First 90 Days as New HR Manager - 2024 Action Plan

Stepping into the role of an HR manager marks the beginning of a journey filled with challenges. Of course, there are also learning opportunities and the chance to impact the organization. Of course, this moment should be exciting, but adjusting to a new job is never easy. To start on the right foot, a new manager needs to take the first 90 days to plan, execute, and adapt. 

The initial 90 days are especially crucial as they set the foundation for one's tenure in the position. This period involves strategically positioning oneself to be an effective leader.

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Creating a well-thought-out strategy during these first few months is paramount. It starts with understanding the company's culture. Next, you need to align HR goals with business objectives and identify key areas of improvement. 

The establishment of clear, achievable goals is equally important. These goals should be designed to address immediate needs and lay the groundwork for long-term objectives. It could be for improving employee engagement, streamlining recruitment, or enhancing training. Setting these goals early helps in measuring progress and keeping focus.

In this article, we’ll walk you through steps to take through your first 90 days. You should break up your first three months and include checkpoints on days 30 and 60. 

First 30 Days: Getting Familiar 

At the beginning of your 90 days, it’s important to get a lay of the land before starting any major projects or plans. Get settled in, educate yourself on the company values, and see what the current HR system looks like before you start to build a new strategy or system. 

Understanding the Company Culture

The initial 30 days in the role of an HR manager are pivotal for immersing oneself in the company's culture. This foundational period is less about making immediate changes and more about observation, learning, and understanding. The essence of a company's culture is found in its values, beliefs, and behaviors. As an HR manager, gaining a deep comprehension of these elements is crucial for two reasons.

First, understanding the company culture lets an HR manager align strategies with the company's core values and mission. This alignment fosters a positive work environment and ensures that HR practices support the overall business objectives. 

Secondly, it helps in identifying the strengths and areas for improvement within the current culture. This knowledge is invaluable. It assists in making programs and policies that boost employee engagement, satisfaction, and productivity.

Engaging with employees, participating in company events, and observing the day-to-day operations are great ways to absorb the company culture. By the end of the first 30 days, you will have a good grasp of the company's culture. This will set the stage for informed choices and planning in the following months.

Evaluate Strengths and Weaknesses in Policies

During the initial 30 days, an HR manager must also start to assess the strengths and weaknesses of the company's HR policies. This early analysis is vital for understanding how existing practices align with the company's goals and culture.

These policies include recruitment, performance management, employee relations programs, and diversity initiatives. All of these policies and practices do not need to be perfectly judged and gauged in the first 30 days. However, a new manager needs to start to get a footing for how to implement his or her strategy. 

Identifying the areas where policies excel helps in recognizing practices worth maintaining or expanding. Finding weaknesses in the current frameworks is also crucial. It helps us plan for future improvements. This evaluation informs our strategy and sets the stage for targeted actions to boost efficiency.

Interact with Your Coworkers

Interacting with coworkers within the first 30 days is crucial for an HR manager. These interactions help build relationships. They also help you to understand the many perspectives in the organization.

Establishing a rapport with employees across all levels provides insights into the workforce's dynamics, concerns, and expectations. This foundational step is not just about fostering a positive work environment. It also helps a new manager seem approachable, empathetic, and effective from the very beginning.

Days 30 to 60: Create and Implement

After your first 30 days, you should have a good foothold on the processes and policies within the company. The next 30 days should focus on creating a new HR strategy and implementing it in the workplace. 

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Creating a Strategy

As an HR manager progresses from day 30 to 60, the focus shifts towards the critical task of creating a comprehensive HR strategy. This phase is about combining observations and insights. These come from initial interactions with coworkers and from using the existing HR system. Incorporating feedback and ideas from these interactions is paramount. It ensures that the strategy is not just a reflection of best practices but is also tailored to address the unique challenges and opportunities within the organization.

