Why you need a 30 60 90 day plan
Along with your resume and cover letters, you need a 90 day success plan ready before you even start your job search. Some hiring managers move fast and you may not have the time to do your plan justice if you haven't at least got a draft completed.
A thoughtful 30 60 90 day plan will impress everyone you meet during the job interview process, and your new manager will breathe a huge sigh of relief, knowing you're prepared and ready to take responsibility for your own onboarding.
And when you get the job, a 90 day success plan ensures you hit the ground running by focusing on the right priorities, tracking progress and measuring results so you stand on your own two feet as soon as possible.
Create two versions:
- 30 60 90 day plan presentation. Summarise how you'll get up to speed in the role over the course of your first 3 months. Present your plan over three slides - one for each month. I like to include a visual CV as well. This is great for job interviews.
- 30 60 90 day project plan. A detailed list of all the activities you need to do to get settled into your new account management role, grouped into 30 day periods. The rest of this article will explain how, so read on.
You never get a second chance to make a first impression.
Yes. People will judge you. Opinions (right or wrong) are formed about your effectiveness from day one.
First impressions stick, and if you shine, you'll find yourself on the fast track to success. But if you fail to impress, then doubts about your abilities may follow you around like a dark cloud.
A 90 day plan will make sure you get the kind of results that leave no doubt in anyone's mind they made the right decision to hire you.
Things to remember when you start a new job
No matter how experienced you are, leaving the familiarity of your old job to take on a new role can lead to some butterflies. It's normal.
You've got this. Your new employer wouldn't have hired you if they didn't believe in you. But it's important to acknowledge there may be some challenges and to take time to think about how you might handle them:
- Is the job in a new industry or one that you're already familiar with?
- Are you moving to a new organisation or a new business unit in the same company?
- If it's an internal move, will you have to juggle two jobs because you have to help out in your old role while starting the new one? Or will you make a clean break?
- If you've been promoted, how will your peers react? Did anyone apply for your job who will now report to you?
- Are you moving to account management from a different profession? Are there skills or competency gaps you need to close?
- Are you inheriting the account management role, or is it a new position? Will you need to define new processes and systems, or are they already established?
Remember, there is nothing you cannot overcome with preparation and perseverance.
Treat your boss like a client
Your manager hired you. They can help you get things done. They are your advocate to the wider business. And they approve the promotions, the pay rises and the bonuses.
So treat your manager like you would your very best client. What's important to them is now your top priority. And to be honest, your life will be a lot easier if you keep following that advice well beyond your first 3 months.
On your first day, invite your boss to a recurring meeting to discuss your 90 day plan. It should be monthly at a minimum. While the focus is your performance, use the time to also learn more about your manager:
- How do they like to interact?
- What are their expectations of you?
- What are their roles and responsibilities?
- What are their most significant priorities right now?
- Is there anything you can help them with?
Keep an eye on who they have relationships with and get to know them too. People will talk about you when you first start, and you want the news to be good.
Importantly, continue to clarify. You're expected to ask questions when you're new, so don't be shy about it.
If there's anything you're not comfortable with, speak up.
Review the job description
The first place to start is to review the job description and highlight the main responsibilities. That way you won't miss any important requirements in your 90 day plan and ensure you use the right terminology rather than generic objectives and results. For example don't say "meet with key stakeholders" when the job description has identified who those stakeholders are and you can say "meet with Product Management and Technical" instead.
Below is the job description for a Senior Key Account Manager at Amazon, advertised in July 2020. You can see the terms I've highlighted:
- Partner with Product Management and Tech.
- Create an account management strategy.
- Product adoption goals.
- Develop relationships across functional areas such as Business, Operations, Procurement, Finance and IT.
- Drive revenue, adoption and market share.
- Measure performance.
- Find opportunities to automate and scale processes in account management.
- Relay market needs and requirements to Product Management and Technical.
- Create program goals and related metrics.
- Drive best practices for using our product.
- Liaise with technical integration teams.
- Assess program risks.
See how easy that was?
The job description will do most of the work for you. Simply populate it with the responsibilities you think are important and tweak them as needed to reflect the fact that you're new and learning. For example it's unlikely you'll be in a position to drive best practices until you understand what they are.
A 30 60 90 day plan for key account managers
Your 3 month success plan is grouped into 30 day periods. Each has very specific activities and outcomes that move you quickly from making a negative value contribution to a positive one.
- Week 1. Set up your workspace, confirm roles, responsibilities and expectations.
- 1 to 30 days. Get up to speed, take charge of your clients and establish credibility.
- 31 to 60 days. Grow your influence, develop your strategy and secure small wins.
- 61 to 90 days. Add value and build momentum that will sustain you for the next 3 months.
