We all know the feeling of starting a new job. How will you get up to speed quickly? What would you do in the first 90 days of a new job? How will you learn everything, meet the right people, and convince those who hired you (and yourself) that you can do this?
There’s no doubt it can seem overwhelming. But we’re here to help. We’ve included a 90 day plan template (PDF below) and a 90 day plan Trello board (also below).
Based on our own onboarding practices, we’ve learned that using a 90 day plan for new hires makes the process of joining a team and understanding your role – as well as team and company culture – smoother and more complete.
What is a 90 day plan?
A 90 day plan is a framework for planning out how to onboard, acclimate, and educate new team members. Its purpose is to make sure new hires start off on the right foot, feel welcomed, and get familiar with how the team and the company work. In creating the plan, the most important goal is to make sure that each new team member has a clear understanding of what they’ll be expected to learn and deliver in their first 90 days. Some refer to it as a 90 day action plan, which adds a nice emphasis on proactivity.
- Note: We at Atlassian view someone’s first 90 days as a period of learning, discovery, and relationship building. The idea is to make someone feel comfortable, informed, and confident about their ability to contribute. We do not view it as a “probationary period” during which someone must prove themselves or risk reprimand.
69 percent of employees are more likely to stay with a company for three years if they experienced great onboarding.Society For Human Resources Management
At Atlassian, 90 day plans are the main way new hires learn about the company. Each plan is unique to the individual, and it provides a single reference point for resources, support, and clarity. The plans help introduce and foster an environment that supports regular growth conversations with managers, right from the beginning, so that every employee works with a growth mindset, sees a path toward advancement, and knows that learning (and failing), asking questions, and being proactive are all part of a healthy working environment and foster strong company culture.
Whatever you do, don’t just wing it. Get a plan together, create milestones, schedule frequent check-ins, and collect and share information freely. With a practice and a method, getting up to speed will be quicker and smoother. Plus, it encourages team and company culture-building from the get-go.
What should be included in a 90 day plan?
If you’re looking for tips on how to write a 90 day plan, we’ve got you covered. But always keep in mind that what an effective 90 day plan looks like will vary depending on your company, goals, and individual needs. That said, there are many commonalities to writing a good 90 day plan. Check out the suggestions below. You may find it easiest to download the 90 day plan PDF template and/or open up the Trello board and reference them as you read further.
Great questions to think about when writing a 90 day plan:
- How can you use this plan to set a new team member up for success?
- What quick wins can they ship to gain momentum?
- Who are the key stakeholders?
- How can they hack the system and make an impact? (New people see things others have become inured to.)
- What to include in a 90 day wrap-up blog or other written summary? (An awesome exercise that provides an opportunity for new hires to share insights and show personality and expertise.)
To help someone navigate their 90 day plan, we use a buddy system at Atlassian. Buddies show new teammates the ropes, introduce them to other Atlassians, act as go-to people for the common questions that arise in the first few months of any new job, and generally help make the transition smoother. In all our 90 day plans, we lead off with that introduction. We get to 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 to the community.
We also pair new people with someone from their functional division (sometimes the same as your buddy, sometimes different) to help them get started on the team. This person can help with everything needed to make an impact, and recommend tools, explain common work practices and habits, and elaborate on the nitty-gritty about working on the team.
The first 90 days are precious. It’s important to have the right plan – and people – to help guide you through it.
How to organize your 90 day plan
Generally speaking, there are a few organizing principles to focus on. They’re based in time milestones, i.e. Week 1, Day 30, Day 60, Day 90 wrap up, and consistent, frequent check-ins, particularly with your manager. All along the way, you’ll define goals for what you’ll learn and deliver, and when. The power of spelling it all out can’t be overstated. It’s the difference between clarity and confusion, empowerment and ineffectiveness.
Here’s an example. It’s divided by outcome and action items. These are suggestions, so feel free to tailor as you see fit.
P.S. It’s good for your company culture
The practice of a 90 day plan has even more to offer. It isn’t just a task list, it’s the foundation for working together, learning together, and understanding the team and company culture. As mentioned above, at Atlassian we don’t view someone’s first 90 days as a trial period or proving ground. To the contrary, 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 – not less so. Which is to say, don’t overwhelm your newbies.
Regular check-ins, honest feedback (about systems, company habits, points of uncertainty), and the support of learning (and failing), set the groundwork for open communication. This is the bedrock of trust, which should underpin all team and company interactions.