The Ultimate 90-Day Review Process Guide for HR Managers

manager in meeting with new employee symbolising 90-day-review

In this article, we'll discuss the significance of the 90-day review and how it plays a crucial role in evaluating a new employee's performance, aligning goals, and fostering constructive feedback for a positive onboarding process.

What is a 90-day review?

A 90-day review, sometimes called a probationary period evaluation, is a crucial assessment point that provides valuable insights into a new employee's performance during their first three months on the job. This review is an essential part of the onboarding process, giving managers the opportunity to evaluate the new hire's ability to meet job expectations, adapt to company culture, and fulfill their role effectively.

It is a key part of the organization's performance review strategy, helping to align the new employee's strengths and future goals with those of the team. Moreover, this process encourages open conversation, allowing managers to gather feedback about the onboarding experience, identify specific examples of progress, and provide constructive feedback to ensure overall job satisfaction.

The 90-day review also plays a vital role in minimizing employee attrition by addressing challenges early on and offering additional training or more support if needed.

Importance of the 90-day review

A 90-day review is crucial for understanding early employee progress and ensuring goal alignment.

Employee progress assessment

The 90-day review provides a timely opportunity to evaluate the new employee's performance and how well they've adapted to the organization's culture. Managers can gauge their understanding of day-to-day tasks and responsibilities, and compare their progress against the job description.

By gathering feedback from the employee and the team, managers can assess how well the new hire integrates with existing processes and whether they feel adequately supported.

This performance evaluation helps identify gaps in the onboarding experience and highlights where additional training or support may be needed.

Goal alignment

This review also plays a critical role in aligning the new employee's goals with those of the organization. Through constructive feedback and a two-way conversation, managers can ensure that personal objectives are in sync with long-term goals.

This step is essential for overall performance improvement and maintaining employee hope that their role is evolving in a way that meets both personal ambitions and corporate objectives.

By identifying areas where the new hire may be excelling or struggling, the review process provides valuable insights to refine responsibilities and ensure the employee is on track to achieve both individual and company targets.

Structuring an effective 90-day review

Creating a well-structured 90-day review is key to accurately evaluating performance and fostering a supportive environment for new employees.

Preparing the review criteria

To ensure a productive evaluation, managers should establish clear criteria that include expectations, performance metrics, and core competencies specific to the new position. This involves referencing the initial job description, outlining specific goals, and identifying critical responsibilities. Metrics should focus on how well the new hire meets daily tasks, adapts to company culture, and contributes to team projects. Preparing these criteria in advance allows managers to fairly evaluate the employee's strengths and areas for improvement, making the process objective and transparent.

Creating a supportive environment

A supportive environment is vital to facilitating open conversation between the manager and the new hire. Managers should set up a comfortable setting that encourages the employee to share insights about their onboarding process, job satisfaction, and challenges they've encountered in their first three months. This two-way conversation should include asking for specific examples of achievements and concerns, allowing managers to provide feedback that helps the new employee feel adequately supported. Creating this space for dialogue ensures the review is a constructive process where both parties collaborate to address challenges and identify additional training or resources needed.

Furthermore, this approach builds trust, making the employee more willing to share their thoughts on how their role is evolving and how they envision their future goals aligning with the company's objectives.

Conducting the 90-day review

A thoughtful approach is required to conduct a meaningful 90-day review that gathers helpful insights and provides valuable feedback.

Asking the right questions

Begin the review by asking open-ended questions that encourage the new hire to reflect on their onboarding experience, achievements, challenges, and overall job satisfaction. Self-assessment questions might include how well they've adapted to the company's culture and whether they've encountered unexpected difficulties with day-to-day tasks. By inviting them to share their perspective, you allow the new employee to actively participate in assessing their progress, providing specific examples that highlight areas where they have excelled or struggled. These insights help identify where more support or resources are needed, ensuring that future goals remain realistic and achievable.

Delivering constructive feedback

When offering feedback, balance praise with constructive criticism. Recognize the new employee's strengths, celebrating their achievements to reinforce positive behavior. Next, provide specific examples of areas for improvement while maintaining a supportive tone. This is not about criticizing but rather helping the new hire understand expectations clearly and how they can improve their overall job performance. Addressing challenges in a compassionate way ensures that employees feel adequately supported and motivated to continue their growth.

A 90-day review should also highlight where additional training or adjustments in responsibilities might benefit the new hire. This personalized approach helps them feel valued and gives managers the confidence that the employee is on track to meet long-term goals.

Preparing managers for the 90-day review

Managers need thorough preparation to conduct an effective 90-day review that aligns with company standards.

