5-second summary
  • A comprehensive 90-day plan doesn’t just set expectations for new hires – it makes them feel welcome and included.
  • Using the “buddy system” can make a 90-day plan even more effective.
  • Building in milestones for checkpoints at 30, 60, and 90 days will ensure that new team members are set up for success throughout the onboarding process.

The first 90 days of a new job usually involve a pretty steep learning curve; so much information to absorb, so many people to meet. If you’re the new hire, you want to prove yourself. If you’re the hiring manager, you want to set your new teammate up for success.  

Based on our own onboarding practices, we’ve learned that using a 90-day plan can make it easier for newbies to get up to speed, understand their roles, and establish a strong team and company culture. Check out our templates below to see what we include.

If you’re starting at a new company that doesn’t already use 90-day plans, consider using these templates as a starting point for gathering information. Schedule time with your new manager or a veteran coworker to fill in the blanks.

What is a 90-day plan?

Our definitive, road-tested virtual onboarding checklist

A 90-day plan is a framework for planning out how to onboard, acclimate, and educate new team members. It sets expectations for what the person will be expected to deliver in their first 90 days, which can include both learning goals and performance goals. Some people also refer to it as a 90-day action plan, which adds a nice emphasis on proactivity.

A 90-day plan should define the specific details that will allow the new employee to achieve success. A well-written plan should spell out how this person’s new role and day-to-day duties level up to company metrics and long-term plans. It should help them define priorities and checkpoints for follow-ups on their progress.

Ideally, a 90-day plan should:

  • Serve as a single reference point for resources, outlets for support, and clarity on responsibilities and goals
  • Introduce and foster an environment that supports regular growth conversations with managers so the employee can envision their path for advancement
  • Orient the new employee to company and team culture by emphasizing relationships and shared objectives
  • Reinforce strategies that support a growth mindset and a proactive work style

What should a 90-day plan include?

Keep in mind that an effective 90-day plan will vary depending on your company, goals, and the employee’s needs. 

Here are some great questions to think about when writing a 90-day plan for a new team member:

  • How can you use this plan to help a new team member succeed?
  • What quick wins can they ship to gain momentum?
  • Who are the key stakeholders this person needs to know about?
  • Since this person is coming in with a “clean slate” mindset, are there fresh insights you’d like them to contribute? 
  • What feedback and observations would you like the new hire to include in a 90-day wrap-up blog or other written summary? 

As you’ll see in our templates, our 90-day plans lead off with an introduction. That helps the rest of the team experience someone’s writing voice, see pictures of family and friends, and learn about interests, hobbies, and whatever else they’d like to offer about themselves.

One way to make a 90-day plan more effective is to use a kind of buddy system. Buddies show new teammates the ropes, introduce them to other Atlassians, and act as go-to resources for questions.

The first 90 days are precious. It’s important to have the right plan – and people – to act as a guide.

How to create a 90-day plan

Generally speaking, there are a few organizing principles to focus on.

  • 90-day plans are often broken into three phases: Days 1-30, Days 30-60, and Days 60-90.
  • Don’t overwhelm your newbies! You can’t learn everything there is to know about a job or a company in three short months. Focus on what matters most, and what’s realistic in the timeframe you’re working with.
  • Consistent, frequent check-ins are very important, since you’ll be defining goals for what should be learned or delivered in each phase.
  • Both the new hire and their manager should feel empowered to give honest and timely feedback (about systems, company habits, points of uncertainty, you name it) – don’t wait until the 90 days to clear up any points of friction.
  • Don’t underestimate the power of open communication – it can mean the difference between clarity and confusion or empowerment and ineffectiveness.

90-day onboarding plans are good for your company culture

A 90-day plan isn’t just a task list – it’s the foundation for working together, learning together, and understanding team and company culture.

At Atlassian, we don’t think of a new hire’s first 90 days as a trial period or proving ground. Rather, we encourage an emphasis on knowledge gathering and sharing and relationship building. Initial tasks, goals, and deliverables should focus on helping someone feel more comfortable and confident about the road ahead.

Regular check-ins, honest feedback, and the support of learning (and failing), help establish a bedrock of trust, which should underpin all team and company interactions – during the first 90 days and beyond.

How to create a 90-day plan for new hires