HR manager with a calendar for How To Write A 30 60 90 Day Plan For Your Org’s Onboarding

How To Write A 30 60 90 Day Plan For Your Org’s Onboarding

When it comes to onboarding new employees, having a 30 60 90 day plan is one of the best ideas your organization can do for an employee’s new job to get them started off on the right foot and hit the ground running. 

Studies show that organizations with a strong onboarding process improve new hire retention by 82% and productivity by over 70%.

There are many ways that you can improve your onboarding to help ease in new hires and show them they made the right choice in joining your organization. Of these ways, making use of the 30 60 90 day plan is one that has one of the best ROIs.

We will look at the following:

  1. What Is A 30 60 90 Day Plan?
  2. A Metaphor For Thinking About Your 30 60 90 Day Plans
  3. The First 30 Days
  4. The 30-60 Day Range
  5. The 60-90 Day Range
  6. Beyond 90 Days
  7. Summary & Next Steps

1. What Is A 30 60 90 Day Plan?

A 30 60 90 Day plan is an action plan to show new employees what is expected of them and what to prioritize in their new job for the first 90 days. 

The First 30 Days

The focus on the first 30 days is all about learning. These first 30 days are the most hands-on and intensive. This portion of the 90-day plan will have the most overlap for new hires, regardless of role, department, or seniority.

The 30-60 Day Range

For the 30-60 day range of the 90-day plan, new employees still have the training wheels on, but you are more hands-off than before. New hires will get more involved in projects and focus on their roles and responsibilities. This portion of the 90-day plan starts to diverge depending on the role, department, and seniority. 

The 60-90 Day Range

 For this portion of the 90-day plan, the training wheels have come off, and new employees have a lot of leeway and independence of how they want to go about tackling their role and the responsibilities with it. This portion of the 90-day plan really depends on the role, and the individual themselves.

30 60 90 day plan infographic with text explaining each stage
Here’s what to consider at each stage in the 30 60 90 day plan.

Having a 90-day plan will help employees understand where they are going and will help ease them into your organization, as opposed to throwing them in the ocean with no life jacket on. This plan will have specific measurable metrics, learning goals, performance goals, personal goals, and timelines.

“A leader cannot lead until he knows where he is going”

-John Locke (the character from LOST, not the English philosopher)

gif of John Locke

By giving new hires a template of what is expected of them, they’ll be able to see the big picture and where they fit into your organization that much faster, and will do wonders for getting them off on the right foot and for your retention.

When it comes to these 90 days, it’s best practice to split them into 30-day chunks, with a different theme and focus for each, which we will get to shortly.

2. An Analogy For Thinking About Your 30 60 90 Day Plans

When it comes to 30 60 90 day plans, you should have a template that fits every new employee. You’ll have people starting their new job in junior roles, perhaps their first job out of university. They may be coming in at a VP level. They may be starting a new role as a software engineer, a marketer, in finance, or joining the sales team. They may be a people person or an introvert.  

In that case, having a one-size-fits all approach for a 30 60 90 day plan isn’t going to work.

That, you don’t want to be drawing up a fresh 90 plan every single time. Sure, if you’re a small organization that hires a handful of people a year you could get away with this, but what if you’re hiring by the hundreds of thousands? 

The best way to do so is to think of your 30 60 90 day plan like a food menu.  

food menu
Think of your 30 60 90 day plan like a menu (Source: Pexels).

Let’s start with the main course. This is what is going to be included in all 30 60 90 day plans, regardless of department or seniority. This is information everyone should know when starting their new job. This can include the following:

  • Values of the organization
  • Goals of the organization
  • History of the organization
  • Get an understanding of the technology and tools your organization uses.

Now, we can get more specific. 

Using our food menu analogy, these are the side dishes. For someone in a marketing role, they will have specific side dishes. They’ll have metrics and goals that differ from someone starting a new role in software development. From this, you can create various templates depending on the department or seniority level. 

Finally, we get down to the individual level.

 Everyone has different experiences, different outlooks, different personalities. You want to work with them in coming up with some adjustments to their 90-day plan that fits them best. 

How can you do this? One of the best ways to do so is to make use of the entry interview. With this entry interview, you can gain a much better understanding of their strengths and weaknesses, their personality, and adjust the 90-day plan as needed to fit their strengths. 

While there is overlap in between the type of interview questions that you’d ask between the entry interview and the job interview, the type of questions and answers you’re looking for will be different than the interview process itself. This interview can be conducted by a hiring manager, their new manager, or both. 

Through the entry interview, you can have their plan on hand to make adjustments as needed to ensure they get the best 90 plan possible. 

Now that we have that out of the way, let’s dig into these 30-day intervals of the 30 60 90 day plan.

3. The First 30 Days

Let us now take a look at what should be included in the roadmap of the first 30 days of a new hire’s role. 

For these first 30 days, you want to emphasize the fact that new hires are essentially going to be sponges and will be learning at a rapid rate. This is the period in which you’ll be most hands-on with the new hire to get them adjusted to your organization. 