Training on review best practices

Training managers on best practices ensures they can offer constructive feedback during the review. Managers should be educated on how to balance acknowledgment of the employee's strengths with constructive criticism. This involves using specific examples to illustrate both positive outcomes and areas needing improvement. Managers must learn how to phrase their feedback in a way that provides support, empowers employees to take actionable steps, and maintains overall job satisfaction. Such training ensures the review is a positive conversation that motivates the new hire and nurtures growth.

Aligning expectations

It's essential for all managers to understand company review standards and align their expectations accordingly. Standardized guidelines should be in place, outlining how to evaluate an employee's performance, assess their ability to meet expectations, and gauge their integration with the organization's culture. Ensuring consistency across different teams helps maintain fairness and transparency, so new employees receive similar treatment during their first 90 days, no matter who conducts their review. Additionally, managers should be encouraged to focus on gathering insights into challenges the new hire may be facing, providing support through additional training or resources if necessary.

Finally, providing managers with specific review templates or resources can save time and streamline the process, allowing them to focus on delivering valuable feedback that benefits both the new hire and the company.

Addressing common challenges

team of successful business people having a meeting in executive sunlit office-May-06-2024-08-49-04-3401-AM

Overcoming challenges during a 90-day review requires sensitivity and strategic planning.

Handling negative feedback

When giving negative feedback, it's essential to focus on providing constructive solutions rather than criticisms. Managers should share specific examples of performance issues and frame them as opportunities for improvement rather than faults. Offering practical recommendations like additional training, mentorship, or adjustments to day-to-day tasks helps the employee feel adequately supported. This approach shifts the conversation from highlighting shortcomings to finding ways the employee can achieve success, which can reinforce overall job satisfaction.

Dealing with underperformance

If underperformance is identified, it's crucial to understand its root causes. It could be due to a mismatch between the job description and the employee's expectations, a lack of proper onboarding, or insufficient resources. Managers should work with the employee to identify where they need more support and create an actionable development plan. This plan might include providing additional training, clarifying responsibilities, or adjusting expectations to help the employee align with the role. Offering consistent feedback and guidance allows the new hire to improve and meet long-term goals.

Post-review strategies

Effective post-review strategies help new employees continue their growth trajectory.

Actionable development plan

An actionable development plan outlines key growth areas and timelines that the new hire can follow after the 90-day review. This plan should focus on specific objectives tailored to their current role while aligning with organizational goals. It might include improving certain competencies, gaining more experience with specialized tasks, or further understanding company processes. Setting clear timelines for achieving these goals provides structure and helps employees prioritize their improvement areas. This plan should also identify resources like additional training or mentorship opportunities to enhance their skill set and ensure they feel adequately supported.

Regular follow-ups

Regular follow-ups are crucial to track progress and provide continuous employee feedback. These follow-ups could be scheduled monthly or quarterly, depending on the employee's needs and role evolving over time. They allow managers to address any lingering challenges and celebrate achievements as the employee adjusts to their position. Additionally, this ongoing conversation strengthens the two-way relationship, fostering a culture of constructive criticism and growth. These check-ins also help refine the initial development plan by adjusting timelines or goals as necessary, ensuring the employee remains on track.

Other Strategies

Other post-review strategies can include creating peer networks or assigning mentors for the new employee to consult regularly. This support network provides additional perspectives and practical advice, helping new hires integrate more seamlessly into the company's culture. Encouraging employees to contribute their insights on improving existing processes also builds a sense of ownership and drives greater engagement.


Creating a culture of continuous improvement starts with providing constructive feedback and support during the 90-day review. This assessment allows managers to evaluate a new hire’s performance, offer an actionable development plan, and provide regular follow-ups. By focusing on the employee's strengths and identifying areas for growth, managers can align the employee’s goals with the organization's objectives. This support system minimizes employee attrition and ensures new hires feel adequately integrated into the team. Emphasizing open conversation and additional training opportunities fosters a strong onboarding experience that benefits both new employees and the organization.

Rinaily Bonifacio

Written by:

Rinaily Bonifacio

Rinaily is a renowned expert in the field of human resources with years of industry experience. With a passion for writing high-quality HR content, Rinaily brings a unique perspective to the challenges and opportunities of the modern workplace. As an experienced HR professional and content writer, She has contributed to leading publications in the field of HR.


Please note that the information on our website is intended for general informational purposes and not as binding advice. The information on our website cannot be considered a substitute for legal and binding advice for any specific situation. While we strive to provide up-to-date and accurate information, we do not guarantee the accuracy, completeness and timeliness of the information on our website for any purpose. We are not liable for any damage or loss arising from the use of the information on our website.