In addition, every 30 days, you'll commit to achieve five milestone goals - one for each of the following:
- Learning goals. Actions you'll take to address a skill or knowledge gap.
- People goals. Steps you'll take to grow and engage your internal and external networks.
- Performance goals. Short-term objectives related to your current duties and aligned with overall company goals.
- Client goals. Activities that get your clients closer to their business goals.
- Personal goals. Anything that will make you a better version of you.
Milestone goals represent a significant stage in your development so don't take the easy route. The more challenging the goals are, the more satisfying it will be when you achieve them. And be sure they're SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timebound).
This is an excellent habit to get into anyway because it's so easy to be distracted by what's urgent at the expense of what's important. Setting milestone goals keeps you focused on your professional development, continuous improvement and ensures you'll have an outstanding record of achievement to showcase to your leaders and recruiters!
1 to 30 days: meet, learn and understand
Your goal in the first 30 days is to become as independent as possible and prioritise stability for your clients and your internal teams. Meet critical stakeholders, learn as much as you can and understand the priorities of your organisation and your new clients.
Meet: Stakeholder relationships
Ask your boss, who you need to know. Schedule early introductory meetings with stakeholders - internal, external, vertical and lateral - to understand requirements.
Create a set of questions you'd like to know the answer to and ask the same set of questions of everyone. You'll get a much better sense of what's going on if you do.
- How the organisation has performed.
- Have goals been achieved? Why or why not?
- What changes have happened, why, and who was involved?
- What's the company's vision, and is it on track?
- Who has influence?
- What processes do you need to know?
- Are there any issues you should know about or things to avoid?
- What challenges is the organisation facing, and how is it preparing for them?
- If you could wave a wand and fix one thing - what would it be?
- What's the best thing about the organisation?
- What's something you think needs to change?
- What are your priorities right now?
- If you were me, where do you think I should focus?
Customise these depending on who you're talking to (for example, sales will have more competitor insights than operations).
All you need to do is listen and reflect on what you've learned. Think about who has influence and which relationships you need to nurture to build alliances that will help you later.
Learn & understand: Transform information to knowledge
Find out everything you can about your organisation and your clients. Consider the implications of what you discover. How will it impact how you do your job or where you focus? Are there any missed opportunities or potential risks?
- Review your company's past performance, vision and strategy.
- Understand the value proposition, competitive landscape and operating environment.
- Focus on technical learning (systems, capabilities and processes).
- Understand how the organisation works and what it takes to get things done.
- Read the CRM. Pay special attention to critical contacts, meeting history, minutes and any handover notes.
- Review the current contract, especially terms and conditions, exit clauses and extensions.
- Take a look at the last 12 months of business reviews. What trends do you see?
- How well are you meeting key performance indicators and service level agreements?
- Are there any clients at significant risk due to contract expiry, technical or service issues?
30 Day Checklist
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30 to 60 days: strategy and planning
Each month begins with a review of the last 30 days and set your five professional goals. By now the training wheels are off - even if a little shaky. You should have enough information to assess customer risks, identify opportunities and create strategies to address them.
Diagnosis: time for a health check
Invest time in client research. Not just their history with you, but their:
- internal capabilities
- vision and values
- mission, vision, values and lots more.
Educate yourself to become an expert at that point where your industry and your clients industries intersect. Be crystal clear why your clients use came to you for a solution and why they should stay.
Review your core processes and if you don't have them already, develop process maps to understand workflows.
The point of all this is to identify gaps, remove risks and bring stability to your clients and your internal teams.
Only then you can focus on opportunities to create value, optimise customer experience and grow revenue.
Strategy: Deciding what not to do
Now it's time to distil everything you've learned into a plan that drives operational and organisational action.
First, follow this simple 5-step process to develop your strategy.
- Where are we?
- Where do we want to go?
- What changes have to be made?
- How should changes be made?
- How will progress be measured?
Save the infographic above as a handy reminder.
Then create a simple one-page account plan to define your objectives, set your goals and identify the actions you'll take to achieve them.
Do that and there will literally be no stopping you.
60 Day Checklist
60 to 90 days: add value
You're into the home stretch. For the final 30 days of the plan you need to deliver results and build momentum that will sustain you long into the future.
You will soon have your final meeting with your boss to decide if you've passed your probationary period. So don't take the foot of the gas now. Seek opportunities for early wins that make a meaningful impact, encourage important behaviours and that are clearly linked to actions you have taken.
At the end of your first 90 days you want to present a list of accomplishments to your boss that demonstrate you have initiative, are aligned with organisational goals and results driven.
Of course you'll have lots of plans in motion and not everything will be done. That's OK. And expected.
