The 30-60-90 Day Plan: Your Key to Effective Onboarding

CoachHub · 23 November 2022 · 5 min read

A 30-60-90 day plan is often used by organizations to provide a suggested framework for the new employee during their first three months of employment. It is aimed to help new employees build solid relationships, grow and learn what is important to the organization at a quicker pace and ultimately make them more effective contributors to the organization.

What is a 30-60-90 day plan?

A 30-60-90 day plan is an onboarding tool used to define the expectations and objectives of new employees during their first three months in a new company.

The onboarding period is a vital opportunity for employers to create a positive impression and cultivate a sense of belonging and purpose for their new employees.

A 30-60-90 day plan can be instrumental in guiding the new hire through an enjoyable and effective onboarding experience. It will provide the employee with all the necessary resources and information, and set clear goals and milestones to reach while reducing any ambiguity surrounding what is expected of them.

Onboarding can be a sensitive time for new hires who may become overwhelmed with information and unsure if they made the right move. Amy Hirsh Robinson, principal of the consulting firm The Interchange Group warns that such uncertain circumstances can cause employees to “jump to premature conclusions” that will only become magnified as they progress in their role.

With a good 30-60-90 day plan employers can ensure their new hires have the support they need while being a source of motivation.

Improves retention

A positive onboarding experience can set the tone for the entire experience of new hires. A solid start can help an employee feel stable and secure, knowing they have made the right decision. Research by Click Boarding found that “69% of employees are more likely to stay with a company for three years if they had a good onboarding experience”. With nearly one-third of all new hires quitting their jobs within the first six months, a good 30-60-90 day plan can improve retention and prevent negative early experiences that are hard to overcome.

Clarifies expectations

Creating a 30-60-90 plan with your new hire will establish mutual agreements regarding your expectations as well as their own expectations and preferences. This decreases miscommunications and disappointments on both sides. Employers can define what a successful employee looks like to them while an employee can outline what they require to feel supported and valued in the workplace.

Optimizes productivity

Having clearly defined priorities and a clear roadmap will enable new hires to focus their time and attention on important tasks. A 30-60-90 day plan reduces confusion and allows for more efficient time management. They will not waste time being unsure of what to do next or trying to find answers to simple questions.

Communicates company culture

This document is an excellent way to ensure new hires are aware of the company’s mission and values. The desired culture can be clearly outlined in the plan and allows employers to paint a picture of the culture right from the beginning. This significantly reduces misalignment and allows companies to communicate their own ideals and values.

Reduces overwhelm

It is naturally incredibly challenging for a new hire to retain all the new information during their first few days and weeks. A 30-60-90 day plan can be a one-stop shop for all the most important pieces of information and resources. This helps employees to relax knowing they have a reference for each step on the onboarding journey.

30-60-90 day plan

When to use a 30-60-90 day plan

The most common time to use a 30-60-90 day plan is during the onboarding process when managers and new hires sit down and define their objectives for the coming months. Such a tool can also be used when employees make moves within the company into new teams or departments. The tool is also useful to increase morale and motivation during projects or performance reviews.

A 30-60-90 day plan could also be used if you are interviewing for a new role and are looking for a way to impress hiring managers. Creating your own informal and hypothetical 30-60-90 day plan that outlines how you will approach the first three months of the job is a great way to stand out.

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

Each plan should be unique and cater to the individual needs of employees and their roles. The information should cover the company-wide mission and values as well as the specific information needed for each role and department.

  1. Company mission: Communicate the overall mission statement of the company and detail the higher purpose of the organization
  2. Company culture: Highlight the culture and values of the company and define what the company stands for. 
  3. Resource list: Provide a detailed list of benefits, support and resource groups available to the new hire. 
  4. New-hire checklist: List all the tasks to complete during the onboarding process such as gaining log-in details to systems and registering for any necessary programs.
  5. Concrete goals: Set clear objectives for the new hire to achieve within 30, 60 and 90 days. For goal setting to be effective ensure each goal is specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound as per the SMART goal-setting method.

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Tips to create a 30-60-90 day plan

Talya Bauer, Ph.D., author of Onboarding New Employees: Maximizing Success, highlights the importance of a good onboarding experience in making new hires feel relaxed and supported. “The faster new hires feel welcome and prepared for their jobs, the faster they will be able to successfully contribute to the firm’s mission”.

When creating a 30-60-90 day plan consider Bauers’s four levels of onboarding and ensure your plan addresses them all:

  • Compliance: Details of important legal and policy-related issues.
  • Clarification: Total clarity on their individual role and responsibilities. 
  • Culture: Communication of organizational values and norms.
  • Connection: Connecting new hires to experienced employees and networks. 

Working with a coach can help your company to improve the onboarding process and help you to create an effective 30-60-90 day plan. An expert coach can highlight the priorities necessary and can guide managers through utilizing the plan to its full potential.

In conclusion 

The onboarding period is a sensitive time for new hires and can significantly impact their impression of the company. A good experience in the early days increases their trust in the company and provides much-needed reassurance. Working with a clearly defined 30-60-90 day plan can be the exact tool that makes the difference. A professional coach can help you to create the best possible plan and guide you through its implementation. This will ensure you do miss this vital opportunity to capture the trust and loyalty of your new hires.

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Cathy Stapleton
Cathy is an Irish writer based in Berlin, Germany who is passionate about using words to inspire growth. As a certified mindfulness facilitator and performance coach, Cathy aims to create work that helps people connect with themselves and heighten their awareness. When she is not writing she is usually running in nature, meditating or contemplating an existential crisis.

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