The 30-60-90 Day Plan: Creating a Path for Success in Your First 90 Days

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As you start your new job, the feeling of excitement and optimism can oftentimes be clouded by fear, pressure, and uncertainty in your new role. New hires may feel a need to jump into their roles immediately in order to make an impact and a good impression on their employers. Rather than motivating them though, this rushed goal causes more harm than good, overwhelming new hires who aren’t properly set up for success. 

Creating an individualized plan for yourself with specific and measurable goals is an effective way of managing your expectations to both not overwhelm yourself, and also create a clear path to defined success. This can be done through a 30-60-90 day plan. Essentially an outline of goals for the first 90 days of employment. We will be further discussing what exactly a 30-60-90 day plan is, how to structure your own plan, why they are beneficial, and a few tips to make your plan most effective. 

What is a 30-60-90 Day Plan?

Before we dive into specifics, it should be noted that a 30-60-90 day plan can be used in two different contexts: in the later stages of an interview, and as a tool for a new hire. In an interview, a hiring manager might ask a question such as, “What would your first 30, 60, or 90 days look like in this role?” to understand the candidate’s thought process going into the job and if they understand the role and what it would require of them. However, today we will solely be talking about the 30-60-90 day plan in the context of a new hire.

That being said, a 30-60-90 day plan is a document that is used to strategize your intentions for the first three months- or the first 30,60, and 90 days- of your new job. It’s natural to want to dive in headfirst when starting fresh, but you can end up losing a sense of direction or spread yourself too thin. Having a solid plan allows you to understand your priorities at your own pace. A 30-60-90 day plan clearly establishes the goals you want to achieve in the first three months and helps you integrate more smoothly into your new role. By creating a plan with both a measurable goal and metrics to measure that goal, you can narrow your focus on your top priorities for that period. If done successfully, creating a 30-60-90 day plan will not only help you personally, but also make a positive impression on your employers who can see your practical, organizational, and goal-oriented skills.

Each 30 day period has different goals based on the priorities you have as a new hire and the priorities your organization holds. The first 30 days generally focus on learning and understanding, the next 30 days focus more on practical tasks and increasing your personal skills, and the last month often focuses on making significant contributions to your team. This is just a general outline for how a plan traditionally looks, but of course, every employee’s specific monthly focus may change based on their role and their company.

Key Aspects of a 30-60-90 Day Plan

Simply setting any goals within 30, 60, and 90 days isn’t enough; you have to consider a number of factors to make sure that your 30-60-90 day plan is actually effective and useful to you. To do this, you need to ask yourself a couple of questions:

  • What are your team’s goals?
  • Based on those, what are your individual goals?
  • How will you measure these goals?

Asking these questions will help you understand what your priorities are so you can organize your goals and make sure you are on track with the rest of your team. They will also allow you to make specific and measurable goals where you can clearly define success.

Within the 3 separate stages of the 30-60-90 day plan, each will have different priorities. These priorities will help you determine what goals you want to set yourself for the period. With a specific and measurable goal, you have something concrete to work towards and will allow you to focus on achieving that goal. 

For example, one of your priorities within your first 30 days might be to learn more about the internal processes of the company. To do this, you want to set up a meeting with an experienced member of the team to learn about the process and also document what you learned from them. This goal is specific, measurable, and helps you work towards your set priorities. Below, we will be discussing the different focuses and priorities for each of the 30 day periods.

30-60-90 Day Plan Description

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Structuring Each Month of Your Plan

30 Day Mark

Your first month on the job can be particularly scary. You’re thrown into a new environment and may have all these goals and expectations for yourself but don’t know how to get there. It’s easy to get ahead of yourself and become overwhelmed if you don’t set realistic and achievable goals for yourself. 

For this first month, what’s most important is building the foundation for your future success at your company. Trying to overexert yourself before you even understand the company’s mission can leave you overwhelmed, and even prioritizing the wrong things. It’s crucial to take the time to truly understand your position and where that fits in the company’s mission and strategy. During this first month, learn, observe, and take in as much information as possible. Some things to prioritize during this period include:

  • Understand company mission statement and strategy
  • Learn about the company culture
  • Get to know colleagues and build professional relationships
  • Understand what the company and your bosses expect from you
  • Get to know company processes and procedures
  • Learn about customers, clients, and competitors

