facebook Skip to main content




The 30-60-90 Day Management Plan: A Template for Success


Nearly half of leadership transitions fail. This isn’t unlike hearing that half of all marriages end in divorce; usually, a bitter taste is left in the mouths of the manager, organisation and direct report after a failed transition, and interest in doing it again is negligent. 

The 30-60-90-day management plan is a framework for the first three months in a new managerial role. It helps set managers up to succeed with a step-by-step plan that links personal goal-setting to business strategy. 

How to write one, what to include and a 30-60-90 day management plan template are all included in this article.  

What is a 30-60-90 day management plan?

The 30-60-90 day management plan outlines what a new manager hopes to achieve in their first 30, 60 and 90 days in their role. It serves as a plan of action with short-term performance goals aimed at making their onboarding smooth but impactful. 

Why is a 30-60-90 day management plan important? 

A 30-60-90 day plan acts as a safeguard against new job anxiety at best and poor performance at worst. It also creates a more deliberate entry point for your transition, mapping impact beyond the job description. 

For many organisations, this is what they’re looking for in a leader or manager. You are the conduit between strategy and performance. Failing to connect with your team and effectively translate business goals to everyday work can mean getting a lashing from both sides. It’s a flow on effect with the following not-so-desirable milestones. 

Infographic of the impacts of unsuccessful leadership transitions

That’s the worst case scenario. The good news is that a 30-60-90 day management plan foresees the challenges many first-time managers face

A big part of this equation is contextual learning. Given new leaders are busy folks, only relevant content need be made available to them by mapping the capabilities they need to develop.

Linking performance and development is the exact thing a performance learning management system (PLMS) can help do. We pioneered the PLMS at Acorn to enable learners (in this case, new leaders) to master the specific capabilities that’ll accelerate their performance, and thereby, the organisation’s.

The trap of a 30-60-90 day plan 

90 days is usually the standard probation or grace period for a new role (and it can even stretch to 180 beyond executive levels). But reaching full productivity in your first three months shouldn’t be the end goal. 

McKinsey found that 92% of external hires and 72% of internal hires take more than 90 days to get to full speed. A 90-day management transition should be focused on taking stock and action in a handful of areas, not all of them. 

Don’t fall into the trap of planning to hit ridiculous goals. It only sets you up to fail and shows the higher ups you can’t effectively strategise. Michael Watkins, author of The First 90 Days, says that the time period is simply critical for setting good habits and making efficient and effective use of your time—not to achieve everything you possibly can as a leader in 90 days. The world will keep turning on Day 91. 

6 leadership transition pitfalls to avoid

When to write a 30-60-90 day management plan 

There are two instances where you may create or be asked to create a 30-60-90 day plan. 

The first is for an interview. You’d use it show understanding of the role, organisation and its strategy. Look at it like you’re telling the story of what you’d achieve in the role: How do your qualifications and the requirements for the role align? If there are gaps, explain how you’ll use those first few months to bridge. It’s often also on the candidate to present this plan in an interview, so consider how you’d weave it into the conversation. 

The second is during the first week in the role. The hiring manager might map it out for the employee, but it shows proactivity if you create one yourself. 

Best practices for a 30-60-90 day management plan 

Your plan will be your own, but there are some ways to get the most of the learning phase of your new job. 

  1. Connect your plan to strategy 
  2. Create tactical goals 
  3. Account for change and hurdles. 

Look at the bigger picture 

This is where you build credibility. If you’re an external hire, you’re likely starting from zero. Even stepping from IC to people leader will mean you have to prove yourself. Understanding the forces at play beyond your role will enable you to make more strategic goals.  

Consider the personal challenges of the role, like: 

And know what pain point you are addressing for the organisation. 

Set clear, measurable goals 

A new job is not just about you. You are trying to help your team achieve their goals. If you make your personal goals reflective of their outcomes, you’ll win more respect and make more of an impact. The company’s key performance metrics will also help you set your own performance metrics. 

