New Leader 90 Day Plan

cps new leader onboarding 001

Statistics show that almost 50% of new leaders will fail in their role within the first 18 months. In order to avoid the high cost of these failures, it’s critically important to onboard new leaders with the best action plan for success.

There is a list of best practices for onboarding new leaders and the first one is creating a 90 day action plan for new leaders. But how do you create a successful plan and what key components should be included? Create a new leader 90 day plan with the following elements, adapted from Michael Watkins book “The First 90 Days”,  to put your new leaders on the path to achieving their goals and assimilating into the company culture effectively.


The purpose of creating a new leader onboarding plan is to clarify your highest impact areas, focus your efforts, establish goals to help drive results and plan accordingly. It’s also helpful to understand the 3 phases of the 90 day outline and what should be accomplished during each stage.

Phase 1 – Discovery: Focuses on accelerated learning and establishing relationships with key stakeholders and your team (days 1-14).

Phase 2 – Diagnosis: Centers on the analysis and review of all information required to build the revised strategy, plan, structure, culture, operations, etc. (days 15-65).

Phase 3 – Direction: Concentrates on communication and implementation of the plans (days 66-90).


Now identify your objectives and what you want to accomplish in terms of your role, team members, stakeholders, operations, etc. during the 3 phases over the first 90 days. For example, some of your objectives may include: clarifying roles and expectations with key team members and stakeholders, understanding and influencing the budget, participating in the company’s realignment, developing process improvements in key areas, etc.

cps best practices 001


Once your objectives have been established, you can identify the information and key milestones for each phase of the plan to monitor your progress toward your objectives. This will include meeting with key stakeholders, direct reports and team members to listen to their perspective and gain insight on problems and possible solutions; and researching past successes, failures, budgets, plans, processes, etc. to learn what is working and what isn’t.


An essential part of any new leader onboarding plan is sitting down with your CEO or boss for these 5 conversations: Situation (how the boss sees the business situation), Expectations (negotiate what is expected of you), Style (how you both can best interact), Resources (negotiate what resources are available to you), and Development (how your tenure in this job contributes to personal development). It helps to use an Executive Coach to help prepare you for the conversations with your boss as well as other aspects of the New Leader Onboarding Plan.


Once you have gathered your research and information, you can complete your analysis of who needs what, what steps need to be taken and what you will need from other people. This step will focus on what actions you can take to build your team, create alignment to goals, and form coalitions with allies. Then you can turn your attention to communicating and implementing your plan of action once your direction has been established.

The first 90 days are critical to the success of a new leader. While there are many steps to accomplish during this time, onboarding a new leader with a strategic 90 day plan in place will propel him/her towards achieving goals and positive assimilation. Download a sample 90 day plan for new leaders here to help you get started.



Tips For Selecting A Company For New Leader Onboarding

new leader onboarding

Research has shown that almost 50% of new leaders fail to meet expectations within the first 12 to 18 months in their new position. This failure costs companies time and money resulting in a loss of productivity, efficiency, employee engagement, morale, and many other consequences.

When onboarding a new leader, it is important to hire an outside company to help facilitate the process in order to assimilate the leader into your organization more efficiently and effectively in a shorter period of time. This new leader onboarding process creates a path to success for the new leader and better results overall.

Here are 12 tips to consider when looking to hire a company to help implement the new leader onboarding process:

  1. Client List – Does the company have an impressive list of clients known for outstanding performance in their industries?
  2. Industry Experience – Does the company have coaches with experience in your industry or related industries possessing the knowledge of problems unique to your industry?
  3. Coaching Experience – Does the company have coaches with extensive experience coaching leaders at the C-level or high-potential Directors in preparation for officer level roles?
  4. Real World Experience – Does the company have coaches who have served in top senior level roles who are able to understand and relate to the real problems faced by your senior leaders?
  5. Coaching Methodology – Does the company have a proven coaching process and measurements that will help you and the leaders track progress and ensure success?
  6. Training & Certification – Does the company have coaches who have been trained and certified in a proven coaching methodology that has an established track record improving senior leader performance?
  7. ROI – Does the company have case studies to show the ROI for their coaching services?
  8. Education – Does the company have coaches with advanced degrees in business and psychology which provides the foundation for leadership development?
  9. Chemistry – Does the company have coaches who can establish instant credibility with your senior leaders?
  10. Fees – Do the company’s fees fit with your expectations and are they competitive with the coaching industry?
  11. Collaborative Partnership – Does the company have coaches who are committed to partnering with HR to achieve success for the new leader?
  12. Extensive Coach Network – Does the company have a network of coaches who can serve your needs at key locations around the globe?

Achieving success for your new leaders is possible with the right company to partner with you and implement a personalized strategic plan. Knowing what to look for in a company will offer you an even greater chance for success and open the door to improved leadership impact and effectiveness.


Effective New Leader Onboarding


Typically, when a new leader is announced, team members become concerned about their future and the status of their responsibilities. As a new leader, initial goals with your team are to accelerate your impact and alignment to your vision. Often this is complicated if you were promoted from among your peers or you have been hired from the outside. In either situation, you’ll need to be sure that your team is completely onboard and aligned with your new direction.

A best practice technique used in several companies for new leader onboarding is the New Leader Team Assimilation process. In short, this process opens up team communications with the NEW leader and their team, helps build a team culture for openness, efficiently accelerates building stronger personal relationships, and provides the team with a safe venue to discuss any team and organizational challenges. This 6-step process works as follows:

1. The new leader lets their team know a coach (internal or external) will be contacting them to solicit their confidential input about what’s on their minds, concerns, suggestions, etc.

2. Confidential interviews are held with the leader’s direct reports by the coach. These interviews are either one-on-one or with the entire team present.

Interview questions typically asked of the team ahead of the meeting:

  • What do you know about (New Leader) already?
  • What don’t you know about (New Leader) but would like to know?
  • What should (New Leader) know about the team’s skills, experience, and dynamics?
  • What concerns do you have about (New Leader) taking the role? Concerns about what he/she might do?
  • What is inhibiting you the most from doing your job effectively?
  • What advice would you give (New Leader) to be sure he/she stays the course and is most successful?
  • What do you expect from (New Leader)?
  • What major problems will (New Leader) face?
  • What do you think (New Leader’s) job is in the next 12 months?
  • What are the top two things in the organization (New Leader) needs to change and why?

Typical questions answered by the new leader in the team meeting:


  • What do you know about the team already?
  • What are your hot buttons?
  • What are your priorities and goals for the team?
  • What are things at the Company that should be changed?
  • How do you describe your management style?
  • How do you like to get information?
  • How do you like to communicate?
  • How do you want to hear bad news?
  • What do you like to do for fun?

3. The coach briefs the new leader ahead of their meeting. The coach outlines their role and makes recommendations for productive and effective leadership behaviors in this type of meeting.

4. The new leader and the team meet to discuss the team’s input and answer the questions. The coach covers the meeting objectives, ground rules, provides an overview of the entire process, and facilitates this discussion among the team and new leader. Both the new leader and coach ensure all topics and issues raised in the interviews are introduced for discussion always protecting anonymity.

5. After the meeting the notes are provided to the entire team including follow-up items.

6. The coach and new leader meet to debrief and discuss the key insights, observations, and follow-up items.

While the New Leader Team Assimilation process can be conducted as a standalone activity, it is most helpful as part of a new leader executive coaching process. This process works very well to help accelerate the team’s performance while reducing areas of ambiguity upon the new leader’s announcement, helps the new leader manage their time efficiently, and fosters an open team culture where anything can be brought up and discussed.