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Hit the ground running with this ultimate 30-60-90 day plan

June 17, 2022 - 24 min read

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What is a 30-60-90 day plan?

6 benefits of a 30-60-90 day plan

When to use a 30-60-90 day plan

What to include in a 30-60-90 day plan

30-60-90 day plan template for managers

9 tips for creating a 30-60-90 day plan

"The more I help out, the more successful I become. But I measure success in what it has done for the people around me. That is the real accolade."

Adam Grant, organizational psychologist and BetterUp Science Board Advisor 

When it comes to setting your people up for success, a little help goes a long way. How are you setting up your workforce to reach its full potential

Well, if you ask any leader, a lot of it comes down to helping your employees think strategically from the start. It’s beyond finishing a project, solving a problem, or completing the menial, day-to-day tasks.

Of course, the day-to-day duties help to get work done. But it’s also helping your employees connect their day-to-day to the larger purpose of work. Why does that purpose matter? How does their work connect to the organization’s goals, mission, or purpose? 

When I first started at BetterUp, my manager shared a fully fleshed-out spreadsheet and Google document as part of my 30-60-90 day plan. In these resources, there were targets to hit, milestones to reach, and tasks to complete. 

But more importantly than the line items was the sentiment: the strategy behind the 30-60-90 day plan helped to set me up for success. It was that extra mile to help out a new hire that allowed me to onboard successfully to my new role. And it was the help I needed to see the larger vision of how my work connected to organizational success, even if I didn’t fully know it yet. 

When we think about helping others around us be successful, having a plan is critical. In fact, 69% of employees are more likely to stay with a company for three years if they had a good onboarding experience.

Having a roadmap for the first three months can help your employees acclimate to the company culture. It'll also help them ramp up to the role and meaningfully connect with others — and ultimately lead to better performance.  

Sure, the plan might change. After all, we’re in a rapidly changing world where plans are often etched in pencil instead of stamped in pen. But if you’re hiring new employees or onboarding teammates, it’s important to give your workforce a sense of where you want to see them go. 

In this post, we’ll walk through what makes a good 30-60-90 day plan. We’ll also talk about the benefits of a good plan — and even give a template example to help you help your employees. 

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What is a 30-60-90 day plan?

First, let’s understand what defines a 30-60-90 day plan. The 30-60-90 plan is a key part of a robust onboarding process. And in remote and hybrid work environments, the onboarding process is more important than ever. It’s critical that in these early days of onboarding, you’re building culture and connection with your new employees. 

When a new employee joins your organization, there’s likely a stage of information overload. In the onboarding process, the employee absorbs a lot of information. They might be networking and setting up coffee chats with other employees. They’re probably in a good chunk of training sessions and other sorts of new hire workshops. 

Depending on how your organization runs the onboarding process, your employees are likely trying to ramp up in their new roles. At the same time, they're also soaking in everything they can about the organization. All while your employees are acclimating to the new role, they’re also making connections. Or, at least, they should be.

In short: it’s a lot. It can feel overwhelming to retain all the information a new hire receives. Sometimes, it can lead to confusion or misalignment on overall goals. 

But with a 30-60-90 day plan, you’re able to clearly outline the expectations you have for your employee. As a manager, it’s a useful resource and tool to help keep the onboarding process on track. It can also serve as an accountability tool, one where you can ensure your employees are meeting your expectations. 

Let’s talk more about what benefits come with a clearly outlined 30-60-90 day plan. 

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6 benefits of a 30-60-90 day plan

There are plenty of benefits to a 30-60-90 day plan, for both the employer and the employee. Here are six of our favorite benefits to consider. 

  • It helps optimize productivity 
  • It sets clear expectations 
  • It helps with goal setting 
  • It can help alleviate the new job jitters 
  • It empowers employees to self-manage their work 
  • It serves as a reminder of priorities 

It helps optimize productivity 

Ashley Ballard, social media manager, BetterUp, shared why a 30-60-90 day helped their productivity in the first three months of work. 

“I'm someone who benefits from an itemized list of expectations so that I’m not hindering my productivity by feeling anxious about my work product. It also keeps everyone on the same page about the meaning behind your role and how you will directly support team goals.”

Ashley Ballard, social media manager  

As you’ll notice in some of these benefits of a 30-60-90 day plan, there’s a lot of overlap in what makes an employee productive. For Ashley, it’s clear expectations, alignment on the role, and clear communication about the priorities at hand. One could argue that all the benefits of a 30-60-90 day plan can contribute to overall increased productivity

It sets clear expectations 

It doesn’t get much clearer than getting a document of expectations in written form. At BetterUp, our 30-60-90 day plans come with a “checkbox” field to notch once you’ve completed the task at hand. 

Clear expectations can be hard to set, especially at the nebulous start of someone’s employment in a new role. But with a 30-60-90 day plan, you’re able to clearly outline your expectations as a manager. 

