Laura Berlinsky-Schine
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Starting a new job? Interviewing for your dream position? A 30-60-90 plan can help you succeed. This roadmap for achieving your goals in the role will allow you to adjust to different responsibilities and expectations. It also provides concrete steps for achieving the objectives you’d like to accomplish early on and longer-term as you get the lay of the land and get acclimated to the environment. 

Just what is a 30-60-90 plan? And how can you create one that helps you achieve your career goals? Keep reading to find out.

What is a 30-60-90 plan?

The first three months of a new job is a period of adjustment, and it’s natural to feel a little overwhelmed at times. You’re still testing the waters and learning more about the employer’s expectations. But a 30-60-90 plan serves to mitigate some of the anxiety and apprehension you’re likely experiencing by giving you a clear outline and path to succeeding in your role. 

Essentially, the idea is to outline goals you want to achieve at the 30-day, 60-day and 90-day mark. You’ll break down your objectives into manageable pieces across the timespan to formulate a realistic picture of what you want your first three months on the job to look like.

This roadmap can help you by providing an outline to look back on and make sure you’re on track at the beginning of your role. It will also show your employer and manager your ability to plan and prioritize and provides them with a way to measure your progress as you adjust. Additionally, it will enable you to familiarize yourself with the organization’s mission and culture since your goals should support them, as well as increase your productivity during a time of great adjustment. 

When should I make a 30-60-90 plan?

There are several situations when you should make a 30-60-90 plan. Most commonly, people create them when they are starting a new job. A manager might ask you to do this and go over it with you during an early performance review, or you could proactively decide to make one on your own so you can assess your own performance and ensure that you’re on track.

Another time you might make one is when you’re interviewing for a position. This can be a supporting document to show the hiring manager your plan for success on the job. Accompanied by your resume and work samples, it will demonstrate your competence and ability to understand what is necessary for performing the job well and going above and beyond expectations. Again, the hiring manager might ask for this document as part of the interviewing process, or you can create one without being prompted to demonstrate how seriously you’re taking the prospective job.

While these are the most common situations in which you would create a 30-60-90 plan, they aren’t the only ones in which the plan will be useful. For example, you might also implement one when you’re working on a longer-term project. With this roadmap, you can lay out your goals and divide the project into manageable, achievable components.

What are the elements of a 30-60-90 plan?

30-60-90 plans will vary based on the individual, role and organization. Still, you’ll usually want to include these parts and follow this general outline.

Focus

You probably have a number of goals for each phase of your plan. However, you know that some of these goals are more important than others. For each monthly benchmark, develop a focus — some critical areas that are pivotal in succeeding in your role and achieving the rest of your objectives. 

While you should prioritize the most important points for each month in your 30-60-90 plan such that you know what’s most critical, that doesn’t mean you should overlook the other objectives in your plan. These elements are all important, but a focus will allow you to hone in on what’s most essential for the big picture, while the individual goals will support that focus.

Top priorities

Like the goals (we’ll go into those in greater detail below), the top priorities will support the focus. Zero in on some broad points that should demand your attention first and foremost for each phase in your overarching plan. 

The priorities should be more specific than your focus — and, of course, there will be a greater number of them. While they should be ambitious, they should still be achievable. In other words, think about ways to grow, but don’t make them so lofty that they’re impossible to meet.

Goals

The goals are the meat of your plan, the details that support your priorities and, ultimately, your focus (or focuses, as the case may be). These smaller-scale objectives will serve as the nitty-gritty of your plan. 

You might divide your goals into categories to better organize them and make them more manageable — one category might educating yourself about the ins and outs of the organization, for example, with individual goals of having one-on-ones with each team member and developing a knowledge of the skills necessary for success.

Additionally, make your goals SMART: specific, measurable, actionable/achievable, relevant and time-bound. This will give you a concrete path to achieving them and meeting your focus and priorities.

Measurements

Of course, making your plan is only part of the process. You also need to be able to measure progress and success. This means establishing a means and stage for knowing exactly when you’ve achieved your goals, priorities and focus. 

How will you track your progress? Not all goals and priorities are quantifiable, but there are still ways to measure success. For instance, if your goal is to master a certain system at work, you can measure it by knowing you’re able to complete a process within the system without asking for support.