All you need are a couple of small successes. It might be some inefficient process you've resolved. Or a long standing customer complaint that you've fixed. Or a meeting with a c-level executive that has been avoiding your company.
Showcase the results your proudest of.
By now you should know who's who in the zoo and have a point of view on who has power and influence (they're the people who will help you get things done).
Don't make the mistake (like I often have) of only hanging out with the people you like.
Map out the critical internal relationships based on qualities like expertise, control of information, networks, access to resources. Ask yourself how you might earn their support, and what resistance you might encounter?
How to Build Your Network by Harvard Business Review is a great article to help you identify and nurture your internal networks.
Reflect and refine
Review and refresh plans to respond to surprises and new opportunities. Questions to ask yourself:
- How do you feel? Is the role of key account manager living up to your expectations?
- Is there anything troubling you? People you aren't connecting with? Have any meetings raised alarm bells? Policies or strategies you're not comfortable with?
- What's gone well, what hasn't gone well and are there any missed opportunities?
90 Day Checklist
Common mistakes when starting a new job
- Doing what you've always done. A new job brings new opportunities and challenges. Previous success doesn't guarantee future results. Review the job description and decide what you need to stop doing and what you should start doing. This is an opportunity to shake off some of your bad habits or focus on developing new skills.
- Unrealistic expectations. You may be full of enthusiasm and ambition, but don't be too ambitious with your goals. Better to under promise and over deliver in your first 3 months otherwise you'll be overwhelmed which leads to lack of focus, bad decisions and poor results.
- Knowing the answer before understanding the question. Avoid jumping in with solutions to problems without exploring the situation and gaining support for your ideas. You'll come off as a know-it-all and may even offend some people whose views you're unwittingly criticising. I've done this myself many times - quickly giving advice when no-one was asking - and some people never forgave me for it.
- Not putting people first. While it's essential to learn the technical aspects of your new role, make your priority to understand the people, politics and culture of the organisation. Talk to colleagues, peers, leaders and other stakeholders to learn the information you won't find written anywhere, and build relationships that will later (hopefully) become alliances.
Best tools to create your 30 60 90 day plan
The problem with pen and paper is that it's not made for sharing or collaboration. Nor is it the ideal tool for complex, detailed plans with deadlines. So for your 30 60 90 day success plan I strongly urge you to consider a cloud-based project management tool or at the very least, and Excel document. Don't take short cuts - there's simply too much at stake - namely passing your probationary period.
Asana is an app that helps you build project plans, coordinate tasks and hit deadlines. You can set strategic goals, track progress, connect to your calendar and report on progress - all within a beautiful and flexible workspace.
What I like:
- Easily move between list, board and calendar views.
- Create detailed tasks by using sub-tasks, notes, links, comments and attachments. This makes Asana a very powerful all-in-one tool where you can keep everything related to your onboarding in one place.
- Setting due dates and reminders so I don't miss any tasks.
- The dedicated workspace just for files which makes it easy for you to locate any documents you've uploaded.
- The dedicated conversation workspace which makes it easy to collaborate. You could add your manager as collaborator and save a lot of emails by simply using the chat features of Asana.
- The ability to export your plan to a csv file. Which means you can easily import your project into other applications or circulate it as an attachment (note: you'll need to do some minor formatting if you do).
- The price. Asana is FREE for teams of up to 15.
Excel is a great choice for less complex 30 60 90 day plans. The design elements are very flexible and you have complete control over the look and feel. It's also easy. Which means you'll be more likely to use it and half the battle of a 90 day plan is keeping it up to date.
What I love:
- Flexible design options. You can get as creative and as colourful as you like. Conditional formatting takes your layout to the next level and makes it a breeze to get a quick overview of your data and spot important cues (like due dates).
- Everyone has access. There isn't an organisation in the world that doesn't have Excel installed on every desktop and laptop.
- It's easy to embed an excel worksheet across other Microsoft applications like Excel and Word. Copy+Paste works well too, which means it's quick to create presentations.
- Simple to circulate a worksheet by email, either as an attachment or share a view only link.
- The price - £7.99 a month for Microsoft 365 Personal. It includes Excel and other premium apps like Word, Outlook and PowerPoint.
A 30 60 90 day plan is the roadmap to a successful transition from your old job into your new one.
- Define your high level priorities.
- Set specific goals.
- Identify the actions you'll take to achieve them.
- Keep track of your progress.
Stay focused. Plan the work and work the plan. That's all you need to do to quickly maximise your value and earn the trust and respect of colleagues and clients.
I hope this guide to creating 90 day plans for maximum impact helps you survive and thrive in your new account management role. If you'd like assistance with job interview preparation, designing or writing your 30 60 90 day plan, you can book a Career Power Hour with me any time.
Best of luck in your new job. You got this!