Learn the importance and process of creating a 30-60-90 day plan for onboarding new employees to success, with practical strategies and templates for setting clear, achievable goals.
The earliest days of a new employee's tenure, when potential meets process and assumptions from interviews are put to the test, are among the most critical for managers. This is, arguably, when managerial impact is at its highest, when fresh hires need a guiding light through the storm that joining a new company can be. It's a key moment to establish the foundational knowledge and process necessary for success in their new role.
A clear and thorough plan of action can make the difference between your organization's newest superstar and a failure to launch during the first 90 days on the job. 30-60-90 day plans help managers and reports alike set expectations, get aligned, and stay focused on measurable goals. They act as roadmaps for new hires' onboarding period, and are a valuable tool for managers to guide reports through the formative stages of their roles.
These plans are divided into three distinct phases: the first 30 days, dedicated to orientation and understanding; the subsequent 30 days, which shift focus to application and engagement, and the final 30 days, aimed at mastery and optimization.
30-60-90 day plans are about setting clear pathways for your direct reports' journey at your organization. The initial 30 days typically center around learning and absorbing, allowing new hires to familiarize themselves with your product or service, observe team dynamics, and start to understand your company culture. This foundation ensures that they have some grasp of the existing expectations and available resources before they begin to contribute in earnest. Indeed's 30-60-90, for example, sets the simple goals of cultivating two positive personal relationships with coworkers and attending one lunch-and-learn in the first 30 days.
At the 60-day mark, the emphasis shifts towards role-specific knowledge. This involves new hires completing more hands-on tasks, joining ongoing projects, and establishing connections with other teams within your organization. During this phase, managers should identify any additional training or expertise needed to consider new hires fully ramped.
By the third month, the 30-60-90 plan typically assumes that new hires can function with more independence, and that they are becoming more active contributors to the team's projects and goals. To ensure that this progression feels seamless, it's critical that the plan includes specific, measurable, and achievable milestones at each stage. Regular check-ins and feedback sessions are essential to help reports understand how they're progressing and to allow managers to adjust if needed.
A well-crafted 30-60-90 day plan ensures that newcomers adapt to their new environment rapidly, allowing them to integrate seamlessly into existing projects and become a valued, contributing member of the team more quickly. It thus facilitates efficient project management and role adaptation, setting everyone involved up for success.
It also helps to establish a foundation of transparency and trust between reports and managers. By communicating openly about progress towards goals, anticipating challenges, and proactively setting a course of action, 30-60-90 day plans reduce the potential for misunderstanding. With increased clarity and alignment, reports can feel safer in taking risks and pushing themselves to reach ambitious goals even during these early days.
Collaborating on these plans can also encourage introspection on the part of your direct reports. By working with you to map out strategies and goals, reports can identify potential challenges or roadblocks based on their own skillsets. They can then more proactively identify the resources they might need, ensuring a smoother process for both you and them down the road.
Set clear goals. What are the primary results you hope to see in each phase? In the first 30 days, this could be simply learning about your product, culture, and tools. Clearbit's 30-60-90 template aims in phase 1 to simply "meet everyone, gain context, figure out how to find answers for different foundational questions and then find them." By 60 days, you might aim for your report to have a project under their belt, albeit a smaller one. By 90 days, though, at least starting on bigger, longer-term projects should be feasible.
Break tasks down. Once you've established broader objectives, make sure to break them down into tangible tasks. Any goal should be SMART — specific, measurable, actionable, relevant, and time-bound. This granular approach will ensure you don't miss any crucial steps and give your report a clear direction so they always know what's coming next. Starting with the smallest tasks first will help set your report up for some easy wins.
Collaborate. A 30-60-90 plan is a two-way street, and its purpose serves both you and your direct report. Although the initial plan will be drafted by you, its progress and ultimate conclusion are a collective effort by you and your report. Ask them what they want to achieve and work with them on how they will do it. The landscape of a job or project can change rapidly, so it's essential to jointly review and adjust your plan together.
Celebrate wins. As you reach the end of each phase, take some time to reflect on what what your report has achieved and what needs re-evaluation. Celebrate their successes with them, taking care to ensure that they feel valued even for these early-days contributions. Talk through any challenges in order to be able to move confidently into the next phase.
Got a new hire starting but don't know where to start yourself? Check out our collection of 30-60-90 day plan templates to kick off your drafting process.
Clearbit's template includes a "goal," "learn," and "do" section for each stage of the plan. The "do" sections are drawn from a list at the bottom called "'Do' list by strengths," which references the Zone of Genius, or the types of tasks that someone excels at due to natural ability rather than learned skill.
Indeed's, by comparison, is more specific, offering a clear and simple 90-day plan for a salesperson's onboarding, complete with both goals and actions broken down into categories of learning, performance, and personal. By 90 days, new sales hires should have made an independent sale and be able lead a sales meeting with colleagues.
Ready to draft a 30-60-90 plan for your newest hire? Click the Use template button to migrate it into your Slab account so you can make it your own!