60 Day Mark

Now that you understand the company better, this next 30 days of the 30-60-90 day plan is focused on adding your own personal strengths to further benefit the company. At this point, you can progressively increase your workload and begin adding yourself more into the company’s mission to learn how you can most effectively boost the company’s growth. In the first stage, you may have done a lot of listening and learning, now it’s time to implement what you have learned and contribute more to the conversation. Some things to consider during this period include:

  • Build your personal brand within the organization, focus on your values and what you have to offer
  • Expand your skills and take on more tasks
  • Contribute during meeting conversations and share your own ideas
  • Suggest ways to improve procedures
  • Focus on practical application, rather than training
  • Become more involved 

30-60-90 day plan for new hires

90 Day Mark

By the third and last month of your 30-60-90 day plan, you should have a solid understanding of your role in the organization, what qualities you are able to contribute, and a sense of confidence in your abilities to grow the organization. What this 90 day plan for a new job consists of is turning those goals and opportunities that you’ve recognized, into action. This is your time to be proactive in making significant changes to your team to improve any processes and productivity. You’ve established your voice in the company and its time to use it. Some things to consider when making your goals for this month are:

  • Step out of your comfort zone and join other clubs and committees 
  • Learn about new projects and think of ways to contribute
  • Optimize processes that need adjusting
  • Implement new strategies
  • Fine-tune your individual work and progress
  • Take time to acknowledge your work

Tips to Create an Effective 30-60-90 Day Plan

Be Specific

A 30-60-90 day plan is used to create specific, measurable, and achievable goals for success. Often, new employees make the mistake of creating goals that are too broad and already assumed such as “understanding a key process.” This is already assumed otherwise you wouldn’t be able to do your job in the first place. Instead, how are you going to achieve that goal, what is something measurable that will define whether or not you understand and master that key process? Build measurable deliverables that hold actual value to your growth and the growth of the company. For example, a measurable goal would be “implementing a new program to optimize the effectiveness of the process”. The more specific you are with your goals, the better. 

Look at a 30-60-90 Day Plan Template to Help You Create Yours

If you’ve never created a plan like this before, it’s a good idea to check out another 30-60-90 day plan example that could be relevant for you. It’s useful to see the intent of these 30-60-90 day plans and how specific these goals should be in order to be success-driven and measurable. Here are also a few 30 60 90 plan examples you can look at as well as a video on how to build your plan:

  • A good example of a 30-60-90 day plan example
  • Although a good 30-60-90 day plan template is hard to find here is one

Use SMART Goals

When aiming to set and carry out any specific goal, SMART Goals can help you measure and manage your process in a controlled way. SMART is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timeline. Utilizing SMART goals allows you to focus on your priorities by creating narrow and attainable goals that are objectively measurable. So when creating your plan, SMART Goals are a perfect tool. When starting in a new position, it can be easy to lose sight of your priorities because you’re either overwhelmed or confused so managing your projects precisely helps eliminate the risk of losing sight of your goals.

Ask Lots of Questions

When you’re new to a company, asking questions is crucial to achieving a clear understanding of what the culture is like, what’s the status quo, what expectations your employers and bosses have, what internal processes are like, what challenges the company faces, and much more. To be able to align your goals and successes with the company, you have to understand the company. So ask around, talk to coworkers, and meet with higher-ups, or even people in other branches. Get to know those sounds in order to understand your place in the company. You can also ask questions to gauge what is expected of you in your first 90 days to help set your own goals and create your 30-60-90 day plan.

Be Flexible

As with any plan you set, there’s a possibility that you don’t reach your goal, and that’s okay! Although a 30-60-90 day plan is meant to be specific, that doesn’t mean it can’t be changed. It’s completely subject to move and be adjusted throughout the 90 days so be sure to both check-in with yourself from time to time or ask for feedback throughout your process and make any changes needed. Sometimes the priorities for yourself and your team change over time so checking back and seeing that your goals are still on the right track will help you stay focused on the right thing. 

30-60-90 day plan examples

Why is a 30-60-90 Day Plan Important?

As much as the 30-60-90 day plan is a tool to help you stay organized and focused during a potentially overwhelming time, an important key to this plan is that it sets up a framework for your success at the company. It not only showcases your leadership and organizational skills but showcases the potential you have in making a positive impact within the company. It proves to the people who hired you that you have reached measurable success within your first three months within the company and you continue to do so. While it may seem this way, the 30-60-90 day plan is not only a tool to help you during your first 3 months, but it is very importantly used to build a foundation of success going forward in your career.