REVIEWED BY
Sara Simmons | Jul 08, 2022

Over the course of 200 days, mobile DevOps platform, Bitrise, is planning to hire 200 new employees. That’s a lot of new people to onboard, so having a robust system for creating 30-60-90 day plans is essential to the company.

“This type of environment is stressful enough for a lot of folks and having that type of structure in the first 90 days, especially for people that are new to the startup game, that makes all the difference,” said Rik Haandrikman, vice president of growth at Bitrise.

What is a 30-60-90 Day Plan?

A 30-60-90 day plan is a document that guides an employee on the expectations and goals they should be striving for during the first 30, 60 and 90 days on the job. 

New employees actually get a first glimpse at a 30-60-90 day plan during the interview process at Bitrise. The company often includes a form of the plan in the job description for a new role so that candidates already have a sense of what their first few months on the job will look like should they be hired.

“Way before the person actually comes in, when we’re looking to fill the position, we already tell people because you have to cut through the hiring noise,” Haandrikman said. 

At Bitrise, Haandrikman said 30-60-90 day plans tend to be pretty high level, with a few bullet points for each milestone. The first 30 days are all about understanding the context of the business. At the 60 day marker, employees should be proposing concrete steps to reach an outcome, and by day 90, the company wants to start seeing deliverables.

“There needs to be a plan. It needs to be some kind of structure that you mutually agreed on, a structure that is outcome-focused and that helps people go towards maximizing their contribution to your company as fast as possible,” Haandrikman said. “Without a plan, it’s a mess, and 30-60-90 days works.” 

Haandrikman said that these plans should be shaped with support from a manager but with enough room for the employee to set their own goals. Bitrise offers a checklist with company-wide tasks that need to be part of these plans, in addition to department-specific KPIs.

“You need to set people up for success, both the person that comes in as well as the person that’s responsible for managing,” Haandrikman said. “Ideally, [there would be] conversations with the manager but not with the manager telling you what these goals should be.”

Whether you’re embarking on starting a new job, or you’re a manager bringing a new employee onboard, we’ve compiled a comprehensive set of tips to create 30-60-90 day plans that will support successful onboarding.

 

What Is a 30-60-90 Day Plan?

A 30-60-90 day plan is a document that guides an employee on the expectations and goals they should be striving for during the first 30, 60 and 90 days on the job. 

“We’re just trying to distill it down to something that’s achievable in the foreseeable future. Most people can get their heads around three months. Sometimes we even phrase it as ‘by the time of the first snowfall, what would you like to achieve?’” said David Ciccarelli, CEO of Voices, a marketplace for voice talent. “Some companies are like what are your short-, medium- and long-term goals? That’s completely subjective. I don’t know what you mean by short-, medium- and long-term, whereas 30-60-90 is very explicit.”

The creation of 30-60-90 day plans are a common component of companies’ onboarding processes as a way to set up a new employee for success in the early days of a job.

“Without that plan, I think it’s like building a house without foundation. You end up not being fully contextualized in the decisions or the judgments that you’re making, and also not having the right network to get input on the right ideas,” said Rebecca Port, chief people officer at biotech company 10x Genomics.

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Good Managers Initiate the Plans, but Collaboration Is Key

You might be wondering who should create these 30-60-90 day plans. Is it the manager or the employee? General consensus is that it’s important for the new employee to be a part of the process of creating the plans, but really, the manager should be taking the charge, especially for the first 30 days when the employee might have minimal context on the organization.

“If someone comes into the organization with some thoughts, then this will be pretty easy to fill out,” Ciccarelli said. 

At Jotform, a B2B SaaS app, team leads are in charge of creating the 30-60-90 day plans, but new employees are encouraged to take an active role in building their plans, especially after the 30 day mark. 

“At least for the first month, be as specific as possible,” said Annabel Maw, director of communications at Jotform. “Try to collaborate as much as you can after that and have them feel like they have ownership and autonomy over some of their goals.”

Adriana Roche, chief people officer at visual collaboration platform MURAL, suggests managers have a 30-60-90 day plan ready for a new employee but to sit down with them to discuss and modify the plan as needed.

“The important thing is that you fill this out before the person starts. So on day one, you sit down with them, and you walk them through this journey,” Roche said. “How does this sound? Do you want to change it? Does it sound like it’s too much? Should we adjust along the way reframe your onboarding? That’s been really helpful because then the person feels like they’ve co-created their onboarding versus just been handed something to them.”