Engaging with the old system provides a practical understanding of what works and what doesn’t. This engagement identifies points that need change, innovation, or enhancement. The HR manager must balance the aspirations of the workforce with the strategic objectives of the business. The HR manager must ensure that the HR strategy supports employee well-being and organizational growth.

Creating a concrete roadmap is the culmination of this phase. This plan outlines specific initiatives, timelines, and metrics for success. It serves as a guide for implementing the HR strategy, detailing the steps needed to achieve key goals such as improving employee engagement, optimizing recruitment processes, or enhancing training programs. By the end of the 60-day mark, the roadmap becomes the blueprint for action. It sets clear directions for HR and lays the groundwork for measurable impact.

Setting Goals

Setting SMART goals—specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound—is essential for the HR department's immediate focus and the broader organizational vision.

Short-Term Goals for the HR Department:

The HR manager should prioritize short-term goals that are achievable within the next few months to a year. These might include improving the employee onboarding processes to enhance early job satisfaction and retention. After all, formal programs have been shown result in 50% higher retention (read more at “70 Pivotal HR Statistics”).

Long-Term, Overarching Goals for the Organization:

For the broader organizational vision, long-term goals should focus on sustainable growth and cultural development. These could include fostering a diverse, collaborative, and inclusive workplace culture. They could also involve developing leadership pathways to ensure a pipeline of future leaders. These goals are designed to drive the strategic direction of the company for several years. They require continuous review and adaptation to align with evolving business needs and market conditions.

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By separating short-term from long-term goals, the HR manager can create a balanced approach that addresses immediate challenges and lays the foundation for lasting success.

Days 60 to 90: Adapt and React

At the end of your 90 days, you will start to see your HR vision up and running. However, no matter how carefully you construct your program, it will not be perfect on the first try. A new HR department requires care, attention, and plenty of refining over many weeks, months, and maybe even years. 

Reinventing & Experimenting 

In the transition from day 60 to day 90, the HR manager's agenda should pivot towards experimentation. Because your system will need some tune-ups, this is a critical step in refining and optimizing the HR system for peak efficiency. 

This period is about putting the previously laid plans into action and being open to trial and error. Experimentation can involve piloting new recruitment techniques to attract diverse talent or testing different employee engagement strategies. The goal is to see which practices lead to the best employee satisfaction, productivity, and retention. 

Crucially, this phase is not just about success. It's also about learning from failures and missteps. Do not be afraid to think outside the box. Each experiment should be closely monitored, with outcomes measured against the set objectives. This iterative process ensures that the HR system is not only effective but also adaptable to the changing needs of the organization.


During this period, transparency becomes crucial as the HR manager experiments with and implements new strategies. Reporting findings to leaders helps to build trust and foster teamwork across the leadership team. 

Being transparent about the successes, challenges, and lessons in the process ensures that the executive team is fully informed about the HR department's direction. This open line of communication is vital for getting ongoing support for HR initiatives. This communication also makes needed changes based on leadership team feedback.

Finally, transparency also demonstrates accountability. This shows that the HR manager is committed to achieving the best outcomes for the organization while being mindful of its resources and strategic objectives. Transparency in this phase lays the groundwork for a culture of openness and continuous improvement.

Paving for the Future

As the 90-day milestone approaches, the HR manager mustn't view this as the culmination of their efforts. Instead, a manager should view it as a pivotal checkpoint. At this juncture, it's time to reflect on the progress made, evaluate the effectiveness of the strategies implemented, and plan for the future.

The end of the initial 90 days should involve developing a new, forward-looking plan that builds on the lessons learned and successes achieved. Maybe your next plan is not in 30-day increments. However, you should use your short-term and long-term goals to guide your decisions and progress in the future.

Once those goals are completed, set new goals and objectives. Additionally, you can adjust strategies based on feedback and results.

By continuously planning for the future, the HR manager commits to a cycle of improvement, adaptation, and strategic foresight. This cycle is crucial for driving the organization toward its goals and maintaining its competitiveness in the ever-evolving business landscape.

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