The SMART goal is useful here. Specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-bound milestones keep you true to the team’s existing strategy when setting goals. “Better Google Analytics strategy” isn’t a SMART goal, but “Within the first 60 days, identify top call-to-actions and implement them across top 10 ranking webpages” is. You can better measure success at the end of the 30-60-90 day plan this way, too. 

If all else fails, Michael Watkins recommends focusing on technical, cultural and political learnings. 

Be flexible 

You should assume that the dynamics of the role, team and business environment may hinder goal realisation. For example: A team member may unexpectedly leave just a few weeks into your new role. Their replacement will have to be allowed time to get up to speed, which may impact the resources you have for a goal. Adaptability is a function of strategic thinking, which is in turn a crucial leadership skill

Part of adaptability is allowing for course correction—and also coming to terms with the fact you aren’t going to change the world in 90 days. (See The trap of a 30-60-90 day plan above again.) 

How to write your 30-60-90 day plan 

Think of it as month-long sprints. Not sprints as in marathons, sprints as in project management. Sprint planning defines what needs to be done and how it will be achieved in a certain timeframe. 

So, break your plan down by its name: 30, 60 and 90 days.  

First 30 days 

Consider your first month as a new manager about building relationships and learning tactical knowledge. This is about lessening a new role’s learning curve. 

Your best course of action is conversation. A new team will likely have just as much fear as you, which makes one-on-ones a great way to get to know your team on both a professional and personal level. Weekly catch-ups help uncover the team’s work style; some will enjoy blunt feedback, while others prefer to have instructions over-explained. 

Even if you’ve assumed a role with familiar faces, you’ll need to understand how your own team’s processes are carried out so you can better strategically support them. There may be latent problems that could turn into future fires.  

At the very least, you want to identify the core activities that create value. Hard data is also useful here. Financial and operational reports, customer sentiments and employee surveys create patterns in company culture and behaviour. 

30 – 60 days 

Now is when you can start to apply what you’ve learned and aim for those easy wins. Start thinking operationally; any initiatives you set for yourself in this time should be more strategic than the scene-setting goals in the first month. Say you gathered that the marketing team don’t have a central source of information, but you see a chance to make their knowledge transfer more efficient with a central wiki.  

Setting goals that benefit others—not just company goals—is a good way to show your commitment as team lead. As long as you’re not challenging the status quo, you can secure influence. 

60 – 90 days

Around about now is when you reach a break-even point. Look at your original KPIs. How is the marketing team’s wiki paying off? What proportion of time are they spending searching for information now? What tools have you implemented to understand their usage of the site? 

At this point, you should also know what your personal and the team’s development needs are going forward. You should have identified your high potentials and who needs some coaching. Highlighting skills gaps shows you are looking to eliminate bottlenecks to the company’s mission. Schedule a check in with your manager at the end of the 90 days to discuss your progress and training needs.  

30-60-90 day management plan template 

You can structure your plan in almost anyway you like. Our free template includes four key elements for a complete action: 

  1. Goal 
  2. Initiative to realise that goal 
  3. Performance goals for the first 30 days, easy wins at 60 days, and deliverables at 90 
  4. Key stakeholders to lean on or learn from. 

Key takeaways 

There are many unknowns associated with stepping into a new leadership position, whether you’ve had experience in management before or not. What if you can’t adapt fast? If you’re starting in a new organisation, how does BAU differ to previous cultures? How does one transition into managing their former peers? 

A 30-60-90 day plan is the workaround. It acts as a framework for success in a new manager role, outlining the goals that will have an impact beyond core job responsibilities.  

Share this post!

Related Reads on This Topic

manager congratulating his successor under a succession plan

What is Succession Planning and Why Is It Important for Business Strategy? 

Succession planning can play a major role in ensuring productivity and workforce planning. Find out more about it and why it’s important…

manager and HiPo employee

The Importance of Retaining the High-Potential Employee (aka the HiPo) 

Retaining high-potential employees (HiPo) is highly important for any business. Find out why and how your company can achieve this…

developing a leadership capability framework

Why You Should Use a Leadership Capability Framework When Developing Leaders

A leadership capability framework is designed to outline the skills, knowledge, and abilities required to perform a leadership role…