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The Best 30 60 90 Day Plans Have These 5 Things in Common

The Best 30 60 90 Day Plans Have These 5 Things Image

Well-crafted 30 60 90 day plans are a must-have tool in any leader's toolkit, but they are especially important for first-time managers and here’s why:

Good 30 60 90 day plans put boosters on your efforts to build rapport, earn your boss’ trust, and build your own self-confidence – all factors that are critical to a successful first year in leadership. So-so plans, don't do these things.

The best 30 60 90 day plans function like a road map to success - and they happen to have five things in common. 

In this post, we cover these five things in detail and offer strategies for how to integrate them into your 90 day plan.

TIP: If you’re in a pinch for time, you can use the 'quick navigation' below to skip to a specific strategy. 

1. The “New York Minute” Concept

Ever heard the expression, “In a New York Minute”?

It means fast, hurried, instant. It reflects a non-New Yorker’s view of the pace of life in The City That Never Sleeps.

Especially during those first 90 days, being a first-time manager is a lot like experiencing New York City as a non-New Yorker.

New manager minutes? They are New York minutes.

Your 30 60 90 Day Plan needs to reflect that. Here's how:

3 Ways to Account for New York Minutes in 30 60 90 Day Plans

1.

Take a "What's New?" Inventory

2.

Get (Time-Stamped) Receipts

3.

Don't Start Your 30 60 90 Day Plan on Day 1

Let's take a look at each of these in more detail.

1. Take a "What's New?" Inventory

What causes the new manager time warp?

It’s the newness. 

New managers don’t can't just ‘get to work’. In the way of accomplishing actual things are: tasks they don’t know how to complete, situations they don’t know what to do about, and tools and resources they don’t know how to use yet.

The extra time spent closing these knowledge gaps and cleaning up after minor snafus (courtesy of knowledge gaps) is what causes time to fly while you accomplish…very, very little.

Specifically, new managers have the following working against them when it comes to creating a 30-60-90 day plan with an accurate, realistic timeline:

  • Lack of familiarity with priority processes and job functions.
  • Lack of familiarity with tools and resources.
  • Lack of familiarity with your team’s use of time and how long it takes to get certain tasks done.

You can use the three bullet points above to take an inventory of newness-based limitations. Bullet-by-bullet, here’s what that process looks like:

Lack of familiarity with priority processes and job functions.

This looks like a shortlist of your top three priority processes and/or job functions.

Don’t know what your top three priority processes or job functions are?

That’s okay! You have two excellent resources for finding out.

First, your manager. Book a 30-minute session on his or her calendar. Bring your job description or any notes from your interview to the meeting, if you think it might help. Ask your manager to pinpoint which three processes or job functions he or she would like you to become an expert in within the next 90 days. If s/he points out five or six items, say this: “Great. This helpful. Is it possible to rank these in priority order?” Give most consideration to the top three.

Second, your team. Either in one-on-one sessions or during a group meeting, ask your team to share their perspective on what they need you to learn in the near-term in order for the department to run smoothly.

Spend some time with your notes from the input from your boss and team, then, use your best judgment to make your shortlist of top three priority processes and/or functions.

Lack of familiarity with tools and resources.

This looks like a list of the tools and resources that your department uses, but you are not familiar with.

By tools and resources I mean everything from software to hardware to third-party services.

Two resources you can use to begin your inventory include your team and your IT department.

Ask your team which tools they use get their work done: desktops, laptops, mobile phones, printers, copiers, Microsoft Office Suite, Adobe Creative Cloud, Slack, Concur, Asana, Trello, etc. Also ask for a list of consultants the department works with and the services they provide. You’ll also want to ask your team how often each tool is used. Daily? Weekly? Once a quarter? Etc.

If they haven’t already, ask your IT department to connect you with the same access and user rights to all platforms your predecessor used. If your team overlooked any platforms, add them to your inventory.

Look at the list you created with insight from your team and IT. Place a star next to the tools and resources you are not familiar with. Your list of starred items becomes your shortlist of ‘need to know ASAP’ tools and resources.

TIP: Factor frequency-of-use into how you prioritize what to learn and in what order. In terms of time management, you’ll want to get schooled on tools and resources you use most often first.

Lack of familiarity with your team’s use of time and how long it takes to get certain tasks done.

This part of your inventory looks like a list of your team members, their years of experience, their main responsibilities, and a rough estimate of how they spend their time each week.

