The first 90 days in support, especially at a new company, can be incredibly hectic and stressful.
Your new employee is tasked with learning an almost entirely new product from front to back, as well as any secondary tools that you might require them to use, and they’re expected to know the product so well by the end of their training that they can effectively support other people who are also learning an entirely new product. Not to mention, they’re also learning about and integrating your company’s culture into their work. That’s wild.
The simplest way to help coach them toward success is by being consistent in communicating how they are doing and giving them an understanding of what to expect moving forward.
Doing reviews at the first 30, 60, and 90 days of an employee’s tenure with a company is a great way to provide them with feedback on their performance, and it offers them the opportunity to tell you what is going well and where they need help. You can also make sure that your new hire has a clear understanding of what goals you expect them to have reached at those 30/60/90-day points.
Creating a standard helps your employees know what is coming, and it provides a benchmark for measuring performance. That way, when considering raises or annual reviews, you can look back on your insights from the 30/60/90 period, along with similar conversations and benchmarks for each of your employees. We recommend keeping all of these questions and expectations in a team-accessible document or Trello board where employees are able to reference them throughout their first 90 days.
Finally, hold your reviews face-to-face or over video — while text can be helpful, it’s amazing how many nuances of human communication can be lost without visual contact.
30 day review
What do you expect your employee to do within their first 30 days of working for your company? It’s valuable to communicate your expectations at the beginning of each period so that they can know exactly how to move forward without any ambiguity.
The focus for the first 30 days should be on learning the product, learning about your company, and getting a handle on your culture. Set simple and straightforward goals around measures like conversations handled and documents read, to avoid overwhelming your new hire.
Continue to check in on these expectations and goals every time you have a one-on-one with your employee. In the first month, we recommend daily for the first week, and then weekly for the next three weeks. After the first month is up, you can choose to shift to a different cadence that works for you and your employee. Along with your one-on-ones, at the end of the employee’s first month you should be conducting your first "review" process: the 30-day review.
Give these questions to your new employee before the review so they can prepare to talk with you about them:
Come prepared with an example of a case where you feel like you struggled and another that you feel was a "win".
Do you feel comfortable in the queue? What’s going well, and what could be better?
Do you know where to find the information that you need? What’s going well, and what could be better?
Notice that these questions are not you reviewing the performance of the new employee, except for, perhaps, their self-evaluation of a ticket where they struggled. They are still too fresh to the inbox for you to offer any truly deep corrective insights, so instead allow them to tell you about the onboarding process. They can also give you insights into your own performance as a manager, or even offer feedback on content or onboarding processes that might not really make sense anymore. Fresh eyes are often the best at providing insights on any lasting practices that have stuck around just because they are familiar.
Take this opportunity to listen to what they have to say about their experience getting up and running, and use their insights to better your process for the next person coming on. You’ll have plenty of opportunities to dig deep on performance review in the next two review processes.
60 day review
After 60 days, they should have a handle on the inbox, be working on some of the trickier conversations, and be taking on some of the responsibilities of the other normal support team members. This is a great time to start thinking about where they see their career in support going and setting longer-term goals. They should also be considering ways that support at your company could be better and how they would like to make improvements to your strategy if given the opportunity. The goals for this period are success in the inbox (usually tied to CSAT or a ticket metric), taking on some specific responsibilities outside of the inbox, and looking at specific areas where they would like to develop and impact the support team.
During the 60-day review, you should offer constructive insights on trends of theirs that you’ve noticed in the inbox. For example, if they regularly make the same grammar mistake in their responses, break light policies, or you have concerns about their conversations with colleagues, this is a great time to talk about them. Then, use the following points for a conversation around where the team member would like to take their career.
Have the team member come to the meeting with their development goals, ready to discuss.
What are they doing well? What needs improving? Ask their perspective, and give your own.
Do they like what they are working on, and do they know what is expected of them?
Review expectations if necessary and set clear goals for the next 30 days.
You might look at this and think "Development goals!? They’ve only been here for 60 days!" But if you show your employees that you are invested in their development and want to give them a path, you’ll have more impactful employees that are encouraged to grow within your company.
90 day review
This is the big one! For some companies, this is the end of the "trial" or probationary period enforced between the employer and the employee to ensure a good fit. By now, your employee should be slaying the inbox, working on a meaningful project that pushes forward the goals of your support team, and holding the same responsibilities as the rest of the support team. For example, if you have a weekend rotation or PagerDuty pinging system, they should be put on the rotation.
They are a fully-fledged, hard-working member of the support team. These 90-day review questions serve to give some insightful feedback to you about how the process of onboarding has gone and to give them the chance to hear how you think it’s going as well. Both you and the new employee should answer the questions below before the meeting, give each other time to review your responses, and then talk through them together in person or over a video call.
For the employee:
How are things going in general?
What are you doing well?
What needs improving?
Do you know what’s expected of you at work and do you have the resources to get that done?
Do you like what you're working on? If not, what would you like to be working on?
Do you work well with your teammates?
Do you work well with your team lead?
Does your team lead recognize your good work?
Does your team lead explain clearly what needs improving?
Can you go to your team lead with concerns?
Has your team lead talked to you about your progress within the last 90 days?
Do you feel encouraged and appreciated by our company?
What do you want to accomplish within the next 90 days?
For the manager:
What is the employee doing well?
What needs improving?
Does the employee understand what their job role is, and do they do it?
Do they work well with their teammates?
Do you understand what their career goals are and how they would like to accomplish them? How will you help them move forward in the next 90 days?
This opens a dialogue that can be incredibly beneficial moving forward in the manager-employee relationship. This kind of radical candor can have a huge impact on the productivity and positivity of your support team. Having it in place by the end of the first three months lets your employee know that it’s okay to have hard and honest conversations and that you are cultivating a safe space to them to be able to speak their mind and talk about the things that are important to them.
These 30, 60, and 90-day reviews are such a simple process to put in place when you look at them objectively, yet so few teams implement them. Do yourself a favor, use this simple outline, and set your team members and yourself up for success with your next new hire.