Optimize Your Team With The 30-60-90

30-60-90 Day Plan

When the market shifts, everything needs to be re-evaluated and optimized: budgets, lead generation strategies, and even organizational charts. A challenging market is the time to do more with less. You need to be purposeful with your people. Gary Keller and Jay Papasan warn against “cutting the bone along with the fat,” in Think Like a CEO. When you’re optimizing your leverage, don’t grab an axe and start chopping mindlessly. We’d suggest you use the 30-60-90 to help you make decisions.

The 30-60-90 is a proven model that will help you determine whether any position can meet your business needs. The 30-60-90 is a one-page plan consisting of milestones your new hire or employee to hit must hit within their first 30 days, 60 days, and 90 days. This plan allows you see how well someone fits the job description.

Some mistake the 30-60-90 as a tool only to be used during an initial hire. However, job positions naturally shift. Maybe there’s an employee who has really stepped it up during tough times and who is ready to take on a higher role. Perhaps there’s an opportunity to combine redundant roles. These structural changes are essentially the same as hiring someone new.

Instead of allowing lines to be blurred and new roles to be confused, implement a 30-60-90 with every title change you see within your business, or whenever you need to evaluate changes to your organizational chart. Committing to the 30-60-90 will help manage expectations and allow people to smoothly transition into new positions.

Learning, Performing, And Reaching Personal Goals With The 30-60-90

When using the 30-60-90 to onboard someone or move employees into new positions, first make sure that the plan is clear. Everyone should know the big milestones they are working toward and how these impact your business. Then, as you break the 90 days down, create five to ten learning goals, action goals, and personal goals for the position during each 30-day period. Make sure these milestones are quantitative in some form so you can either coach and train or reward solid performances and set higher goals. We like to use the SMART goals guidelines: Make sure they are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Timely.


Think about what training and onboarding will help employees adapt to their roles. While they know what they’re supposed to do, they should still receive an active overview of what the job looks like. If you have seminars, informational sessions, tech training, or anything that they will need to build a strong foundation, make attending these educational sessions part of the 30-60-90.


Your plan should include performance-based milestones for your employees to hit so you can measure their capabilities and assess any gaps in knowledge or training. Whatever initiatives their position includes—better recruiting strategies or designing a newsletter—their plan should have one or two projects in their first 90 days where these goals are the focus. Depending upon how your employee does with completing these projects, you may need to reassess your hire. But chances are you will just need to give some guidance and answer questions. Either way, learning these limitations or skills early and judging performance during tighter markets will help your business run effectively.

Reaching Personal Goals

Ideally, when you’re creating a 30-60-90, you should consider how a role might help an employee achieve their personal goals. A true team focuses on the goals of the whole and the goals of the individual. If someone is not satisfied, they will be harder to retain. When building the 30-60-90, ask your employee what they hope to achieve in this position. What kind of life do they want to create for themselves that they feel this role will help them accomplish? Adding personal touches to the 30-60-90 will help root the position as a well-rounded one and allow employees to thrive at work and in their lives. 

The 30-60-90 In Action

Once you’ve added learning, performing, and personal milestones throughout the 30-60-90, you can take this learning period to the next level by creating a system for feedback and collaboration.

Before You Start

Go over all the milestones and objectives with your hire. You should be on the same page about what is expected at the end of those three months.

The 30

This period should be mostly training and shadowing. If you’re hiring someone to take over a position from someone, have the new employee shadow during the first month. Encourage them to ask questions, get input on a project, and have the old-timer give them a thorough understanding of the job through the eyes of an expert. This when the candidate can soak it all in, take stock of their abilities, and think about how to apply their new knowledge to the role. If the role is entirely new, have the candidate complete as much training as possible. Don’t be afraid to reach out to your network for people who might be able to offer advice to you and your employee.

The 60

For the next thirty days, you will tackle projects together and fill in any learning gaps. The employee should begin to take initiative and work toward the role’s objectives on their own and with your guidance. 

The 90

Finally, the new employee should do the job on their own while you watch them. Think of it as reverse shadowing. You’ll still need to answer questions and provide guidance, but they should be able to perform the core aspects of the job on their own.

Afterward: Evaluate Their Progress 

At day 90, you’ll have a good idea where your employee stands. Because you set measurable goals, you can assess how well they’ve met their milestones and performed their job duties. Let them know where there’s opportunity for growth and your suggestions for how to achieve success. Don’t forget to give them a high-five about what they did well and encourage them to set big goals for the future.

Starting someone in a new role can be nerve wracking and exciting for everyone involved. Creating and implementing a solid 30-60-90 plan will allow you to set the right expectations from the beginning and keep your team, and your business, optimized as you grow.

How has the 30-60-90 helped you during a shift? Let us know on our Facebook page. And for more research and articles, subscribe to our newsletter.

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