Business Bites: 30-60-90-day plans

Nick Walsh FBDO
ABDO sector skills development officer

Nick Walsh looks at 30-60-90-day plans for individuals and businesses…

All businesses and job roles can benefit from a 30-60-90-day plan. But what is it? A 30-60-90-day plan is a document used to set goals and strategise. All employees should be working towards the same company-driven goals, so the plan should align with overall company success. All businesses and job roles can benefit from a 30-60-90 day plan.

Starting a new job is exciting and invigorating, but it can also be an anxious time and a little overwhelming. Creating a goal-driven plan can help you adjust to your new position quickly and effectively – and 30-60-90-day plans are great tools for an effective start to a new position.


New job: 30-60-90-day plans are a great way to productively use your time to learn about your new job and begin working. These plans are most often associated with beginning a new job.
Project: 30-60-90-day plans can help create an actionable project template. They are useful in dividing a project into manageable tasks.
Performance review: 30-60-90-day plans can be implemented following a performance review. Take the constructive feedback you received and create a 30-60-90-day plan to meet your end goal.


Focus: Creating a clear focus for your first 90 days of a project or role ensures that your daily actions will be productive.
o Learning goals: To set these, ask, “What knowledge and skills do the team and I need to be successful? How can they best absorb and acquire that information and those abilities?”
o Performance goals: These are concrete things you want to accomplish or complete as part of a project or new role. To set these ask yourself: “What progress do I hope to make within the first 30/60/90 days?”
o Personal goals: These goals are more about getting to know the people you’ll be working with and defining roles within your new company or team. To set these ask: “Who are the key people I need and want to build relationships with? How can I establish and foster  those relationships, so that I’m seen as trustworthy and credible?”
Success: Your line manager will see that you are capable of self-management and achieving goals. This indicates that you are an employee worthy of development.

Create a SMART 30-60-90-day plan

30-60-90-day plans should include goals. Keeping things SMART helps focus on what’s important and what needs to be done. It makes achieving objectives real, and puts the possibility within everyone’s grasp. Make each priority into a concise statement and run it through the SMART test.

Follow these steps for setting SMART objectives. For each objective ask yourself whether it is:
Specific: will everyone be able to understand it? A vague objective often leads to poor results.
Measurable: clear targets allow you to measure whether you are making the progress you expect or have anticipated.
Agreed, attainable and achievable: objectives must be agreed so your people can own them. They should be attainable and achievable by the person you have asked to meet the objective.
Realistic and resourced: given your resources and the current climate, is your objective realistic? Do you have the resources (the time, money and tools) to make it happen?
Time-bound: you must set a clear timeframe for objectives so the people working on the objective are clear about when it should be achieved by.

An objective will only be useful if it passes the SMART test. If it doesn’t pass, change it until it does. Once you’ve agreed the SMART objectives, put them in a format that makes it easy to review and update.

Follow the steps below to create a 30-60-90-day plan:

1. Draft a template
Create or find a pre-made template to manage your plan. Your template should have:
o Space for your goals for 30, 60 and 90 days
o Space for different types of goals
o Space for actions to achieve your goals

2. Define goals
Determine your goals for your project or new position. These should be SMART goals that are either:
o Learning goals
o Performance goals
o Personal goals

Make a general list of goals and then sort them into the appropriate category on your template.

3. Identify 30-day targets
Look at your list of learning, personal and performance goals. Identify any knowledge or learning-based goals. The first 30 days in a new role should be dedicated to learning about the company and your specific role. One example may be to meet with key stakeholders. Establishing healthy working relationships is key to success in any project or role. Set up meetings with the following people within the first 30 days:
o Your line manager
o Other co-workers on your team with whom you’ll work closely
o Other colleagues who are in your role or a similar one
o Any cross-functional partners (on other teams) you’ll work with regularly
o Any external partners (outside of the company) you’ll work with regularly
o Your new direct reports (if you’re a manager)

4. Identify 60-day targets
Identify goals related to contribution. These goals should rely on implementing the knowledge gained during the first 30 days. The second 30 days of work should focus on contributing to the company’s mission.

5. Identify 90-day targets
Identify goals related to leadership. The final 30 days should focus on using the knowledge and experience gained in the first 60 days to appropriately and effectively lead a team.

6. Create action items
Look at your goals by type and date. Create a list of action items that can be used to assess whether or not you have met your goals. These should be measurable and achievable.

When using the 30-60-90 day plan:
o Maintain a growth mindset: Prepare to adjust your goals and actions as needed. Learn and adapt from unsuccessful strategies rather than giving up.
o Prepare to quantify: At the end of each 30 days, quantify your progress. Use this information to inform your next 30 days of work.
o Make it readable: Keep your 30-60-90-day plan short. It should be one to two pages long so that it is easy to skim.
o Look at immediate needs: Have a good understanding of the desired objective of the business and what the major goals are. This should help to form your priorities.
o Tackle major projects: Whether the position you’re interviewing for is new, or you’re filling the role of someone moving on, there will be certain responsibilities you’ll be expected to fully assume after a short amount of time on the job. Explain how you evaluate and prioritise work tasks. Outline the approach you will take to get a handle on projects, both in progress and planned, to ensure you are developing comprehensive work plans and timetables.
o Don’t ignore low hanging fruit: Many companies have a handful of projects or objectives that have never been completely handled and are on the periphery. Offer an explanation for how you would clear up this low-hanging fruit by quickly and efficiently addressing a number of tasks.

Useful links

Comaford C. Sink or swim: a new leader’s guide to the first 90 days. 6 August 2012. Forbes.
Forbes Coaches Council. 13 things every new employee should do in their first 90 days on the job. 5 March 2019. Forbes.
SlideUpLift. 30-60-90 day plan PowerPoint: the North Star for a new manager. 15 November 2019. Medium.
Ready-made 30-60-90 day plan templates.