How to Write a 30-60-90 Day Plan to Tackle Your Career Goals

Have you ever wondered how your company’s senior executives rose to the top echelons or how a job offer just slipped away from your grasp?

In both instances, a 30-60-90 day plan might have helped you enormously. With such a plan you become able to navigate a constantly shifting work environment, get hired, or even achieve your career goals more readily to reach that promotion you want.

And the best thing about a 30-60-90 day plan? It’s as easy as 1-2-3 to get started.

If you’re interested in increasing your professional value while also adding value, read on to learn how you can leverage this process. This should help you accomplish your career goals as well as achieving success in all facets of your life.

Here’s what we’ll cover:

What Is A 30-60-90 Day Plan?

Simply put, a 30-60-90 day plan is a set of plans that builds upon each successive strategic initiative.

The goal is to map out each month into 30 day segments and outlining your strategy in written form. You plan out exactly what it is you want to accomplish, how you’re going to accomplish it, and what your next steps are once you do.

It minimizes the time spent thinking and wondering about what your next course of action is and allows you to keep the momentum going.

Benefits Of A 30-60-90-day Plan: Why Write One?

Although a bit dated, the old adage of “failing to plan is planning to fail” still holds true, and for good reason. The first 90 days or 3 months of starting a new job is often construed by firms to be the probationary period – the span of time they’ll use to evaluate a new hire and decide whether or not to keep them. 

Considering the magnitude of importance the first 90 days of starting a new career are, the benefits of having a 30-60-90 day plan are plentiful.

1. It displays competence and initiative

Starting a new job is difficult. From getting acclimated to the work environment to familiarize yourself with the myriad of existing projects, it can be a lot to handle at once.

Having a plan to ease your onboarding process exemplifies your commitment to learning the ropes as fast as possible to start doing good work. It also reduces the time upper management and your new team has to spend teaching you the ropes.

It makes you stand out from the competition. Why? It shows that you care about your work and that you’re willing to go the distance in becoming a productive member of your new team.

2. It cuts down on mistakes

It’s never a good idea to blindly rush into something – doubly so for something as important as your career. Having a tangible plan that your team and management can review allows them to identify pain points and other areas of improvement before launching into a project. This 30-60-90 day plan helps your team as much as it helps you.

3. It allows you to prepare for the future

With a 30-60-90 day plan, you’ll never be guessing what your next move is. Every subsequent step on your journey to success has already been mapped out, revised and planned. You won’t have to do research on the fly or think of a strategy weeks or days ahead of an important meeting. That time is now freed up for you to better prepare and plan what matters.

When Should You Create a 30-60-90 Day Plan?

Situation 1: 30-60-90 day plan for a new job

Imagine that you’re onboarding with a new firm. Aside from the acclimation process, there’ll be a litany of new things to learn and keep track of. From special accounts/clients, workflow to special projects, it can be more than intimidating.

Considering the fact that the first 3 months is typically a probationary period, your performance during this time is critical.

If there was ever a time to create a 30-60-90 day plan, this is it.

Seek to understand the core elements and processes of your new job. This means your products/services, clients, competitors and maybe even the people that you’ll be interacting with on an everyday basis. 

Endeavor to soak in as much as possible and seek out new information whenever possible. This will build a good foundational knowledge of which you can build upon and refer to in the next 60 days.

Subsequently, your next 30 days – now totalling 60 days – should be about reviewing what you already have.

Is there something that your colleagues brought up about your performance that you should be revising? What about a specific way to approach a client? 

Think critically about how you can better display the added value you bring to your new company.

The next 30 days, the last stretch of your 90 day plan, is an opportunity for you to put your plan into action and demonstrate all that you have learned.

At this stage, document everything you’ve done to add surplus value to your new firm. This can feel like a burdensome task, but it provides valuable insights for you to leverage in your performance review.

You’ll go into your performance review with hard data in hand, becoming capable of letting management know what your exact impact on the company is.

Situation 2: A 30-60-90 day plan for a manager position

30-60-90-day plan template
 
How To Write Up Your 30-60-90 Day Plan
  • 30 Days – ‘Observe’
  • 60 Days – ‘Analyze’
  • 90 Days – ‘Optimize’

The 30-60-90 day template for a manager position is slightly different, but its core principles remain the same. The process looks nearly identical to the plan for a new job; with the content being the only discernible difference.

Step 1: 30 Days – ‘Observe’

As important as knowing the company and the product/ services you provide is, what’s doubly important is getting to know your team.

Becoming amicable and getting on a first-name basis with all of them should be the goal of your first month as a new manager.

Figuring out how you will interact with your new team and understanding your responsibilities and obligations to them will be your first month’s strategy.

And you might find that you’ll still be doing this well past the initial 30 days depending on the size of your firm and team.

 
Step 2: 60 Days – ‘Analyze’

After the first 30 days of acquainting yourself with your new team, you can start identifying their pain points.

As with the prior onboarding plan, this second month should be about critically reviewing what you have learned and already know about your team. You can reflect on what you can improve about both yourself and your colleagues.

 
Step 3: 90 Days – ‘Optimize’ 

The last 30 day stretch of your 3-month plan should be spent  presenting a detailed plan to improve – whether that be yourself, your team, or the company.

Only spending 3 months on the job, upper management might still be wary of putting their complete trust in you. But that doesn’t mean you’re powerless – devise a strategy or plan to improve, present it to the executives and consult with them for their advice.

This way, you, your team and the executive team are all involved in the process and it’ll cement your credibility as both a manager and a leader.