Alexandria “Lexi B.” Butler has worked in tech for several years and is the founder of Sista Circle: Black Women in Tech. She said it’s important to meet with your manager on the first or second day of a new job to discuss what the manager’s expectations are. Then, be sure to set check-in meetings at the 30, 60 and 90 day milestones.

“I do want to acknowledge that not all managers are great managers, so therefore, you have to control your 30-60-90 day plan,” Butler said. “You need to be proactive and put it on the calendar. That’s the first step.”

How to Build a 30-60-90 Day Plan | Credit: Brendan Reid

 

Building a Plan: The First 30 Days

The first 30 days in a new job should be all about creating a foundation of knowledge before diving in head first. That includes meeting colleagues, learning systems and processes and understanding the company history and culture.

“The reason why you want to prioritize the people aspect in the first 30 days is to form those early bonds,” Ciccarelli said. “If we emphasize the building of the network in the first 30, then you know who to go to when you’re faced with a problem or a challenge.”

Common Tasks for the First 30 Days of a New Job

  • Read company handbooks and guides.
  • Meet team members and partners.
  • Learn company processes around benefits, requesting time off, etc.
  • Gain access to and learn how to use tools and systems (email, chat, softwares).
  • Attend coffee chats or onboarding sessions offered by your company.

At many companies, this looks like having at least 15- to 30-minute one-on-one meetings with team members or collaborators. Butler said she likes to ask her managers who are the people most impactful to her job and then she sets meetings with them. 

“The list of people your manager is getting you to talk to, those are your performance review people,” Butler said. “Literally your manager is telling you, these are the people that I will talk to to see if you get a raise, so it’s very important to know what they want from you, because if they like you, they will then tell your manager that you’re Beyoncé.”

Butler said she asks the people she works directly with the following questions:

  • What do you do?
  • How does my job fit what you do? 
  • What do you think my job is?
  • How can I help you?
  • Is there anyone else that I should talk to, and can you send an intro between me and that person?

“You’ll be very surprised by the people that you get introduced to at this company,” she said.

Some companies like MURAL, 10x Genomics and Voices prioritize having a buddy system for new employees, where they can get to know someone else at the company who they can go to for guidance that isn’t their direct manager. 

“We make sure that we also have a peer onboarding partner, so really having a buddy with somebody, a safe space where you can ask those questions that you perhaps wouldn’t want to ask of your manager,” Port said. “Someone who can help you understand the context of the why behind things and really as a sounding board as you go through onboarding and to help build the network as well.”

During these first 30 days, Maw suggests taking time to go over the responsibilities in the job description and starting to think of a plan to tackle them, plus focusing on learning the company dynamics.

“It’s mostly just getting a really good framework and foundation for how the company operates and how the product works, and then just understanding the competitive landscape too in the industry,” Maw said.

 

Creating Goals for the 60-Day Milestone 

After the first 30 days, many companies expect that there will be outlined steps for meeting an employee’s initial goals or completing first projects.

“Between the 30 and 60 mark, it’s really about getting your projects ready. We’ll chat about what their first projects are going to be,” Maw said. “It’s just laying the foundation for each of the main projects that we want them to start, and this is also a collaboration to have literally the top three priorities that we’re going to have you focus on.”

By day 60, Ciccarelli said Voices employees are expected to have an understanding of the product and be able to give a product demonstration, which is a rite of passage for new employees. At Bitise, Hanndrikman said employees should strive to start making an impact on the business after the first 30 days by outlining specific steps to reach a goal.

Conversations with colleagues should continue after the first 30 days, Butler said, and these conversations should go even deeper to help employees learn about how they are performing against expectations so far.

“We have worked together for 60 days, and therefore, we can actually talk about a specific thing we’re working on,” Butler said. 

 

Wrapping Up the 30-60-90 Plan

By the end of an employee’s first three months, they are often expected to have an outcome to share with the company.

“For the 60 to 90 day, it’s not that dissimilar from the 30 to 60, but the big thing is what is the outcome that you want to see on day 90? Not the output, but the outcome that you want to see,” Roche said.

It’s not too early to start making enhancements at the company by day 90, Haandrikman said.

“At the end of the 90 days, we’re looking more into deliverables, so a plan to do X; a measurable improvement in Y. They can get pretty concrete,” Haandrikman said.

At an employee’s 90-day review with their manager, Butler suggests asking these questions:

  • What have I done well? 
  • What can I work on? 
  • How do you see me in this role evolving in the next year?