How to write a 30-60-90 plan

Short sentence of transition, then ~150 words under each of these H3 headers:

Think big picture

For each phase of your plan, consider each one of your focuses, top priorities and goals fit into the larger mission of your personal contributions and that of the organization as a whole. Consider, how each one of the elements fits into this bigger picture, in terms of why the organization hired you and how you plan and hope to contribute to the purpose.

Your “big picture,” of course, will vary based on your role — whether you are an individual contributor, a manager or an executive. But whatever your level of expertise or experience, you’ll have some larger to consider. At the end of the day, everyone should be thinking about how their unique contributions factor into their organization’s overarching plan for success.

This begins with your personal big picture, but it also involves your company’s big picture. When you’re formulating your 30-60-90 plan, account for both priorities and reflect on how the two overlap.

Learn about your new role  

Sure, you’ll probably have some kind of basic knowledge of what’s expected of your role in terms of responsibilities and tasks. That doesn’t mean there won’t still be a learning curve as you adjust to your new role, no matter where you fall into the hierarchy of your organization — assistant, individual contributor, manager or executive.

In order to learn about and understand the intricacies involved in your new role, asking plenty of questions, both at the interview stage and at the onboarding stage. Don’t be worried about bombarding your manager with inquiries — it’s better to ask your questions now than fall short and not understand the expectations later on, when this lack of knowledge could detrimentally impact your team or your project.

Learning more about your new role will also allow you to develop an effective 30-60-90 plan. Without the knowledge, you won’t be able to effectively understand and implement the skills and overarching plan for succeeding in your role and supporting those who report to you.

Set challenging but feasible goals

Goals are a critical part of your 30-60-90 plan. They offer guidelines and a roadmap for achieving your high-level ambitions — your focus and priorities. Each goal will, in some way, contribute to the larger picture of your success and progress. 

While your goals should be concrete and ambitious, they shouldn’t be so lofty that they are unachievable. They should be manageable, such that you shouldn’t be intimidated by them or feel like they are impossible to meet. Otherwise, you could well give up on them or feel like you’re failing by not meeting these impossible standards you’ve laid out for yourself.

Determine how you’ll measure success

How will you assess your progress? How will you know when you’ve met that certain point you wanted to meet? 

We’ve discussed the importance of measurement tools for evaluating the success of your 30-60-90 plan. To reiterate that initial message: have a clear tool or plan in place for measuring how you’ve done in terms of implementing your decisions and determining whether or not you’ve met your goals and objectives. Otherwise, you won’t know whether your decisions have panned out and what you need to adjust in the future.

Different goals will require different measurement tools — it’s not one size fits all. For every component or goal, consider how you will be able to evaluate your plans and how you’ll consider each piece of the overall plan, in both quantitative and qualitative ways (different objectives will require different types of metrics and measurements).

Be flexible

Things change. Plans change. Ultimately, nothing goes exactly as you may have expected it to. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a plan in place, however. Plans are the backbone of your goals and ambitions. They provide a course of action for you to follow and an objective for you to meet, whether in the short-term or long-term.

Still, you must be flexible. Because the world is volatile — as is your industry, no matter where you work — you shouldn’t be apprehensive about changing your mind or redirecting your plan to fulfill more pressing or current goals. It’s only natural to reprioritize and reconsider your plans when the circumstance changes. In fact, this is expected; nothing goes exactly as you initially expected it would, even in the first 90 days of your new job. 

You’re allowed — and encouraged — to change course when the situation calls for it.

30-60-90 plan example for individual contributors

30 days

Focus: Familiarize myself with the company and company mission.

Top priorities: Build relationships with colleagues and manager, learn the company systems and develop a plan for correlating individual projects and tasks to the overarching company mission.

Goals:

• Invite at least two colleagues out to lunch every week and ask them about their roles and responsibilities.

• Comb the company site and social media accounts; make a list of takeaways.

• Prepare an outline or schedule for completing daily responsibilities.

• Develop a list of key objectives for my individual role and draw connections to how each of my responsibilities support the company mission.

• Go over key objectives of both my role and the company with my manager to ensure understanding.

60 days

Focus: Become confident in my role and reduce the need for support or assistance with day-to-day responsibilities.

