for your new hire will depend on their particular role and level within the company. Check out some example 90-day SMART goals for different employee positions:
Writer: Successfully publish three articles for one of our clients, which includes taking each article through the entire publishing process from QA to internal edits, client edits, and final edits.
Customer support: Work with team members to close 30 tickets, which includes learning the internal computer system and solving an array of unexpected tech issues.
Agency: Collaborate with stakeholders to write one promotional piece. Then promote the piece to bloggers and successfully get it published on at least three websites relevant to the client.
While the new hire’s first 90 days should focus on helping them get comfortable in their new role, adding measurable goals to their action plan can give them a project to work on so they don’t feel like their only purpose is to shadow others.Try project management software
A 30-60-90 day plan isn’t a document you’ll hand over to your new hire and then simply send them on their way to complete their duties. This document should be a reference for your new hire while they collaborate with you and other team members to accomplish tasks.
When writing your plan, assign the new hire a mentor to give your new hire any advice or guidance they might need. This person will be their go-to guide during the first few weeks for any questions. A good mentor can help orient your new hire so they don’t feel so overwhelmed by their new work environment.
Make sure to set your new hire up with a mentor who isn’t their manager. That way, they have someone they can turn to with questions about team synergy and team norms. As their manager, you can focus on providing bigger picture guidance about long-term goals and team collaboration best practices.
An important thing to remember when creating a 30-60-90 day plan is to stay flexible. Even if you feel like your plan outlines exactly what you hope for your new hire to accomplish, there’s no guarantee that the first 90 days will go as expected.
For example, another team may need help from your new hire a week into their employment, which can derail the SMART goals you initially set for them. It’s also possible that your new hire will learn at a slower or faster pace than you expected. When you understand that the plan is an outline and not a schedule, you’ll feel better about the work you’ve put into it.
The contents of a 30-60-90 day plan are unique to the team member joining your organization, but the framework of the plan should look similar. The essential components of a 30-60-90 day plan include:
Company mission: Briefly state your company’s mission at the top of the 30-60-90 day plan to give your new hire an idea of what your company stands for.
Guiding points: Guiding points may include information about your company culture and elaborate on your business’ core values. For example, these points may include things like: “Ask questions… Value relationships… Have a team mindset… Put your health first…”
Meet the team: In this section, include pictures and blurbs of the people your new hire will work with closely. This can be a good reference for the new hire as they try to learn names and team roles.
First day overview: The first day overview is the only section of the 30-60-90 day plan that lists out a detailed schedule for the new hire. While this schedule may change, do your best to let your new hire know what to expect on this first day, including log-in information or how to set up their email and phone voicemail. That way, they don’t come in feeling lost and unsure about what to do or where to go.
Top priorities: In the top priorities section of the plan, include an overview of the new hire’s job responsibilities and any needs you hope for them to fill in their new role.
SMART goals: As mentioned above, the SMART goals you list in the 30-60-90 day plan should be measurable, job-related goals you hope the new hire will achieve within their first 90 days.
Resources: In the resources section, list links to the company handbook, job description, team directory, and other relevant resources. You can add any resources to this section that you think the team member will find useful as they familiarize themselves with the company and the job.
Use this 30-60-90 day outline as a framework to build and customize a plan that works for each new hire that you onboard.
If you’re working in person, it may make sense to print out your 30-60-90 day plan and hand it to your new hire on their first day of work. But if you’re onboarding someone remotely, you’ll need to share your 30-60-90 day plan online. An efficient way to do this is through project management software. Once you share the plan, you can use the software to track and monitor the team member’s progress.
Project management software also allows you to streamline the onboarding process with day-to-day action items. That way, once your new hire finishes their first 90 days of employment, they can seamlessly transition into an active team role. To set your new team member up for success, check out our free employee onboarding template.Free employee onboarding template