Optimizing Your Transition Into a New Role: The 30/60/90-Day Plan

As you start a new job or take on a significant promotion, implementing a 30/60/90-day transition plan will help organize and optimize your first 90 days in the role.

You have likely spent weeks, months or even years seeking out and securing the next step in your career. Once settled, it might be tempting to celebrate, give notice to your current employer, hunker down (or enjoy a brief vacation) and then jump right into the mix. But what if you could create a more deliberate entry point for greater success and to ease your transition?

Through my work as an executive coach, I have witnessed time and again that the final step in a successful job transition is not accepting the offer. Candidates who make the greatest and most lasting impact consistently prepare themselves ahead of time for those critical first few months in their new role.

Herein lies the genius of a well-devised plan.

Recognizing Why You Need A Plan

When I work with coaching clients to develop 30/60/90-day plans, I invariably start by sharing this article by David Gee, which he wrote about his first 90 days as the chief investment officer of Credit Union Australia Limited.

As Gee attested, and as many of us have experienced over our own careers, either we set an agenda and priorities for a new role or our days are quickly overrun by the sheer volume of activity. Gee wrote, “I learnt very quickly that events and meetings would consume me unless I was clear where I wanted to focus my time and energy.”

While you may enter a role with the expectation of a fresh start and ample ramp-up time, work often takes on a life of its own as early as the first day or week on the job. Communicating an actionable 30/60/90-day plan to your team goes a long way in ensuring you are doing the right things among the busyness of business.

Structuring Your Plan

If you are not familiar with 30/60/90-day transition plans, Gee’s article offers an excellent overview. He structured his plan as a chart with “People,” “Process” and “Technology” as headers. Within each, he defined high-level departure points to guide his execution of top priorities, such as:

What does success look like?

What are the CEO’s expectations?

Who are the key players (outlined in a stakeholder analysis and influence map)?

Gee’s chart features both a high-level structure and sufficient detail to keep him on track. As you review it, reflect on the relevant questions and guiding principles for your own plan and how to best structure what you want and need to make your greatest sustainable impact in the first 90 days.

Individualizing Your Plan

One of my C-level clients, let’s call her Jordan, structured her own 30/60/90-day plan as follows:

In successive rows of her header column, Jordan listed her main constituents (board of directors, CEO, other C-suite leaders, regional managers and her team) followed by top anticipated projects and other areas to address. In the remaining columns across her chart, she mapped her goals for each over 30, 60 and 90 days.

While Jordan would have valued time to settle into her role before leaping into action, she was hired by her new CEO on the assumption she would swiftly shore up certain trouble spots in the organization (and be compensated accordingly).

On her plate was to help realign a splintered board of directors, merge diverse geographical regions under a smaller subset of managers and replace two key employees (which she labeled as Projects A, B and C), all while meeting the overarching goals of increasing revenue and raising the organization’s reputation in the marketplace.

People – Impact

30 Days 60 Days 90 Days
Board of Directors
Project A
Project B
Project C

By breaking up each of Projects A, B and C into achievable goals over manageable periods, Jordan could better predict the steps, time investment and travel schedule she would need to tackle each one. She also could clearly map out how her efforts across these projects would support larger organizational goals.

Tempted to triage and move to execute on each of these projects as soon as possible, Jordan nonetheless recognized that she first needed to set the tone and goals for her own team. She devoted the mornings of her first week at her new office to meeting with team members individually and spent afternoons on conference calls discussing each project in turn. In this way, she gained clarity, demonstrated authority and made initial progress on all key areas, as well as with her team.

Jordan then devised a tight yet manageable travel schedule for the following three weeks. She planned flights to five cities over two trips—making creative use of layovers—with a short break in-between. This put her face to face with individuals (scattered across the country) who were critical to her understanding of long-standing issues and generation of practical, optimal solutions.

AdobeStock_92595365 (priorities).jpg

Setting and Achieving Your Priorities

As you reflect on Gee’s and Jordan’s plans and devise your own, you may wish to include some agenda items from Gee’s chart:

  • Building relationships, coalitions and your team.
  • Branding yourself.
  • Setting the time to reflect.
  • Establishing and monitoring key personal metrics.
  • Ensuring accountability.
  • Executing quick wins that can foreshadow more substantial improvements.

Gee took pains to meet as many people in the organization as possible in his early days in the role. Speaking from a position of leadership, he also told his team what he stood for, how he liked to work and what he expected from them. Finally, he made sure that his progress, as measured against his 30/60/90-day plan and more generally, was “very visible” to his manager and team.

While a 30/60/90-day plan cannot guarantee success in a new role, outlining high-level goals and priorities with an accompanying action plan will facilitate the right mindset and allow for more seamless execution. Seek feedback from others as appropriate – either prior to your new role or in the first days at the office – and make sure to consider and include enterprise, team and individual goals.

Anne Marie Segal is an executive coach, resume writer and author of two well-received books on interviewing and career development. She served as a corporate attorney for 15 years before launching her coaching practice. The above article, other than the chart (added here), was originally published as a Forbes Coaches Council post and available here.

Image above: Adobe Stock.

Author: Anne Marie Segal

ABOUT ANNE MARIE SEGAL Anne Marie Segal, founder of Segal Coaching LLC, is a career and leadership coach, author and resume writer who guides attorneys, executives and entrepreneurs through career transitions, advancement, job interview preparation, leadership development and personal branding. A former finance and hedge fund attorney, Anne Marie has presented to the United Nations (ICTY/MICT), University of Chicago, United Way, Association of Corporate Counsel and National Resume Writers Association, among other organizations. She has published two career-related books: Master the Interview: A Guide for Working Professionals and Know Yourself, Grow Your Career: The Value Proposition Workbook, written on career and resume topics as a Forbes Coaches Council member at Forbes.com and been quoted on CNBC.com, Monster.com and other media outlets. You can learn more at AnneMarieSegal.com or visit her LinkedIn profile at linkedin.com/in/annemariesegal.

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