 

This is just a brief overview, so up next we’re going to go through each 30-60-90 day plan in full detail.

30 Days – ‘Observe’

Your first 30 days is all about absorbing information. You have to learn how to walk before you can run, and you won’t be able to scale up in the subsequent months if you don’t have a good foundational knowledge base.

Depending on your company, the first 30 days spent in a new job is predominantly filled with training sessions, meetings and getting you up to speed with the company’s current projects and accounts.

Take this opportunity to ask as many questions as you may have. The direction and pacing of your next 2 months will be dictated by this initial fact-finding stage.

Don’t be scared to find out as much as you possibly can about your new role and its responsibilities, as well as your new company.

Here’s our list of tips for your first 30 days:

  • Take an inward-looking, growth-focused mindset.
  • Develop at least five SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely) goals that tie you to the organization’s fiscally-driven forecasts
  • Seek advice from a mentor, at work or outside and keep them informed when and/or if your key performance indicators (KPIs) change
  • Familiarize and understand your role and manager’s/executive’s expectations of you
  • Start formal, professional relationships with your colleagues and managers/executives
  • Grow your responsibilities and skills, and document them so that they can be quickly presented to your mentor or, worse case, written into your resume should you need to find another job later on.

e.g. Conduct one two-hour session each week where you partner with a key stakeholder to learn his/her job and how you can make their workday easier.

60 Day: ‘Analyze’

This next stage should be about aggregating your knowledge and data into something cohesive for you to critically review.

Review the efficiency of your established work flows and reflect upon the surplus value you’ve provided for your company in your new role. Also take into consideration the advice your mentor(s) and colleagues have given you.

Now is the perfect time to figure out areas of improvement for yourself and your role. Continue to ask for feedback and start implementing a plan for the next 30 days.

  • Begin to shift your inward-facing review outward in order to identify key strengths, opportunities, threats, and weaknesses (SWOT) of the business.
  • Once you identify some opportunities for the business, reassess your SMART goals and make sure they’re aligned with the business. e.g. Increase company’s accounts payable by 15 days and renegotiate with key suppliers based on projected materials and inventory costs in the coming 18-months.
  • Begin to take on an increasing amount of responsibility and contribute to conversations while being mindful of your knowledge gaps and expectations
  • Start to showcase what you do well within the company and begin building your own personal brand
 
  • Continue to update your infographic or Kanban chart so that your manager knows you are being proactive when it comes to your growth within the corporation.
90 Day: ‘Optimize’

So, you’ve observed for the first 30 days and then evaluated for an additional month-long period. At this stage, you should have a firm understanding of your role and its responsibilities, as well as the company.

You should feel comfortable executing new strategies and goals, as well as have a good enough rapport with management to consult with them.

  • Make long-term timelines or Gantt charts to illustrate that you are committed to stakeholder wealth generation and not just your own short-term gains
  • Ask about professional certification programs
  • Be prepared to offer you solutions and advice for new problems and new projects
  • Don’t just contribute to meetings, begin to lead them
  • Look to onboard your own mentee or help other new hires or mid-level managers by hosting meetups or lunch-and-learns.

Key Takeaways On The 30-60-90 Day Plan

Customize it, don’t template it

As tempting as it can be, don’t present a templated 30-60-90 day plan during the hiring or review process. Each role and company is unique and will require you to bring different things to the table – a templated plan will only serve to stifle you.

Additionally, a major selling point for the 30-60-90 day plan is that it displays initiative and competence.

If you’re unable to formulate a plan that’s unique to you, your new company and role, it’s time to evaluate whether or not you’re ready to start your new position.

What’s most important about this process is that it paints you as authentic and truly committed to your organization – don’t cut corners.

Have concrete and solid goals you actually can and want to achieve

This isn’t a mandatory school assignment where you create goals  just for completion’s sake – this is a plan for you to succeed and grow in your company.

Don’t populate your list with objectives and ideas that sound good on paper which you end up not accomplishing in the end. In essence, don’t make a 30-60-90 day plan just to look good during the interview and review process.

Your goals should be ambitious, but not unachievable. Having targets you can’t reach and goals you fail to achieve won’t do you or your company any favours.

Push yourself, but within your own capabilities – don’t bite off more than you can chew.

Be ready to present it when necessary

A 30-60-90 day plan should not be a “set and forget” process – you should be contributing and updating it with how you have met or exceeded your KPIs.

This way, you can be ready to present your manager/executive with an up-to-date report on how you’re progressing in the company whenever they ask for one.

Emulate the “Observe, Analyze, Optimize” structure for your 30-60-90 day plan

30-60-90 day plans work so well because they build off the successes of the previous 30 and eventually 60 day segments.

You won’t be able to analyze your processes or knowledge base without having adequate knowledge in the first place. Likewise, you won’t be able to optimize your tasks if you haven’t had a chance to review them.

Though every 30-60-90 day plan will differ in scope and content, it’s core 3 category structure remains the same.

With all of that being said, even if your annual review was unsatisfactory or your last project went off the rails, a 30-60-90 day plan in which you recommit to your continuous professional development is always a great alternative.

If that doesn’t sound like you, it might be time to start over with a fresh set of goals. This will help you realign your dynamic workday around the needs of your boss, coworkers, and role in general.

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Written By Editorial Team

Along with the blog’s editors, we’re a collective of writers aimed at providing valuable industry insights and educational resources for DIY’ers, entrepreneurs, professionals and hobbyists. We range from former scientists, research students to enthusiasts and freelancers. Have a question or suggestion? Reach us at [email protected]