Everything You Need to Know About the 30-60-90 Day Plan for Executives
When starting a new job, understanding the ins and outs can be difficult. Even more so for executives, who have responsibility over employees and teams. It’s useful to have a structure in place to make the transition into a new position smoother both for the new executive and the employees working under them.
A 30-60-90 day plan can define this structure for the first three months of your role. In this article we’ll dive into everything you need to know about creating a 30-60-90 day plan for executives in your organisation.
What is a 30-60-90 day plan?
A 30-60-90 day plan is an outline of set objectives for employees to meet in the first 30, 60, and 90 days of a new job. It links learning to better and faster performance and productivity on the job. For executives, a 30-60-90 day plan is about setting the executive up for success during the onboarding process by ensuring a smooth transition into a new role or company.
Why is a 30-60-90 day plan for executives important?
During onboarding new employees spend much of their first week (and beyond) trying to wrap their heads around their new role, your company’s mission and company culture. This is to say: Taking on a new job is overwhelming at the best of times. Couple that with taking on a new executive role, and you could be overloaded from all directions.
This is why a 30-60-90 day plan is important for new executives to have. Becoming an executive requires a change in your mindset, as well as in your employees and stakeholders. As a new executive, you’ll want to establish relationships with those employees and stakeholders and give them confidence in your leadership. An executive is also responsible for developing and implementing effective, agile strategies that drive the business towards its goals and help retain a competitive advantage in the market.
You have the first 90 days to train and prepare executives to the point that they can effectively perform their jobs. So, not only should your 30-60-90 day plan set out a detailed agenda for your leadership goals within the organisation, but it should also break down training so it’s not overwhelming. But what is the best way to do it?
A performance learning management system (PLMS) can help in demystifying performance-linked training for your 30-60-90 day plan. At Acorn, we’ve pioneered the creation of a PLMS for this exact reason: To guide learners step-by-step to mastering the specific capabilities of their roles in order to deliver on organisational performance and the company’s mission.
What are the benefits of a 30-60-90 day plan for executives?
A 30-60-90 day plan doesn’t just benefit the new employee, but the company as a whole. This is no different for executives. Some clear benefits to your business and employees include:
- Maximised value and impact
- Clear expectations
- Clear goal setting
- Improved productivity.
Maximise value and impact
Your 30-60-90 day plan should make clear your company’s mission and how your role aligns with it. When employees are aware of how their job benefits the organisation and its strategic goals, they’ll find value in their work. That increases their engagement and productivity, bringing positive performance impact to the business.
A 30-60-90 day plan is just that: A plan. That means it has all your leadership objectives laid out from the start, which you and your employees can use as a guide for your expectations. For your employees, it means they know what you expect from them as team members. For you, it means you know what is expected of you as a leader.
It also serves as a reminder of your priorities. You won’t be expected to be perfect at the job from the get-go. Instead, you’ll have a learning curve as you settle into your new position. While results may not be expected in week one, you’ll be able to prioritise work to meet achievable milestones.
Clear goal setting
When you have clearly set out expectations you can use them to help set concrete goals. These include the goals of the agenda outlined in your 30-60-90 day plan, but you should also include smaller goals and milestones along the way. By setting smaller measurable goals, you’ll have a solid plan going forward of how you should be tracking as the first 90 days in your new job progress.
Having clear expectations, goals and alignment with the company helps new employees and executives reach optimal productivity sooner. They know what they need to do and when and how to do it, so they can hit the ground running and meet their performance goals with a few quick wins.
In a sense, improved productivity is the sum of all other benefits of a 30-60-90 day plan.
What should be included in a 30-60-90 day plan?
Your 30-60-90 day plan for executives will be different to one made for an entry-level employee or new manager role, due to job responsibilities, experience and professional goals. There are four key things that need to be included:
- Expectations and goals
- Resources and information
- New hires’ checklist
- Company mission.
Expectations and goals
Expectations are needed to define the basis of working relationships and your performance. This isn’t just about managers’ expectations for subordinates, but also subordinates’ expectations for their managers. The idea is for everyone to outline their expectations for their professional relationship to ensure the transition into their new working relationship is as smooth as possible.
This is the same for goals. You need goals that you’re expected to achieve in your first 90 days, but you also need your own personal goals regarding what you want to accomplish in your role. It builds a plan of action for your time as an executive, with milestones to meet along the way.
Resources and information
Part of onboarding is learning everything you need to know to excel at your new job, from understanding systems, processes and policies to the more role-specific skills and knowledge. Your 30-60-90 day plan should be your most valuable resource here, containing a collection of job- and company-specific resources and information that can assist a new hire as they struggle to gain their footing.
New hires’ checklist
As we said: starting in a new position is overwhelming. There are so many small, innocuous tasks (Think: updating passwords, setting up email signatures, etc.) to be done early on in your career, more so for executives. A 30-60-90 day plan can lay all these small tasks out for you, from what they are to when they need to be completed by. These are small administrative tasks which need to be completed to ensure the handover runs as smoothly as possible.
A good 30-60-90 day plan should spell out your company’s mission and vision. This part is important because executives help to set and translate strategy to employees who need to have a sense of purpose behind their role in the organisation, but that can take time for new employees to fully comprehend.
When employees feel that their job is aligned with their organisation’s strategic goals, they’re more likely to stay with your business. That alignment and understanding of purpose means they’ll also find value in what they do early on in their tenure, increasing their performance (and that of their team). You don’t need a 30-60-90 day plan to communicate this alignment between a role and organisational goals, but having one is a much more efficient and effective way of ensuring a new hire understands their greater purpose within the business.
