A 30-60-90 Day Plan For New Leaders
August 9, 2016
Author of The UPwards Leader
TopicsLeadership, Organizational Development, Transitions
Leaders new to a team have the unenviable task of getting results, building trust and establishing credibility. All the while they are learning their new role, and possibly even a new company.
For some leaders, doing one or the other is attainable, but doing all simultaneously can be a daunting task. It can be a delicate balance at times, and giving attention to everything at once can be a bit overwhelming.
Whether the leader is brand new to leadership, or new to their team, or is a seasoned leader in a new company, the ability to quickly establish change can make or break the leader as well as their teams, and possibly the organization.
I have realized over the years that the most effective way for a leader to create results and build culture is to adopt a rolling focus, 30-60-90 day game plan. Here it is in simplified form:
First 30 Days - Focus on People & Culture
During this time you should make every effort to connect with as many people in your company as you can. At the same time, immerse yourself into the company culture: values, mission, goals, and current (if any) strategic plans. You want to find out who your people are, what strengths they bring to the team, and how aligned they are with the company culture. At the same time, you will be promoting the culture and re-establishing everyone's belief in the organization and where it's headed. Getting everyone connected to yourself, and more importantly to the greater vision and mission is the primary objective in the first 30 days.
Next 30 Days (30-60) - Build The Brand
As you are laying the foundation of culture among your people, you'll be seeing how things operate and looking for ways to execute flawlessly. Brands are built internally first, by insuring the business model and daily operations support the culture and effectively serve your clients and customers. Take this time to really focus on training, procedural simplification, process improvement, and other efficiencies that will make your brand more consistent and reliable. The best marketing campaign for any company is wasted money if the service cannot be relied upon.
Final Stretch (60-90 Days) - Profitable or Sustainable Growth
Now is the time to plan marketing, strategic growth and revenue opportunities. By this time you have started a trajectory that will enable you to capitalize on the work done thus far. Now you can confidently say your products are better than the competition because of the attention to quality. You can promote best-in-class service because your people are engaged. And you can find new methods to increase top-line revenue and control your costs that will allow the organization to fund new initiatives, hire more people, and impact more customers.
These 30-day increments are designed to make the most of the foundation needs of the organization before moving on to the next phases. That doesn't mean in the first 30 days you won't need to worry about operations or profit & loss (these are daily focuses from the first day). But you'll need to make the concerted effort to enhance the culture, then the brand, then the growth that will become the springboard for change and results. And through this 30/60/90 day cycle, you'll see results in your metrics at the end of each month that will show how effective this approach can be.
Many new leaders have a 3-month, 6-month, and first-year game plan to create impact in their new role. But in our faster world, you'll need to set up a way to hit the foundational touch-points both quickly and solidly. Set the ripple effect from Day 1 that allows culture and people to permeate operations and ripples through sustained results and future growth for your organization.
Very good Paul — many leaders take the first 30 day recommendation for granted, not seeing the valuable and substantial return on investment of time and energy. Trust, respect, and rapport where one can influence is essential to achieving everything else. The trust is crucial in that when there is new leadership, fear is a natural emotion that is present and which clouds activity/productivity. Mitigate fear with actively building a trusting rapport. Bottom line, each team member needs reassurance that they will be respected and appreciated.
You’re right, JoAnn, in your assessments. It always starts with people!! I’ve seen many leaders lose trust in those first days and never recover.
I enjoyed your article and believe that you covered important points at a very high level. Structuring meet and greets in the first 30 days with key stakeholders and leaders in an organization should be something that the new leader approaches as a structured interview style. It has helped me in several situations especially in complex, highly matrixed organizations. The other important thing that the new leader should remember is to trust their gut. Trust but verify should be a 60 day assignment.
Thanks for taking the time to write down a template.
You’re welcome Karen. Thank you!
I enjoyed your article a lot! I have made the mistake in the past of not spending enough time learning about the people first before the processes. As I am a stickler for details when you are talking 30 days, are you referring to working days only? When I hear someone talk about months we are talking about as few as 21 working days in February. I mention this because of the fast paced world we live in. Thanks!
The 30 day increments are month periods. I use that to help people see at least 2 months of performance. The 30 days in itself is not a hard and fast tiemframe, but due to measurable timeframes most people want ro see what the initla impact is.
The most important thing Gary, is to focus on the growing layers of foundation and not on the number of days. Be flexible but use the guideline to guide success.
Best to you!
Good article and thanks for sharing. I like the ideas of focusing on people and culture during the first period and building the brand during the second period. Knowing the people and understanding the culture of an organization are critical in my view to expanding on the brand (assuming one exists already). Leveraging off of the knowledge and experience of the people and the legacy of culture can be a powerful combination to gain trust and inspire others during change in my view. My thoughts on the third period is that this is the time to plan for profitability and sustainable growth by capitalizing on the work done thus far as you well put it. I agree that it is important to set a faster pace in today’s business environment and most important that a leader has a plan of action that can communicate a vision and act as a reference during the process. A clear and concise vision and a plan to achieve helps to respect others, build confidence, and in many ways binds the organization together in terms of collaboration and innovation in my opinion.
Thank you so much, Ray! Yes we need a faster pace to get established by in today’s environment. Glad you found the ideas relevant and best of success to you!
As previously mentioned in a comment by Karen, meeting with key stakeholders is critical. I also believe that meeting those on the “front line” is equally as important. Understanding the vibe on the manufacturing floor or in the trenches of any department offers a fantastic opportunity to just understand the culture, but to build trust at that base level. Nothing creates as positive a “buzz” as when employees feel truly listened to from the higher-ups.
Absolutely Cheryl! It is so essential to start the right culture from day one. Building your team by meeting your team is the key way to lay that foundation.
Thanks Paul for this insights.
One additional element I have found to be crucial is to allow people to understand who I am and what my values and goals are for the organization. Early in my career I was installed to lead a struggling NJ-based organization that was reeling from 9/11 and the sudden removal of their patriarchal President. I had been brought in from Asia on an internal transfer but few people knew me. The very first thing I did was have a town hall meeting explaining who I was, what I believed in and what I knew we could accomplish. That set the tone and then I got to know everyone. They trusted me. It worked a treat and we became the most profitable region globally in 9 months.
Craig, you truly exemplified the “people and culture” part of the first 30 days. Great job!
This is an excellent article.
I wish I had read your article prior to starting with the organization that I’ve been working with for exactly one year. I did my observations, etc., and after the one year, staff reverted back to old behaviors and I was asked to prepare a 90 day Leadership Plan.
Excellent article, especially a clear theme for each 30 day concept plan. I feel your defining theme relates quite well with the team development principles – form (people and culture), storm (building brand), perform and transform (sustainable growth). Thank you Paul for sharing your thoughts and ideas.