It helps with goal setting 

On my 30-60-90 day plan, I had a list of more administrative or mundane tasks. For example, I needed to upload my information into our HR management system. I needed to review the necessary policies and documents. I needed to set my email signature with the appropriate information. 

But it also outlined higher-level objectives. As a marketer and writer, I needed to learn the BetterUp voice, tone, and perspective. My manager clearly outlined blogs and resources that I could read, practice assignments that I could take on, and even some videos to watch. In fact, one of my goals was to write a blog within 30 days. 

Many of the new hire checklist items served as foundational tasks to get to me my goal. And by providing me with all the information at once, I could more easily connect the dots to the “why” behind some of the work I was receiving, too. 

It can help alleviate the new job jitters 

Have you ever started a new job and not really know what you’re supposed to do with yourself? 

In my last job, I attended a half-day new hire orientation. I still remember going back to my desk upstairs, meeting my new manager, sitting down, and logging into my computer. I played around with my systems and got myself set up on my laptop. But after about an hour, I found myself spinning my chair around to my new boss and asking if I could help with anything. 

Frankly, I had no idea what I was supposed to be doing with myself. I felt that instant anxiety of not contributing anything meaningful, even though it was just my first day. 

There’s a lot of inherent pressure, stress, and anxiety that comes with starting a new job. New job anxiety is totally normal. It happens to all of us.

No matter how great we felt through the hiring process, on top of the world with our offer letter, as the new kid you can feel at loose ends pretty quickly. You waste time in self-doubt or doing unimportant tasks to look busy and loose confidence and momentum. But one way to help alleviate the jitters your employees are feeling is by giving them a plan. 

Ashley Strahm, content marketing manager, BetterUp, shared why she finds having set milestones in place can help reduce anxiety

“I’ve come to experience onboarding as a time where folks are the most hungry, curious, enthusiastic, and eager to please. Having a plan with milestones from the outset means that none of the initial emotions that come with starting a new job overwhelm or cause scattered or inefficient outreach — and anxiety about performance." 

Ashley Strahm, content marketing manager

Without a 30-60-90 day plan, you couldn’t possibly have made the connections or digested the right resources to help quell those productivity nerves. And without it, you risk a big loss. Those early days are when new hires have the freshest eyes. It’s the best and most optimal opportunity to ask your new hires to observe and provide feedback. 

It empowers employees to self-manage their work 

I’ve never heard of a manager that wants to hold their employees’ hands through every project. Sure, there are micromanagers who like to stay close to their employees’ work. 

But at BetterUp, we’re big believers in giving employees autonomy to self-manage their work. We talk about this in the context of some of our high-impact behaviors: extreme ownership, bias toward action, craftspersonship, and work to learn. 

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Managers also need their time to focus on high-impact work and priorities. So when it comes to onboarding a new employee, it’s not plausible to walk your new hire through everything they need to know. And if you were to do so, it certainly wouldn't set them up for success. 

A 30-60-90 day plan empowers your employees to self-manage their work. By leveraging a 30-60-90 day plan as part of your onboarding strategy, you’re giving your employees autonomy to build their own schedules. It helps give them the roadmap but how they get to the final destination is up to them. 

It serves as a reminder of priorities 

Hand-in-hand with self-management comes managing priorities. We all know that work is busy. As your employees become more acclimated to the role, it’s likely their workload is gradually increasing. 

But with a 30-60-90 day plan, your employees are reminded of their priorities. And it’s on your employees to manage their priorities effectively, which is a good life and work muscle to flex. 

When to use a 30-60-90 day plan

So, you might be wondering when to use a 30-60-90 day plan. When is it most effective? What situations will it have the most impact? Let’s dig in. 

30-60-90 day plan for an interview 

Job seekers, this is for you. If you want to knock the socks off a potential employer, consider putting together a 30-60-90 day plan for your interview. Even if it’s just an informational interview, you can show how you’d approach your first 90 days on the job. 

For example, let’s say you’re interviewing for a sales position. From the job description and from your informational interview, you know what markets you’ll be focused on. You also know about some target accounts and have a good sense of the industry.

While you might not know exactly what you are going to be doing, you have a good idea. You’ve worked in software sales for a while, enough to know how to approach breaking into a new market. 

So, you decide to come up with a proposed 30-60-90 day plan. You put together a rough sketch in a Google sheet about what you would focus on in your new role

30-60-90 day plan for a new job

More commonly, 30-60-90 day plans are used in the onboarding process. This is useful for both hiring managers and employees. For example, at BetterUp, I received my 30-60-90 day plan on my first day of employment. It helped to set expectations about what I would be focused on for the next three months. 

But some companies also use 30-60-90 day plans for things like performance reviews or even lateral moves within the organization. You can also use 30-60-90 day plans for project-based initiatives. 

What to include in a 30-60-90 day plan

First, it’s important to understand that 30-60-90 day plans should be personalized based on the employee. For example, a new employee in an entry-level position will probably have a radically different plan than that of a new executive. 