These questions will help you to understand your strengths and where you stand out — your special skills and abilities that will help shape your career. 

“Now people have gotten to know you. They’ve gotten to see your strengths and your weaknesses because everybody has them,” Butler said. “You start creating your career … people just start seeing it, and in those 90 days, people will start giving you those tidbits.”

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30-60-90 Day Plan Templates

While 30-60-90 day plans are highly personalized to the employee, a template is a proven way to help a manager get started and make sure they don’t forget all of the essential tasks needed for onboarding.

“[It is] 100 percent critical. I think that it, one, takes off a huge load from managers to have here’s a template. Here’s some things to think about,” Port said. “Having that sort of guideline as to how we operate is fundamentally important.”

Ciccarelli shared Voices’s template. He said the plan ideally fits on one page and is in bullet form. 

“I think by having a template it actually almost becomes a bit more of a fill in the blanks. It just creates structure, because it’s like, ‘well, how should I even be thinking about my 30-60-90? Do you want this in a presentation? How much, how little should I be writing?’” Ciccarelli said. 

A screenshot of Voices' 30-60-90 Day Plan Template.
Voices’s one-page 30-60-90 day plan template. | Image: David Ciccarelli/Voices

Naturally, MURAL’s 30-60-90 day template is highly visual, mapping out a path for an employee to follow over the course of the first three months.

Screenshot of Mural's 30-60-90 Day Plan.
MURAL uses a visual template for its 30-60-90 day plans. | Image: MURAL

Butler creates an Excel document with tabs for 30, 60 and 90 days. She has columns for the tasks she’s working on and the feedback she receives. For items she’s told to keep working on after the first 30 days, she copies them to the 60 day tab, and so on. 

“You need to have a document that literally has all three of those spaces for you to write that down, so at the end of the 90 days, you can review all of it,” she said.

She also said working with the Workday software has been a helpful way to keep both the employee and manager accountable with documenting progress.

“These tools are great because it requires them to write something down,” Butler said. “Then when it’s time for their year-end review, they can go back to it and see what they wrote down and taking those tidbits of how well they did, who they talked to.”

 

30-60-90 Day Plan Can Be Flexible

30-60-90 day plans are tried and true, but you could change up the timeline to fit your company’s needs. At Instawork, a career marketplace for hospitality professionals, they use 14-30-60 day plans.

“I think 30 days feels like it’s a long time. The first week, second week, it’s really important to get things going quickly, particularly for some of the basics, like who to meet, go get these reports,” said Sumir Meghani, co-founder and CEO of Instawork. “A quarter at a startup or a tech company, so much could change. We pull it forward a little bit. We tend to be a little bit more hands-on the first two weeks, but then let people go a bit more after that.”

Two of Instawork’s guiding principles are “bias for action,” and to “always be learning,” so the company embraces a fast pace and pushes its employees to dive into meaningful work right away.

“All of our engineers, we expect them to push code on their first day, something, even if it’s simple,” Meghani said. “We’ll have a sales rep get on the phone, make a dial. Obviously we’re not asking them to close a deal or not asking for a big feature, but getting people to go quickly is really important.”

 

Benefits of a 30-60-90 Day Plan

Why do 30-60-90 day plans matter? Essentially, they are a digestible way to help an employee transition into their role smoothly, have a vision for their position and not feel too overwhelmed. 

“I think it’s just really important to really understand the company and perform their job at the best way they can,” Maw said.

Plus, these plans can give employees a consistent introduction to the company and hopefully help an employee feel confident about joining the company.

“It creates a cohesive experience amongst new employees,” Roche said. “I think it helps confirm the choice that the employee made from the very beginning. If you do it well, you create a sense of cohesion with the people, so creating a sense of belonging, and then getting people ramped up as quickly as possible, which means that people will be more productive faster, and then also they’re going to feel much more engaged because they’re feeling like they’re having an impact from the get-go.”

30-60-90 plans don’t have to be just for new employees, Ciccarelli said. You can use them to help someone transition into a new role or acclimate again after a leave.

“Any kind of re-entry, the 30-60-90 day plan is a great level set,” Ciccarelli said. “In consideration of a promotion, that actually is much more meaningful because somebody has the context of what are the big objectives of the year, the strategically important initiatives that are already in flight and how might you have an impact on those?”

Ultimately, onboarding plans can be a strong predictor of an employee’s future success at the company.

“At least in the first 14 and 30 days, I found a high degree of correlation between new hires who can hit that plan and who are successful long term,” he said.

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