A 90-day review is a performance review conducted at the end of an employee’s first three months with an organization. It typically marks the end of the formal onboarding process for a new hire. 

30 and 60-day reviews are more often focused on the onboarding process for a new employee and getting them settled into the organization. A 90-day review is a final touch point with an employee before they complete the onboarding phase and should contain an element of performance review.

Why do a 90-day review?

The first 90 days in a new position are likely to involve a steep learning curve as an employee familiarizes themselves with the organization, the duties and expectations of their role, and the company culture. It’s also a key period for establishing professional relationships with coworkers, clients, customers, and other significant stakeholders. 

An employee’s onboarding experience has a direct impact on their overall job satisfaction, engagement, and productivity. With organizations losing 17% of their new hires within their first three months, getting the onboarding experience right is also a key factor in reducing employee attrition rates. 

If you only conduct 30 and 60-day reviews, it will most likely be another 10 months before an employee has their annual review—and you could miss the opportunity to address any issues that arise during this time. 

What should be the focus of a 90-day review?

A 90-day review is a good opportunity to evaluate your new hire’s performance, revisit their longer-term goals discussed during the 60-day review, and obtain their feedback on the overall onboarding experience. 

After three months in the role, an employee should have a good understanding of their day-to-day tasks and broader responsibilities, as well as organizational processes. 

90 days is also a good point to get a measure of the employee’s performance based on their manager and coworkers’ observations. Identifying any areas of concern and providing constructive feedback at this time helps an employee to grow and address any issues before they become a bigger problem. 

How to conduct a 90-day review

Here are some best practices for conducting effective 90-day reviews with your new hires. 

Before the review

  • Give the employee sufficient notice of the review. In addition to mentioning it at the end of their 60-day review, send a reminder to the employee several weeks prior so they have time to prepare. 
  • Define the objectives of the review. Identifying what both you and the employee hope to get from the review will help keep the conversation relevant and productive. 
  • Prepare a short performance evaluation. As this is the key part of the 90-day review, a structured evaluation will help guide the process and allow you to refer to examples if necessary. Base this on the feedback you’ve obtained from the employee’s manager and colleagues. 
  • Provide the employee with a short list of questions in advance. To ensure the review is collaborative rather than one-sided, give the employee time to prepare for the questions you’ll be covering. 

During the review

  • Focus on reflection rather than a probationary period. Employees may feel anxious about a 90-day review as you will most likely be evaluating how they’ve performed during their probationary period. But employees shouldn’t be expected to operate at 100% in a new role from day one. Their first three months should be spent learning the role as well as the organization’s culture and processes. A 90-day review allows for reflection on this so you can provide constructive feedback on areas of improvement, if necessary. 
  • Facilitate a conversation, not an interview. This review is also an opportunity for the employee to raise any concerns they may have. Give them the space to provide their feedback on the onboarding process, their role, and the organization more broadly.
  • Set out goals and expectations moving forward. As the employee won’t have another review for some time, it’s important to revisit and reinforce ongoing progress at the 90-day mark. You can also help the employee to plan how they will achieve these objectives. 

After the review

  • Keep a record of the performance evaluation and review. As well as being best practice from a record-keeping perspective, it’s useful to revisit the notes made as part of the 90-day review before an employee’s annual review. The employee should also be provided with a copy of these notes. 
  • Explain the next steps. As there may not be any further formal reviews before the employee’s annual review, advise them of this and explain how they can raise any concerns or questions in the meantime. 

Questions to ask during a 90-day review

As you’ll be evaluating the employee’s performance so far, ensure the review is a two-way conversation. It’s a good idea to ask your employees questions that will prompt them to gauge their own performance. Examples of this type of question include:

  • How do you feel you’re performing in the job?
  • Are there any areas you want to improve on in the context of your professional goals?
  • What achievement in the last three months are you most proud of?
  • What have you found most challenging?
  • What are your goals over the next six months?
  • What are your long-term goals with the company?

Onboarding

After three months at an organization, employees are well-placed to provide useful insights into the onboarding process from start to finish. 

Asking questions like these can help you improve the overall process for new hires.

  • How did you find the onboarding process, and do you have any suggestions as to how it can be improved?
  • Is there any further training you’re interested in?

About the role

A 90-day review is another opportunity to ensure an employee understands their role and responsibilities. 

  • Has the role met your expectations?
  • What do you most and least enjoy about the role?

You can also find out more about the employee’s experience within the team to address any potential issues and identify team members that may be particularly good at helping new hires settle in. 

  • Have you experienced any difficulties within your team?
  • Who has supported you most in the team, and how?

As always, ensure the employee has the opportunity to raise any questions or concerns they have during their 90-day review. Their responses can provide crucial insights into how they’re adjusting to your organization. 

Conclusion

A 90-day review is often the final review during an employee’s formal onboarding process. Three months into a role is an ideal time to conduct a small performance evaluation, identify any areas for potential improvement, and address any concerns that either you or the employee may have. 

The value of 30, 60, and 90-day reviews should not be underestimated as they can be a useful tool for understanding early factors that might affect an employee’s performance or long-term commitment to your organization.

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