And 30-60-90 day plans for managers are going to look different than plans for individual contributors. There are nuances to these sorts of plans because of job responsibilities, work goals, expectations, and experience. 

But generally speaking, we can outline four key components of a 30-60-90 day plan. 

  • Expectations and concrete goals 
  • Go-to resources and information 
  • New hire checklist or to-do list  
  • Company mission, culture, the purpose of work  

Expectations and concrete goals 

Every 30-60-90 day plan should have clear expectations and concrete goals. As a manager, it’s important to clearly communicate the expectations you have for your employees. For example, my manager has created a couple of documents that very clearly outline the expectations of her employees. 

Oftentimes, expectations serve as the foundation for your working relationships. As part of my 30-60-90 day plan, my manager also asked about my expectations. In a lot of ways, it’s a two-way street.

I filled out a document that outlined my preferred working style, my communication style, and how I  resolve conflict. It helped both parties to essentially get a good sense of how the other works. 

Along the same vein of expectations are goals. My manager expressed some clear goals that she wanted me to reach within my first 90 days. But I also had the opportunity to think about my own personal goals and what I wanted to accomplish.

Together, we iterated on the plan to come up with an action plan. Some of these goals can ladder up to other big milestones that you’d like to have your employees reach along the way. 

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Go-to resources and information 

The world of work is a complex one. Especially in today’s day and age, there’s a lot of information that’s probably changing rapidly. 

For example, is your workforce hybrid or remote? What sort of COVID-19 guidelines are in place? How do you submit your expense reports or ask for time off? What systems does your organization use for benefits? What employee resource groups or culture programs does your organization have? 

A 30-60-90 day plan is a good one-stop-shop for all the resources your new hire will need. It’s a great reference and resources with a wealth of information (and can help your employee become more self-sufficient, too). 

New hire checklist or to-do list 

When an employee joins a company, there are a lot of “tasks” that need to be done. For example, I needed to enroll in my benefits and 401K. I needed to upload my personal contact information into our human resources management system. I needed to upload my Slack photo and put my preferred pronouns on my email signature and Slack profile. 

A 30-60-90 day plan is a great place for all of the one-off tasks that every new hire needs to complete. It also helps keep your employees on track with all the administrative and HR tasks needed within the first couple of months of employment. 

Company mission, culture, and purpose of work 

Last but certainly not least, your employees need to understand the purpose of work. This likely won’t “click” fully in the first 30 (or even 90) days. But it’s important to start drawing connections between their work and the company’s vision early on. 

In a recent Forbes article, Great Place to Work® released new data around employee retention. One of the top drivers? Purpose. In fact, employees at top-rated workplaces in the US reported that if they feel their work has a purpose, their intent to stay at said companies triples.

Don’t dismiss the role that purpose plays in your organization. At BetterUp, we’re on a mission to help everyone everywhere live with greater purpose, clarity, and passion. This can only happen if employees understand their purpose and the role of their work in the company’s mission. 

30-60-90 day plan template for managers

We’ve created a free draft 30-60-90 day plan template to use for managers. Access the draft template and start using it today. 

Download the 30-60-90 day template

30-60-90 day plan for interviews

As mentioned earlier, there are some situations where an employee may prepare a 30-60-90 day plan as part of an interview. Or, perhaps as part of your company’s hiring process, you ask job applicants to put together their plans. 

With these elements, you’ll be sure the candidate is ready to hit the ground running. Here are some key components you should look for in a job applicant’s 30-60-90 day plan: 

  • Short-term goals (generally achievable, time-bound goals)
  • Long-term goals (that are also measurable goals)   
  • Establishing metrics for success 
  • Outlined priorities (especially for the first week) 
  • Learning new processes 
  • Meeting the new team and team members 
  • Any learning goals (or professional development goals

9 tips for creating a 30-60-90 day plan

Of course, your 30-60-90 day play is going to be catered to each individual. We’re all human with different responsibilities needed. Keep these nine tips in mind as you put together your 30-60-90 day plans. 

  1. Set SMART goals 
  2. Consider what you want your employee to prioritize 
  3. Encourage professional development 
  4. Encourage reflection time 
  5. Outline goals into months: first month, second month, third month 
  6. Ask for input from your employees and direct reports 
  7. Promote ongoing learning about the company culture and purpose 
  8. Adjust (and readjust) as needed 
  9. Follow-up on the progress 

You can always work with a coach to help outline what might be needed in your 30-60-90 day plan. A coach will have a wealth of experience in the field and an objective, third-party perspective. With guidance from BetterUp, you can ensure you’re setting up your people for success.

connection-crisis-download-the-report

Published June 17, 2022

Madeline Miles

Madeline is a writer, communicator, and storyteller who is passionate about using words to help drive positive change. She holds a bachelor's in English Creative Writing and Communication Studies and lives in Denver, Colorado. In her spare time, she's usually somewhere outside (preferably in the mountains) — and enjoys poetry and fiction.

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