Top priorities: Understand the roles of my teammates, be able to use my systems confidently without assistance and fully understand how my role fits into the larger picture. 

Goals: 

• Know the names and roles of each of my team members, as well as how I’ll work with them to complete my responsibilities.

• Be able to access all of the systems necessary for my job without assistance.

• Fully understand how my role contributes to the mission of the company and be able to confidently explain it to outsiders.

• Regularly put at least one of my initial objectives into action via my regular responsibilities on a daily basis.

90 days

Focus: Be able to function without guidance or a to-do list from my manager and understand the overarching strategy and how my individual contributions manifest in this system.

Top priorities: Be able to get to work every day without direction from my manager, reflect on how my contributions matter in terms of the larger picture of success, develop relationships with vendors or clients and confidently access systems without any intervention or guidance.

Goals:

• Create a to-do list independently.

• Establish contacts outside of colleagues.

• Have one meeting or sale in the pipeline with an outside client, customer or vendor.

• Work with at least one colleague every day to execute my job functions.

30-60-90 Plan Example for Managers

30 days

Focus: Understand every team member’s role and what my position is within the larger company and mission.

Top priorities: Get to know each member of the team

Goals:
• Carve out time to talk to each team member and ask about their pain points and key priorities.

• Establish a metric system for evaluating the performance of each employee and overall projects.

• Create a system for developing a budget.

• Develop a system for measuring the success of each employee.

60 days

Focus: Encourage employees in their career paths and help them develop critical competencies for success.

Top priorities: Ensure employees know and understand their individual contributions, develop an effective process for measuring employee performance and implement a system for rewarding employees who go above and beyond.

Goals:

• Understand how each team member contributes to the bigger picture.

• Teach employees at least one new system.

• Create a reward system (bonuses, promotions, etc.) for compensating high-performing employees.

• Develop a mentoring or coaching system to assist employees with performance and execution.

90 days

Focus: Implement plans for developing employees’ strategies and measurements for success; practice leadership skills.

Top priorities: Lead meetings without assistance or support from other managers, create an employee professional development plan for the next year and find a concrete way to participate in the company’s larger mission. 

Goals:

• Create a “path” for the next year for each direct report.

• Create a path for myself for the next year for key points and responsibilities.

• Develop projects that contribute to the larger mission and involve relevant employees.

• Ask for feedback from employees and manager at established intervals.

30-60-90 Plan Example for Executives

30 days

Focus: Learn as much information as possible about the company and its overarching mission and goals.

Top priorities: Fully understand each department’s role, as well as how individual contributors and managers fit into the big picture, and get to know how and why each system is in place.

Goals:

• Meet with each department leader or manager individually to ask about their key roles and priorities.

• Review current plans in place to assess their relevance to the bigger picture.

• Review existing strategies and consider their efficacy in the larger organization.

• Attend at least one meeting per department.

60 days

Focus: Create new goals for your overall organization and each individual team.

Top priorities: Review opportunities and threats, understand the existing and future goals of every team involved in my organization and inform my plan for the future of the organization.

Goals:

• Ask each manager to define a top priority for their team and solidify a plan of action for executing that particular plan.

• Identify overlapping perspectives from individual managers and leaders.

• Establish new priorities for your team and overall organization based on the feedback you’ve received.

• Review the objectives of your manager to determine why you were brought on board and what the expectations are for you and the company.

90 days

Focus: Hone in on critical areas that require improvement and implement a concrete plan for changing operations at your company. 

Top priorities: Account for each department manager’s key objectives for their team, gain an understanding of how each manager’s objectives fit into the larger picture and goals of the organization and develop a plan that addresses each piece of the puzzle.

Goals:

• Meet with each manager (again) to review their key priorities and discuss how they will contribute to the larger mission.

• Review each obstacle in reaching your mission and come up with a plan for skirting or addressing it. 

• Hone in on how each priority your or a manager has identified will fit into the bigger picture.

Remember that your 30-60-90 plan should be customized to your particular situation, organization, role and characteristics; the above examples just serve as samples of what a general plan might look like. No matter what, it should serve the purpose of helping you acclimate to your new role and adjust to the expectations your employer has of you — and will give you a means of reaching your own goals.

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