After the first three months on the job, your new hire hopefully feels less like a “new hire.” They’ve settled in, tackled a project or two, started building relationships, and have taken ownership of their responsibilities with your coaching and support. They’re probably also coming out of the “honeymoon” period—shifting from observing and learning to doing and improving. It’s time to reflect on how the first few months went and how you (both) see the future evolving.
The 90-day discussion provides a structured opportunity to review progress toward goals, share what’s going well and what could be better (from both of your perspectives), and make commitments for moving forward. When done with intention, it’s a trust-building opportunity that will set you up for long-term success.
Here are some tips for conducting your 90-day discussion:
Ideally, schedule it in their first 2-3 weeks at the organization, and share the template you will use in one of your onboarding discussions.
Keep it simple.
The more burdensome it is (multiple forms to fill out, the expectation of a full-on performance review, etc.), the higher the chances it won’t happen. Here’s a discussion template to guide your 90-day conversation.
Paint an overall picture of their performance.*
The 90-day discussion shouldn’t be the first time they hear from you about what they’re doing well and where they might be struggling. They should receive clear and actionable feedback from you on a regular basis. The 90-day discussion is a chance for you to paint the broader picture of their success and trajectory in the role to date. Since a new job comes with a lot of uncertainty, this kind of overarching feedback helps them know where they stand and what they can do to be even more successful.
Make it a two-way conversation.
Invite the staff member to share their take on how they’re doing, raise concerns or questions, request support, and give you feedback. Ask them to share any observations about your team or organization’s culture, practices, or norms. As someone who’s relatively new, they’ve likely noticed things that you have long taken for granted, and this is a great opportunity for you to get their insight.
*If the staff member is struggling and you believe you are on the verge of a performance issue, 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.