Getting onboarded and starting on the right foot is critical for any role. Often to be able to hire a new UX Researcher, there needs to be a business case. The business case is usually backlog projects which are unmet. Your goal in joining a new organisation is to be ready to start on projects as quickly as possible, with the right level of context. Context is key. Once onboarded, you won't be afforded the same amount of time to gather context again. Use that time wisely.
This article will cover milestones and things you should be doing in your first 30/60/90 days in an organisation, regardless of the business type. This plan is versatile, UX Design or Product Design can also use it.
I’m using a structure like this to onboard new team members of the UX Research team to make sure they have as much context as possible, as quickly as possible.
If you aren’t getting an onboarding plan from your manager, you can take this and use it to hit the ground running.
At the end of this article there’s a template checklist in Notion you can use and make your own.
The first few days are going to be a blur with a lot of information. Your goal should be to set up your laptop or computer as quickly as possible. By doing so, you can start accessing tools, people, and resources you should be reviewing. Once you do that you should be contacting your manager to say hi. Start to get their expectations for your first 30/60/90 days.
If your manager hasn’t already found you a buddy, it would be worth asking for one. A buddy can help you quickly understand the lay of the land. They help with areas that may not have been included in your onboarding plan - if one is given to you.
In the first week, your aim is to get a basic understanding of how things work. Find out the communication method of choice, and how people schedule and conduct meetings. During this time also complete any compliance tasks or courses you need to do. Register for a general onboarding or welcome program that you can take part in.
By the end of week 2, you want to have reached out to your team members and introduced yourself. They can also give you advice on how best to onboard. Ask what material you should read or watch. If your manager has not made a list of potential stakeholders, ask your team members. They can help in identifying the people you need to reach out to.
By this day you should have some basic understanding of the organisation. You have a good sense of its main business/service, and have spoken to your immediate team members. You would have spent some time looking internally and externally. Internal sources would include existing research in your focus area, product road maps, product vision, product marketing research, competitor reviews. External sources would be like industry papers, market research, annual reports from your company and competitors.
By day 60, you would have met all your direct and possibly indirect stakeholders and got a sense of what the business priorities are. Ensure you are asking them for reading material and outstanding questions.
Spending a couple of months of understanding the context of the team/business/focus is a good upfront investment for new hires. It helps to ensure you are working on what is important. Once this time has passed you won’t have enough leeway to familiarise yourself later.
To set up your first research project in the organisation, go back to the people who might be stakeholders. Ask them for deeper context, suggesting other stakeholders and their preference for updates.
Congratulations, you have made it to the three month mark! By now, you should have updated your initial stakeholders and the people you have met during your onboarding. They will want to know about your first project. Since you may not have had the chance to meet them in person, it’s important to set up appropriate communication channels for project updates. Drumming up interest is and important part of project work. Consistently check that the project meets business goals and that those goals haven’t shifted. This is the point where you begin to show your value to the team, stakeholders and the company. At this point you also want to check in with your manager how your onboarding has been going. You want to know if you have been meeting their goals.
This article was inspired by The First 90 days book.
What’s missing from this 30/60/90 day plan? Share your suggestions in the comments, they may end up in the checklist template.
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