Shared Expectations: The Missing Link in New Hire Onboarding

Think about the last time you made an important hire that didn’t work out.

You likely made the offer with great enthusiasm, and full of optimism for the value that this new hire could deliver to your company. They accepted the job with a similar mindset: excited for the potential to do great work and optimistic that they were joining the right company at the right time.  However, a few short months into the relationship, frustrations start to mount on both sides.  You, as the manager, begin to feel like your new hire is missing the mark.  The new hire develops this creeping sense of dread that they’re much less successful in your eyes (and theirs) than they’d like to be, and everyone starts to worry that things might not work out.  Six months from their start date, and the only question on your mind is how – not if – you’re going to to exit this person from the business.

The most common issue facing new hires in any organization is that their manager hasn’t clearly defined his or her expectations for their first ninety days on the job.  While one hundred percent accuracy with your hiring decisions is impossible, failing to set defined goals and outcomes at the onset of a new employee’s tenure dramatically increases the likelihood that a high-potential hire will fail.

Setting and confirming expectations with your new hire is a process that should begin before you make the offer to join your organization.  My preferred approach is to use the framework of the “30-60-90 Day Plan.” With this framework, you’re asking yourself the following questions: “What will this new hire need to achieve in their first 30 days in order for me to feel like I’ve made hired the right person for the job?  What needs to happen at 60 days?  At 90?”

For a sales role, a 30-60-90 day plan might look something like this:

By Day 30:

  • Complete company CRM training/certification
  • Complete our sales training certification, and demonstrate the ability to deliver a full product demonstration via screen share
  • Be able to recite the company’s Core Values and explain the meaning of each
  • Be able to deliver our “30 Second Elevator Pitch” on request
  • Shadow a minimum of 10 online sales demonstrations with live prospects

By Day 60:

  • Be making an average of 30 outbound dials each day
  • Set an average of one new demo appointment per day
  • Run your first live prospect demonstration with a Sales Manager shadowing the call
  • Discuss your first live demo with your Sales Manager, and review the Demo Feedback report with your Sales Manager

By Day 90:

  • Be making an average of 60 outbound dials each day from your own CRM account and lead list
  • Set an average of two new demo appointments per day
  • Run a minimum of four live prospect demonstrations with a Sales Manager shadowing the call
  • Create and deliver a minimum of two Customer Proposals (quotations) through the CRM system
  • Pass all of our internal training and certification steps
  • Have your manager report that you are cleared to operate on your own beginning on Day 91

What do you notice about this example 30-60-90 Day Plan?  First and foremost, the plan lays out specific, measurable outcomes that must be achieved at certain points in time.  Rather than relying on emotions to determine whether or not the new hire is working out, i.e. “I think she’s doing well so far,” this plan dictate exactly what needs to happen from the company’s perspective.  Second, the plan puts a time stamp on everything; not only does it lay out the outcomes that must be reached, it also defines when those outcomes must be reached.

I recommend that you create a 30-60-90 Day Plan for every role in your organization where new hires are being made, and review this plan with each final candidate prior to the job offer.  The conversation follows the following script:

We’re really excited about the prospect of your joining our organization. Before we move forward with an offer, I’d like to step through my expectations for your first ninety days, and get your feedback on whether or not you think these expectations are achievable.  Sound good?”

At the end of the review, simply ask:

Based on what we’ve just discussed, is there anything in this plan that you feel needs more clarification, or that makes you uncomfortable?”

After the prospective new hire has bought into the plan, you’ve just taken all of the guesswork out of the onboarding process.  They know exactly what’s expected of them, and you now have a performance barometer that you can employ to take the emotion out of the process and ensure that you’re monitoring the right things.

High-potential new hires are eager to dig in and perform for your organization.  Unless you define what success looks like on the front end, it’s nearly impossible for them to know how to measure their own progress against your expectations.  By creating shared expectations using a 30-60-90 Day Plan, you link their potential with the company’s needs and can make rational assessments about how they’re performing.

Download a free 30-60-90 day plan template here!