Your go-to resource for this part of your “What’s New” inventory if, of course, your team.

In a series of one-on-one sessions with each team member, get answers to the following questions:

  1. 1
    What's your title?
  2. 2
    How long have you been with the company?
  3. 3
    How many years of experience do you have in this field or function?
  4. 4
    What are your priority processes and main job functions?
  5. 5
    Roughly what percent of your 40-hour week do you spend working on each function?

You might find that your team members can easily answer Questions 1-4, but struggle with percentage of time spent by task. That’s okay. We’ve got a few more options for pinpointing tasks and how long it takes to get them done in our next strategy for accounting for New York Minutes in a 30 60 90 Day Plan.

Why it's so important to Take a "What's New?" Inventory:

When you know what’s working against you, you can make a plan for overcoming it.

Be very, very specific when creating this inventory. List specific processes, functions, and tools. Name team members, etc.

The Best 30 60 90 Day Plans Have 5 Things INFOGR2

2. Get (Time-Stamped) Receipts

Another way to get a better grip on the oh-so-slippery New Manager/New York Minute is to collect time-stamped ‘receipts’.

You know what a receipt is in the traditional sense. At work, the term ‘receipt’ takes on a broader scope. Work receipts look like:

Old Gantt Charts

A Gantt Chart is a timeline typically presented in bar chart format that is used to plan, coordinate, and track specific tasks in a project. Tried? A little. True? Gantt charts have been used in project management...since the 1910s. It's possible your predecessor used them and left some behind or with your team members.

Presentations that summarize competed projects

Often times, presentations are created to share project details - including scope and timeline - with other departments.

Proposals, quotes and contracts from consultants

When third-parties want your business, they put together nice proposals detailing the scope of work they intend to complete for you, how quickly they intend to do it, and how much it will cost you.

Team member reviews

Your team members' past reviews should have insights into their annual project flow, accomplishments, and ‘misses’.

Taking a few days to collect these items - and study them! – is a super effective way to ensure that you don’t under or overestimate what can realistically be accomplished in a 30, 60 or 90-day time period.

Why it's so important to Get Time-Stamped Receipts:

Having a historical record of how long it actually takes to get things done helps you not only manage your boss’ expectations of you, but also your expectations of your team.

3. Don’t Start Your 30-60-90 Day Plans on Day 1

Our final strategy for planning for the lightning quick pace of a first 90 days in a new management role is to fight the urge to start Day 1 of your 90-Day plan on Day 1 in our new role.

Or on Day Two.

Or on Day Three.

The truth is, I don’t believe first-time managers can come up with good 30 60 90 day plans within their first few weeks on the job.

I do believe they can come up with a rock-solid Research and Discovery Plan that will help lay a solid foundation of success not just for the first three months, but for the entire first year in their leadership role.

Your “What’s New?” inventory and receipt-collecting exercises are two examples of specific tasks to include in your Research and Discovery Plan.

You can find lots more detail on why good 30-60-90 day plans begin with Research and Discovery as well as more examples of specific Research and Discovery tasks in our post, "How to Structure a Powerful 30-60-90 Day Plan".

Why it's so important to Not to Start Producing on Day 1:

If you cannot resist the urge to start ‘producing’ on Day 1, you will quickly find yourself behind on your 30-60-90 Day Plan and your team at-risk of overwhelm.

New manager minutes are 'New York Minutes'. Here's how to account for the new gig 'time warp' in your 30-60-90 Day Plan.

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2. A Map of Roadblocks

One of the most effective ways to fail-proof your 30-60-90 day plan is to make predictions about when and where you’re most likely to get tripped up.

This is easier than it sounds.

In fact, you’ve already got a list of well-informed predictions in the form of your “What’s New?” inventory. It’s really easy to trip over a knowledge gap. Thankfully, you now know where several of them ‘are’, which means you can build bridges over them.

Knowledge gaps aren’t the only speed bumps out there.

Before finalizing your 30-60-90 Day Plan, I recommend you look at your milestones for each thirty-day time period and, with your team, brainstorm the potential roadblocks that might prevent you from achieving them.

Here’s exactly how to do this:

  1. 1
    Gather your team together.
  2. 2
    Have someone write your 30-day milestones up on a white board.
  3. 3
    Milestone-by-milestone, brainstorm exactly what you need to meet it. Help your team conceptualize and pinpoint needs by asking them for input on the following specific categories:
Roadblock Category 1

Time

How many man- and woman-hours are needed to complete identified tasks for the next thirty days?

