Tips for Conducting a 90-Day Discussion with Your New Hire

Congratulations on your new hire! Your next task is to support that promising new employee so they can be the superstar you’ve been waiting for. Research shows that employees who receive effective onboarding are more likely to stay with their organization for longer than three years, and are more engaged and productive. Studies also show that poor onboarding can increase the risk of employee turnover and reduce productivity.

In this series, we bring you ideas, tips, and tools for effective onboarding. Check out the third article of our Onboarding Series, Tips for Conducting a 90-Day Discussion with your New Hire.

It’s been almost three months since your new hire came on board! They seem to be settling in and have been working on their 90-day goals with your coaching and support. There’s no better time to sit down and reflect on how the first few months went and how you (both) see the future evolving.

The 90-day discussion focuses on two key areas:

  1. Provide the opportunity for early performance feedback. By discussing what is going well and what could be better, it serves as an important checkpoint for the new hire on their progress to goals.
  2. Create an open forum for discussion. It offers the new hire a forum to ask questions of their manager regarding expectations, express any concerns they might have, and request resources and support.

Conducting an effective 90-day discussion is a great way to build trust and help your new staff member deliver great outcomes.

Tips to keep in mind:

  • Schedule it up front. Don’t spring it on your new hire. Let them know that their onboarding plan includes a reflection and discussion around the 90-day mark. Ideally, schedule it in their first 2-3 weeks at the organization, and share the template you will be using in one of your onboarding discussions.
  • Keep it simple. Make it as easy as possible for both manager and staff member. The more burdensome it is (multiple forms to fill out, expectation of a full-on performance review, etc), the higher the chances that the 90-day discussion won’t happen. Here’s a simple discussion template to guide your 90-day conversation.
  • Paint an overall picture of their performance. The 90-day discussion isn’t the first time your employee should be hearing from you about what they’re doing well and where they’re struggling. To ensure they succeed, they should be receiving clear and actionable feedback from you on a regular basis. What the 90-day discussion lets you do is paint the broader picture of their success in the role overall to date. Since a new job comes with a lot of uncertainty, this kind of overarching feedback helps the new hire know where they stand and what they can do to be even more successful.
  • Make it a two-way discussion. Create multiple opportunities during the conversation for the staff member to raise their concerns and give you feedback. Similar to our previous point, this shouldn’t be your first time hearing from them about specific concerns or feedback, but it will give you a chance to get their thoughts on any bigger picture issues or concerns.
  • Keep it informal.* If possible, do it over lunch or coffee. You can both come prepared to talk through the key points in the discussion template.

*However, if the staff member is struggling and you believe you are on the verge of a serious performance issue, we urge you to make the 90-day discussion more formal with key points written down. It will help you smoothly move to a Performance Improvement Plan, if it becomes necessary.

Check out the other articles in our Onboarding Series: