The first three months in an HR Director role are a critical period that sets the foundation for your future in the role. If you can adapt quickly to the new position, you can drive an impact quickly and become your CEO's right-hand People champion.
However, hitting the ground running with any new job is easier said than done. Chances are, most of your time will be spent familiarizing yourself with your new HR team and the company's mission while evaluating the needs and expectations of key stakeholders
Time is always of the essence, but this is particularly true in the HR world. Employers have the expectation their new HR leader will make an immediate difference behind the scenes, delivering on the company's key objectives and team goals.
For aspiring HR Directors, a plan of action is imperative for a quick transition. As such, it is advised that HR Directors set a 90 day plan for themselves with checkpoints after 30 and 60 days.
Within these windows, HR Directors new to the role will learn to set SMART goals and obtain a deeper understanding of the company's core values. A 30 60 90 day plan will also equip HR leaders with the tools to develop stronger relationships with new and existing employees and contribute positively to their company's culture.
Days 1-30: Getting the Lay of the Land
Understand Organizational Culture, Values, and the Big Picture
The first 30 days in any new HR Director position should be primarily reserved for research. It is worth noting, however, the way the first 30 days look can and will vary from company to company. Some companies, particularly start-ups, can offer a largely blank canvas for HR professionals to work with. Otherwise, setting yourself up for success in the first 90 days starts with obtaining a clear understanding of company culture and values.
Talk to key stakeholders in the company as well as the other HR professionals around you to see if they can point you in the right direction. There may be valuable reading material that lends itself to connecting your standards and best practices to company values.
Awareness of the big picture can also allow an HR Department to hit the ground running on making stronger new hires. Understanding the company culture allows the HR Director to assess candidates for their cultural fit, and onboarding new employees who align with the organization's values may lend itself to a productive and positive work environment with a higher rate of retention and satisfaction.
Assess and Evaluate Current Policies
Once you have identified the core policies that connect your company to its employees, it is important to think critically about the policies that work, any policies that should be scrapped, and policies that can be improved.
The only way to know for sure what works and what does not is to ask around. Talk to employees with various job roles in the company to get a better sense of their relationship with the HR Department. Likewise, be sure to consult the company hiring manager and new hires within the last 90 days before evaluating key HR activities such as the onboarding process, interview process, and performance review process.
Observation is the key to making progress over the first 30 days of your 90 day plan. It is also an essential function of good management, as keeping track of the way employees feel with regular check ins will make them feel valued. If this is done right, building relationships should come easy. Chances are, there is more than one HR leader or HR professional working underneath you. Stick to a light agenda when meeting with them, but keep things open-ended to allow the right questions to come to mind.
The more face time you can attain with employees, the easier it is to establish clear expectations for your team. Feel free to set up meetings both in person and on Zoom (whatever is applicable), and continue to maintain the relationship with regular check ins past the initial 30 days.
Taking an interest across the company not only empowers employees but will also increase the likelihood of passionate people sharing information. As an HR Director taking on a new role, information is one of the most valuable assets at your disposal and your relationships can serve as the conduit to that.
Days 30-60: Adjusting
Develop Your Road Map
Now that you have the lay of the land, you will want to develop a roadmap for your HR vision. When compiling your plan, be sure to take advantage of the feedback and base-level information you received from employees.
Ask yourself if the specific objectives of the previous HR team match yours and whether or not they align with core company values. If they do, feel free to explore those ideas and why they work without having to fix what isn't broken. If you find that previous HR objectives were incongruent with organizational values, put together a plan of action to connect those dots.
Continue your conversations with employees at all levels to shore up these gaps, then draft a communication plan that emphasizes the company's values and culture. Follow up your communication plan by updating policies, employee handbooks, and other onboarding materials to reflect your new ethos. These updates will provide you with something substantive to show other departments and set a good precedent for what's to come.
Set Realistic Short-Term Goals
Once you have established organizational wants and needs, flesh out your outline for success with key objectives you believe can pay off in the short-term window. A good short-term goal should focus on anything that can be realistically implemented by the end of the third month of your 30 60 90 day plan.
One surefire way for HR directors to make a big splash is by setting up a dedicated wellness program, provided one is not already in place. This could go a long way toward aligning HR goals with new employee's goals. According to an Oracle study, 88% of workers feel their definition of "success" has changed and are responding more to work-life balance and mental health and wellness over simply having a steady paycheck. Implementing varied wellness options such as mental health seminars and initiatives to cultivate an improved work-life balance could go a long way toward employees meeting team objectives.
Another great way for HR Directors to quickly make their presence felt in a positive way is to enhance diversity and inclusion initiatives. According to a Glassdoor survey, 67% of job seekers consider workplace diversity a key factor when considering employment opportunities. Additionally, more than 50% of current employees want their workplace to do more to increase diversity.
The real impact of diversity and inclusion initiatives will typically not be felt immediately and could take months or years to be truly felt, however, efforts such as the establishment of employee resource groups and the implementation of a diversity and inclusion assessment will show all stakeholders you are ready and willing to make a positive difference in the short and long term at your new job.
Creating and meeting key short-term goals will not only give you and your team a sense of accomplishment and a morale boost in the office but create a low-risk opportunity to pick up an early win for your new HR team.
Use Business Objectives to Create Big Picture HR Goals
Through your conversations with company employees, you may have picked up on a few business benchmarks your organization is looking to meet on a macro and micro level. While the role of an effective HR leader has little to do with the "X's and O's" of a business or company, playing off of select business objectives to improve the employee experience could be a great way to simultaneously improve employee retention and upper management satisfaction.
Perhaps an organization has a goal of expanding its market presence into foreign geographical areas. As the HR Director, you have the power to focus on recruiting region-specific representatives to better meet that objective. There may be room for collaboration between marketing and sales departments to identify realistic regions for expansion, and you may have the opportunity to follow up those efforts with a recruitment strategy to attract and hire those familiar with a familiarity of those regions.
Likewise, a company may want to meet an unspecified revenue benchmark by the end of the fiscal year. HR Directors can play off this company goal by tailoring training programs and professional development toward product knowledge, effective sales communication, and negotiation. From there, examine any trends that come about from these initiatives and feel free to adjust accordingly.
Regardless of the results yielded, this is a great way to show upper management you are taking a keen interest in the company's primary mission while finding new, innovative ways to support your employees.
Create a System of Evaluation
As you inevitably progress past the 90 day window, you will need a dedicated way to evaluate the effectiveness of any changes you make to existing HR policy and any new implementations you conceive. A good system of evaluation and metrics tracking at the end of the first 60 days should provide a sound overview of the HR department's progress and the impact of implemented initiatives.
The most effective way to check progress is through data collection and analysis. As HR Director, it will be up to you to identify and track the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that best align with the culture and mission of your organization. However, KPIs such as employee turnover rate, time-to-fill for vacant positions, total training hours, and employee engagement scores could be of value to almost any organization.
HR Directors will also want to identify the data analytics tools necessary to the collection of accurate and relevant data. Through data, the HR professional can analyze trends and patterns to determine the implementations that are working and areas for improvement. Employee feedback surveys make for a great counterbalance to a data-driven approach and can often provide HR managers with information data trends are incapable of disclosing.
Days 60-90: Executing
Experiment and Adapt
Now that you have established a plan of action, it is time to put it to the test in the final third of your 90 day window. Whether you implementing new programs, initiatives, or onboarding tasks, it is important to be attentive to the immediate reception of your ideas. Until there is enough data to analyze, immediate employee feedback will be the only point of reference you have to determine the effectiveness of those changes.
While patience is certainly a virtue, make sure to hear out any and all employees with constructive feedback on your policies. After all, the importance of building relationships extends infinitely beyond the first third of the 30 60 90 day plan.
Solicit and welcome any and all immediate employee feedback to your vision, then consult with your team of HR professionals about the best way to proceed.