Roadblock Category 2

Tools

Does everybody feel proficient in all tools and resources?

Roadblock Category 3

Personnel

Are we optimizing our allocation of team member skill sets?

Roadblock Category 4

Budget

Are we optimizing our allocation of team member skill sets?

At this point, you can also ask for suggestions on how inadequate resources might be addressed. For example...

...if it looks like man-hours are going to be an issue, can you start cross-training an employee or reach out to a temp agency now?

When you are done with this process, you will have categorized collections of potential roadblocks mapped out against your 90-day timeline.

Pay very close attention to what your team has to say here. Acting on their insight will serve you well not just in terms of ensuring your 30-60-90 Day Plan goes to plan, but also in building rapport.

Why it's so important to Map Out Roadblocks:

A proactive approach to identifying potential issues ensures that hiccups are detours, not derails.

3. Team Goals and Milestones that Make a Habit of Success

Stretch goals. Big Hairy Audacious Goals (BHAGs). Pipe dreams. Air castles. Moon challenges.

Big goals get all the glory…and super fun names. There's a wild irony about big goals, though. Setting them can actually prevent you from achieving them.

While we might think that big-time victories bring next-level success and happiness, experts in the fields of psychiatry, behavioral therapy, and organizational theory have found that "smaller" accomplishments have greater - and longer lasting - impact on our lives.

As it turns out, when it comes to achieving goals, the “small win” is a pretty big deal.

Human beings respond well to smaller-scale goals because they offer two things we are really into:

- control and

- positive feedback

Here’s what you need to know about this positive feedback loop:

Even accomplishments that seem ‘insignificant’ are enough to jump-start the reward circuitry in the brain.

This means, the quicker your team can help your team pull down wins, the sooner you’ll help them develop that positive feedback loop.

What's the actionable learning lesson for 30 60 90 day plans?

At the heart of good 30 60 90 day plans is a set of 3-5 meaningful goals. When setting those goals, keep this ‘small wins’ concept in mind.

30 60 90 day plans should tee up a series of mini-accomplishments and milestones that allow team members to continually hit the “repeat” button on their positive feedback loop. This works wonders on their individual confidence and on your team’s morale as a whole.

How big is a 'small' win? How 'mini' is a mini-accomplishment?

My short answer is this: a small win is a goal that can be achieved using only existing tools and resources within 90 days.

Those looking for a better (longer) answer with specific examples of small wins goals can find it in How to Set Team Goals that Inspire Success. Step-by-step, that post will walk you through the complete process of right-sizing your 90-day goals.

Why it's so important to set Team Goals and Milestones that Make a Habit of Success:

Sustainable success is made up of small habits, decisions, tasks, and activities that close knowledge or resource gaps, that sharpen skills, that open new doors, and that build capacity for a tougher challenge the next go ‘round. Choose the small win strategy as your approach to 30-60-90 day goals (and milestones) and, all at once, you’ll be:


- managing your team’s stress levels so that they can perform at their peak,

- jump-starting a positive feedback loop that will boost confidence and morale,

- consistently creating collections of potential goal ideas for this quarter and those that follow.


This strategy helps fail-proof this round of 90-day goals and every round after.

4. Flexibility over Rigidity

Should 30 60 90 day plans serve as well-crafted courses of action that guide a team’s focus and energy through the next 90 days?

Absolutely!

Should you grip white-knuckled to it come hell, high-water or roadblock?

Absolutely not.

Rigidly executing your plan because it’s "The Plan" is not a fail-proof way to reach your goals. In fact, it’s a sure-fire way to lose the confidence of your team and in yourself. Frankly, refusing to make needed adjustments is an amateur move.

When do you need to make adjustments to your 30 60 90 day plan?

When you’re running low on ‘provisions’.

When you receive new information.

When you’re not ‘on pace’ with milestones.

When the quality of your deliverables is inadequate.

What do adjustments to 30 60 90 day plans look like?

Reallocating resources.

On-boarding new resources.

Adjusting task scopes and timelines.

When shouldn't you be flexible with your 30 60 90 day plan?

When you and your team have all the resources you need to produce quality deliverables, but you aren’t, something does need tweaking, but it’s not your 30 60 90 day plan.

If you have what you need to succeed, but you’re not experiencing success, something else is going on.

“Something else” could be one or more of the following:

  • A morale issue at the team or individual level
  • A communication issue
  • A strategy issue

In this situation, you’ll have to spend some time with your team to pinpoint the issue.