Best practices when making a 30-60-90 day plan
When you go about creating a 30-60-90 day plan, there are a few best practices to keep in mind. These are:
- Using SMART goals
- Breaking the plan down month-by-month
- Reviewing and monitoring.
Use SMART goals
SMART is a goal-setting model designed to help leaders set and meet business goals that are:
The model is designed to provide direction and a guide for action planning when it comes to setting goals. The idea is that the SMART model designs goals that will motivate employees to meet them, thus driving performance.
Just like the name implies, this means you need to make your goals specific. Clearly stating the goal and ensuring it’s tangible enough to measure. For example, a sales team might have the goal of closing more sales, but vague goals like “closing more sales” aren’t tangible.
You’ll want something specific such as closing a certain number of sales, or increasing sales by a certain percentage. Just remember it needs to be something clear and focused.
This is where you utilise your key metrics and KPIs to measure your specific goal. Having a clear goal should make this simpler for you. For example, if your goal was to increase sales by 20%, then you already know how you’re going to measure that goal.
Make sure your goals are actually achievable for your new executives. It’s no use trying to increase your sales significantly if you don’t have the sales representatives to achieve that, or the developers to produce the product customers are meant to be buying.
Remember your business strategy and ensure that your goals are aligned with your long-term objectives. If your strategy is to bring value to your customers, having your sales reps hound them to buy from you as a goal is probably not a good idea. Instead, you should make sure your goal looks towards actions that will bring value to your customers, while also increasing your sales.
This is the part where you decide on a timeframe in which you want your goals to be achieved. You need to keep your other SMART factors in mind when you do this though. It’s no use setting an ambitious goal if you’re going to set a timeline for its completion that’s too tight—or too loose. You’ll only be setting yourself up to fail by demotivating your team members, leaving them too stressed or too bored. Make sure your time constraints are reasonable.
Break it down into separate months
It’s overwhelming to look at a plan that details everything a company and its senior executives want from you within your first three months. This is why breaking the plan down into three separate months makes the process of starting in a new position, especially as an executive, less daunting.
First month, 1 – 30 days
This is the stage where new executives try to find their footing. This means learning the job and materials related to it and setting goals for the future. It also means building relationships with other employees you’ll be working with. You can do this with weekly meetings or one-on-one meetings with your team members to get a feel for who they are. (And don’t forget to gain a clear understanding of their expectations of you in these early meetings.)
Second month, 31 – 60 days
At this point, you’ll start to come into your own in your position. You might already be comfortable with where you are. But usually, this second-month period is where most executives begin to perform the tasks expected of them efficiently. This means starting to develop hiring plans, implementing change to improve processes and systems used, and creating more goals for the month (or even the quarter).
Third month, 61 – 90 days
As an executive, you should already have experience from your previous role, so you should be well and truly productive in your position by the time you reach your third month. At this point you’ll have an in-depth understanding of employees’ roles and capabilities, and will be able to actively drive and execute company strategy.
As an executive, you’ll be working to continually improve business processes by the end of your third month. For some, this includes developing an effective hiring plan to maintain a skilled workforce. For all, this means receiving direct reports and feedback from current employees.
Adjust accordingly, and follow up
It’s important you don’t just outline your 30-60-90 day plan and stick to it strictly to the point of rigidity, because sometimes your plans don’t work out the way you want them to due to unattainable goals or unexpected changes. Encourage reflection when it comes to 30-60-90 day plans to adjust it to your needs.
After your first 90 days are up, you’ll want to reflect on how they went. Ask yourself what went well and what could have gone better, and follow-up with your boss to discuss the results of your 30-60-90 day plan and onboarding process. This will help in creating 30-60-90 day plans for new employees, executives, and your own roles in the future.
When to use a 30-60-90 day plan?
There are two key moments when a 30-60-90 day plan comes into play:
- During the interview process
- During the onboarding process.
During the interview process
Sometimes a hiring manager will ask potential candidates for a role to outline their possible 30-60-90 day plan. This is because hiring managers want to have a deeper understanding of a potential candidate’s own plan, personal goals and new ideas for their role in their new company, and how that might fit into the team’s existing strategy.
When hiring executives in particular, employers expect them to be committed to learning and assisting the company in its strategic initiatives. They want to know if the incoming executive has a plan to address organisational pain points and strategic initiative goals. On a smaller scale, the business wants to know they have a plan for leading their new team to success within the organisation.
Even if a hiring manager doesn’t ask for new hires’ prospective 30-60-90 plans, employees can still find making one beneficial in their job search. It shows dedication and enthusiasm for their new job and a willingness to take initiative. Even if you don’t know the business-specific tasks you’ll be responsible for, you’re probably looking for a similar position to the one you’re currently in, which means you can use some of your experience and expertise from your previous role to inform your plan and highlight key areas that you want to focus on.
During the onboarding process
The onboarding process is where 30-60-90 day plans are most commonly used. This is where your employer outlines their expectations of you, and you can outline your goals and expectations for yourself. It will serve as a guide for how to run your first 30, 60, and 90 days, the idea being that you will have a firm grasp on your role as a new executive team member by the end of your first 90 days.
A 30-60-90 day plan can also be used as a way of measuring performance goals, too. With clear expectations and set goals, employers can use them in performance reviews to track how well an employee has done in their first three months, as well as use those goals as a basis for finding and delivering constructive feedback.
A 30-60-90 day plan is a useful tool for both the interviewing and onboarding processes, making a new executive’s transition into their role easier for themselves and their employees. Using a 30-60-90 day plan helps to maximise value, define clear goals and expectations, and optimise productivity in your organisation.
When you develop your plan, remember to:
- Use SMART goals
- Break it down month-to-month
- Monitor and review.
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