Share Your Findings
Transparency is a quality that goes hand in hand with good management. By sharing the findings of known data and employee feedback at the end of the 90 day window, you will likely find an easier time of articulating your HR vision to executives. After all, collecting data is only one component of an effective plan of action. Communicating the results is arguably more important for the way it can allow new employees to feel a sense of inclusion in the success of the company on a macro level.
By administering employee surveys without communicating the results, employees may feel like they are being ignored, something all HR Directors will want to avoid. It is important to let your employees know they are being listened to at every turn and that their voice matters. As far as key executives are concerned, being able to articulate the results of your findings will give them a better idea of how they can most effectively back your initiatives.
Sharing your findings will also help you get a better grasp on what the next three month window could look like at your place of employment. You will not only have base data to measure against, but the opportunity to improve on benchmarks and not tell, but show your employer how you are making a positive difference on their company.
What Comes Next? Planning for the Future
The job of an HR Director does not end after 90 days. Based on the observations and insights obtained over the course of this exercise, HR Directors should have a new level of confidence in outlining long-term strategies and initiatives in line with the company's goals. Having a plan of action for what your HR department will look like following the 90 day window is crucial to the overall health of your place of employment.
Long-term strategies ensure that the positive changes made from key goals in the short term are maintained and built upon like any good foundation. Once the impact of your team goals in the short-term are felt, employees will have an easier time buying in to your long-term vision, which can contribute to positive cultural change, the effective allocation of resources, and improved employee engagement.
The 30 60 90 day plan should not be seen as a one-time occurrence. Rather, it should be repeated in succession to develop good managerial habits that can have a lasting effect on company morale. Think of it as a set of fundamentals not at all unlike how proper dribbling technique is essential to being a great basketball player, and so on. A good player never stops dribbling because it is an essential component to what they do.
Proper planning, communication and curiosity should mean the same thing to an HR Director.
The 30 60 90 day plan is a great framework and point of reference for new HR Directors coming into a new job. The word "framework" is the key to the proper implementation of this plan, as it cannot and should not look the same for everyone. HR Directors should instead use the 30 60 90 day plan as a set of guidelines and adapt their plan to the unique situation they are in.
Different companies with different specific goals and strategic needs will demand different things from HR Directors, and a good HR Director should be adaptable to those needs. However, by following this framework, HR department heads should find greater ease in learning the ropes of their new place of employment while making an immediate impact.
30-60-90 Day Checklist for New HR Directors
Goal: Understand the company's culture, values, and mission. Become familiar with existing HR policies.
- Connect with key stakeholders and HR professionals for insights.
- Evaluate existing HR policies through discussions and observations. Analyze current policies and their effectiveness via employee feedback.
- Engage with HR team members and conduct open-ended meetings.
- Formulate initial strategies to align HR goals with organizational values.
- Outline objectives for the upcoming phases based on initial observations.
Goal: Develop a plan of action for new initiatives and improvements to existing ones.
- Synthesize feedback obtained in the first 30 days to shape HR vision.
- Ensure alignment of previous HR objectives with company values.
- Update policies and communication materials to reflect new initiatives.
- Establish SMART goals focusing on wellness programs or diversity initiatives.
- Implement programs aiming for immediate impact on employee satisfaction.
- Integrate initiatives that align with broader business objectives.
- Collaborate with other departments to support overarching business goals.
- Tailor HR initiatives to facilitate and complement specific business benchmarks.
- Develop training programs aligning with the company's long-term mission.
Goal: Begin implementing items from your action plan.
- Reach out to vendors who can help you with any new programs you're activating.
- Collaborate with the HR team to assess the effectiveness of changes made.
- Adapt strategies based on immediate feedback and initial outcomes.
- Share findings and outcomes transparently with stakeholders and executives.
- Articulate how HR initiatives support organizational objectives.
- Encourage employee involvement in the success of implemented changes.
- Outline long-term strategies building upon short-term successes.
- Emphasize the importance of ongoing adaptation and flexibility in HR strategies.
- Incorporate continuous evaluation and improvement into the HR department's ethos.
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