With respect to your 30 60 90 day plan, leave it be. Let the team experience a ‘miss’. At the end of the 90-day period, have an honest and open discussion about the efforts over the past three months and the resulting gap between the intended goal and actual outcome.

Why it's so important to choose Flexibility over Rigidity:

Things that get carved in stone get outdated. If you cannot adjust your proverbial sails when the proverbial winds change, you decrease your likelihood of getting anywhere worth getting or getting anywhere at all.

Here's when you should make adjustments to your 30-60-90-Day Plan...and when you shouldn't. | The Best 30 60 90 Day Plans Have These 5 Things in Common.

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5. A Built-in Communication Plan

Without this final strategy, it’s not possible to execute the previous four.

You need input from your boss and your team to:

  • complete your “What’s New? Inventory”
  • brainstorm road blocks and map out ‘when and where’ they are most likely to occur
  • identify the set of 3-5 goals that means something to your team and what ‘size’ they should be to jump-start a winning habit
  • understanding when adjustments need to be made to the plan and when they shouldn’t be made to the plan

Notice that this strategy is about making communication part of the plan. This means, it’s not enough to tell your team that they can 'come to you any time' or that you 'have an open-door policy'. This means, you need to set the expectation that consistent communication about the plan is part of plan.

How do you set the expectation that consistent communication about the plan is part of the plan?

You do this by pre-booking meetings and appointments in your and your team members’ calendars for the following events:

  • What’s New Inventory Meeting with Boss
  • What’s New Inventory Meeting with Team – Group Meeting
  • What’s New Inventory Meeting with IT
  • What’s New Inventory Meeting with Team – One-on-One Sessions
  • Mapping Roadblocks with Team Session 1
  • Mapping Roadblocks with Team Session 2
  • Once-a-Week or Once-Every-Two-Weeks Check-in Meetings for Flexibility vs. Rigidity Input
  • 30-Day Milestone Meeting Assessment6
  • 60-Day Milestone Meeting Assessment
  • 90-Day Final Goal Meeting Assessment

Your recurring Once-a-Week or Once-Every-Two-Weeks meetings and your 30-Day and 60-Day meetings are designed to help everyone stay aware of what’s going smoothly and what isn’t.

During these sessions, ask about the adequacy of resources using the specific terms of time, tools, budget, and personnel and ask for specific examples of existing and anticipated hiccups and snags.

By getting these events on the books, you’re giving communication a time, a place, and visibility, which means it’s actually going to happen.

Why it's so important to Build Communication into the Plan:

Proactive communication is the least disruptive way to find out what you didn’t know you needed to know.

RECAP: What the Best 30 60 90 Day Plans have in Common 

A well-crafted 30-60-90 day plan is an especially important tool for new managers.

The best 90-day plans provide laser-like focus on priorities and a clear course of action that optimizes finite resources like time, money, and talent. You can put boosters on your efforts to build rapport, earn your boss’ trust, and build your own self-confidence by integrating the following five fail-proofers into your 30-60-90 day plan.

Best 30 60 90 Day Plans Strategy 1

The 'New York Minute' Concept

You are new. Time-wise, this is going to cost you. If you don’t factor the learning curve into your concept of time, you will quickly find yourself behind on your 30-60-90 Day Plan and your team at-risk of overwhelm.

Best 30 60 90 Day Plans Strategy 2

A Map of Roadblocks

A proactive approach to identifying potential issues ensures that hiccups are detours, not derails.

Best 30 60 90 Day Plans Strategy 3

Team Goals and Milestones that Make a Habit of Success

Sustainable success is made up of small habits, decisions, tasks, and activities that close knowledge or resource gaps, that sharpen skills, that open new doors, and that build capacity for a tougher challenge the next go ‘round. This strategy helps fail-proof this round of 90-day goals and every round after.

Best 30 60 90 Day Plans Strategy 4

Flexibility over Rigidity

Things that get carved in stone get outdated. If you cannot adjust your proverbial sails when the proverbial winds change, you decrease your likelihood of getting anywhere worth getting or getting anywhere at all

Best 30 60 90 Day Plans Strategy 5

A Built-in Communication Plan

Proactive communication is the least disruptive way to find out what you didn’t know you needed to know.

Now that you’ve picked up these five fail-proofing strategies and placed them in your toolkit, you’re ready to start building your 30 60 90 day plan. And, we've got just the tool to help!

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