How to Create a 90-Day Transition Plan for an Employee Who’s Just Been Promoted

When someone is promoted within your organization, you don’t want to leave their success up to chance. One way to improve their odds: Create a 90-day transition plan. The first three months in any role are a critical period for developing relationships and building momentum, and this structured approach will help ensure a smooth adjustment between roles and set up your new leader to make an impact quickly.

Here’s a look at the key components of the plan.

Make Sure You’re Aligned on Priorities

The first step in a successful transition plan is to have structured conversations with your promoted employee about the new position. The purpose of these conversations is to ensure your employee is clear on the department’s goals and objectives, as well as the top priorities for the new position.

It’s really easy for even high-performing employees to get distracted and focus too much on things that are not actually important. This often happens because the employee and supervisor each have their own ideas about what is essential for success — ideas they have never shared with each other in a clear and intentional way.

To avoid this confusion and ensure leaders focus on the right things from the start, sit down and define what success is. Carve out some time for an honest conversation in which you are clear about your expectations and what you believe success looks like in the first 90 days in the new role.

Share How You Work Best

We often make assumptions about each other’s communication and work preferences that can slow us down at work. Instead of guessing, make time to explicitly share your preferences and ask your employee to share theirs.

Some leaders are even addressing this issue by encouraging team members to create “user manuals” for themselves.

You don’t have to be that formal, but you should discuss it. How would you like to be kept informed about your team members’ work? Do you prefer more or less information when you receive reports? What method of communication — email, in-person, phone calls — do you prefer? How often do you want updates? This is an important part of the process that bosses often forget, and it can make a big difference in how quickly new leaders adjust to their roles.

Encourage Connections with the Team

It’s important for people in new leadership positions to get to know and connect with their new team. Encourage your employee to get to know each team member’s skills, strengths and role on the team, including what they’re focused on, what their priorities are and even their broader career goals.

Facilitate Relationships With Key Stakeholders

Map out the key relationships that are important factors for the new position’s success. Who are the key internal and external partners that your new leader will need to work with?

Encourage your employee to take time early on to proactively build relationships with leaders in other departments and stakeholders. Face-to-face visits, coffee, lunch and other formal and informal opportunities to get to know them or share information are important to establish solid and productive working relationships for the future.

Set a Measured Pace for Change

New leaders come into their roles with fresh eyes and lots of enthusiasm, and they are often determined to make an impact quickly. While this is important, it often results in the new leader wanting to immediately jump in and start making changes, especially when he/she thinks change will lead to an early win. But it’s important for new leaders to pace their changes appropriately.

Encourage your new leader to spend time observing and consciously building trust before jumping in to make major changes. Challenge them to think through how their changes will affect others. To be successful, they’ll want to get early buy-in from stakeholders — encourage them to find ways to make connections.

Schedule Regular Time for Feedback

Carve out a regular time to check in with your new leader and talk about how the transition is going. This will help her gauge where she is in terms of the success that you both discussed at the beginning of the transition process, and will help her make adjustments to stay in alignment with that success.

Need help developing your emerging leaders? Consider sending them to the Success Labs Management Incubator.

Success Labs is a full-service, strategic organizational and leadership development company located in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. For more than 25 years, our expert team of consultants has worked with hundreds of companies to explore their business potential and improve their company and cultural performance. Contact us to get proactive about your people strategy.