Going back to the food analogy from the previous section, the first 30 days is going to have the most overlap for new hires in what gets covered, regardless of seniority or department. As a result, this portion will be easiest in regards to creating a template that works. Here are some things that you will want new hires to cover in those first 30 days:

  • Gain an understanding of your company culture
  • Gain an understanding of the roles and the responsibilities that are expected of them
  • Gain an understanding of the technology, software, and tools that your organization uses
  • Gain an understanding of your company’s products, and gain an understanding of your customers
  • Gain an understanding of the stakeholders for the organization
  • Gain an understanding of the current projects that the organization is focusing on, and what they will be focusing on in their role
  • Have weekly meetings with their manager
  • Get to know their team members, and who to go to for certain expertise
  • If your organization makes use of a buddy system, and you should, have them meet with their buddy.
  • Draw up and set smart goals, metrics, KPIs, and milestones that are achievable. 

As you probably have noticed from the list above, this stage is all about learning. To emphasize, learning doesn’t stop after the 30-day mark (this will always be ongoing), but this is the stage of the 90-day plan that focuses most on them being a sponge and getting up to speed. 

Remember that this stage in the 90-day plan will see a lot of overlap amongst all new hires.

employee with a magnifying glass and a calendar for how to write a 30 60 90 day plan
Planning out the first month.

4. The 30-60 Day Range

Now that new hires have crossed the 30-day threshold, it’s time for them to dip their feet further in the water. While learning will still always continue, new hires will now have an understanding of the basics and can now delve deeper into their role. 

The roles and responsibilities that new hires go over when they started? They can now begin to make progress on this front. 

The knowledge that they gained from their time in the first 30-days will now be ramped up and put into action. 

The KPIs, set goals, and milestones that you set in the previous 30-days? They’ll start making headway on them. 

This is the part of the 30 60 90 day plan where each plan begins to diverge depending on the department, individual, or seniority level. 

One thing to emphasize at this stage is to get some small, quick wins for new hires to gain momentum as they continue forward. This is the point where new hires can get more involved in projects, start to speak up more with their ideas and thoughts.  

employee on a bicycle for how to write a 30 60 90 day plan
Let’s make things start to happen in this stage of the 90 day plan.

5. The 60-90 Day Range

This is the stage of the 90-day plan where the training wheels begin to come off, or where the new hire now submerges themselves in the pool. 

With the KPIs, specific goals, and milestones that were created in the first 30 days, they continue to make headway in them and take a greater level of independence. 

As this timeframe has a much greater emphasis on independence, this section of the 90-day plan can be much more open-ended and will depend on the individual themselves, compared to the first 30 days which were far more structured. 

At this stage of the 90-day plan, new hires will be working on projects with less supervision, be more involved with their teams and the organization as a whole, and follow up with their managers to ensure that they are hitting their metrics. At this point, team members can begin to go to these new hires for their expertise. Maybe they make a new team altogether for a project they’re working on. 

To be clear, mistakes being made here are still fine. They are still new to the organization, and they still have many things to learn about the organization. This will come in time. That said, there needs to be a higher level of accountability compared to earlier in the 90-day plan, which will only continue to grow as time goes on.

employees with to-do lists for how to write a 30 60 90 day plan
At this stage in the 90-day plan, new hires are heavily involved with their team and skillset.

6. Beyond 90 Days

So what happens when you get past the 90-day mark? Does everything just drop off and employees are left to their own devices? 

I’ve had this happen before to me. The onboarding experience at that organization was fantastic, but after that 90-day mark, everything on the onboarding side more or less dropped off.

Granted, the sheer fact that you’re willing to create a 90-day plan will put your employee onboarding experience miles ahead of most other organizations. Most organizations don’t even do onboarding beyond the first week.

Studies show that around 72% of new employees will have settled into their new role within 3 months, with 22% by 9 months, and the rest around 10-12 months.

The more that you’re able to provide to new employees when starting, the better they will do. 

One of the best things that your organization can implement after the 90 day period is the stay interview. The stay interview is interviewing employees about what has been working well, and where improvements can be made. 

The stay interview is an excellent way to improve your 90-day plan template. It’s a great time to ask questions about how well the plan was laid out, and how it was executed, and where it can be improved. It’s up to you if you want to have the hiring manager conduct these interviews or the new employee’s manager.

When it comes to improving your 90-day plan, consider the rule of 5. The rule of 5 states that when getting insight into research or testing, five users tend to be enough in order to identify patterns and determine what does and doesn’t work. 

So for your 90-day plan, if you’re getting patterns already emerging after simply asking five users, you’re going to more or less get the same information if you test more than 5. If no patterns are emerging within five users, then you can test more. 

For example, in your stay interviews if you’ve heard that KPIs and goals needed to be more clear in the 90-day plan over and over, it’s a good idea to hone in on that and find ways to improve it.

two HR professionals conducting an interview for how to write a 30 60 90 day plan
The stay interview is a great time to ask questions about how well the plan was laid out, how it was executed, and where it can be improved (Image Source).

7. Summary and Next Steps

We’ve taken a look at the value of the 30 60 90 day plan, what each portion consists of, and what to do after the 90 day period. So what are the next steps that you can do? 

If you don’t have a 90-day plan template in place, start taking steps in drafting one together. This is a large effort, and be sure to have a hiring manager on hand. Remember that the first 30 days is the portion that is going to require the most structure as it will cover aspects that every new hire will go through. The 60 and 90-day ranges can be tuned to focus more on department, seniority, and the individual. 

Currently, have 90-day plans? Begin to implement stay interviews if you haven’t done so to gain feedback on the 90-day plan and see where you can improve upon it.

If you’re looking for further reading, consider checking out the book The First 90 Days: Proven Strategies for Getting Up to Speed Faster and Smarter.

Leave a comment below of your thoughts on the 90 day plan! 

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