Whether you are a project manager onboarding a new member of the team, or a hiring manager recruiting a new project manager to lead a team, introducing new staff to an existing team can be a challenge.
Make the onboarding process easier with these 5 things that all new project team members should know. They work for your senior recruits and the people working on smaller tasks within a bigger project, so they will speed up integrating the new person with the rest of the team!
- What The Project is All About
It sounds simple, but making sure your new team members knows what they are working on is really important. It’s too easy to get stuck in the ‘here are your tasks, please work quickly’ frame of mind. What’s more beneficial is helping them understand the business context of the project and why it is important. If your project is part-way through already, you might want to talk about how you got to where you are today and how the project has evolved since inception.
When employees know how their activities fit into the bigger picture they can be more effective at their job and tend to have higher morale as they see the purpose of what they are doing.
Talk to them about the project’s success criteria and the ultimate deliverables before you discuss their part in the journey to achieving them.
- Their Role on the Project
So how will they contribute to the team? Whether your new project team member is the project manager or someone seconded to the team for six months, they need to know exactly what their role is.
This might be straightforward if the tasks have already been planned and they have simply been brought in to do a particular job, but it could also involve them using their subject matter expertise to scope and plan their work before they do it.
Also, make sure that they understand how their tasks interlink with the work of the others in the team. Typically on projects work builds to deliver the end goal, so it’s highly likely that other people will be waiting on them to do their part before work in other areas can continue. These are project dependencies, and it’s worth calling them out so that everyone is clear.
- Who Is in the Team
This is a good point to introduce them to the rest of the team. Don’t leave out the people who are not based in your office. A floor walk isn’t good enough when you have virtual or international team members.
Set up time between your new starter and the others in the team for them to have coffee together and a half hour chat (on the phone if necessary). It doesn’t need to be deep and meaningful but it’s a start for their working relationship and it helps build trust quickly. It’s also useful for the new starter to see who does what in the project team and whom they should ask for help in the future if they need it.
If you have a team contact list or directory, share this too. (If you don’t have one, why not?)
- Standard Tools and Processes
If your team use a particular planning tool to manage projects, make sure that your new colleague has access to it. Get them set up on the collaboration tools that you use so they will feel part of team discussions from Day 1.
This goes for the standard processes you expect them to use too. Talk them through anything they need to know for the immediate tasks and set the background about the project management approach or methodology. However, their first week in the job is not the best time to be giving them a stack of reading about the project close out process. Do what you can in a ‘just in time’ way so that they aren’t overloaded with information they can’t use right now.
- Their Span of Control
‘Span of control’ refers to the activities that someone is responsible for. In other words: Tell your new team member where their boundaries are.
They need to know what they can do without further reference to you, their project sponsor or line manager. Conversely, they also need to know what sort of things should be escalated and where they can’t authorize work or expenditure.
These might be formally documented in the project documentation as part of the tolerance for time, cost and quality set out by the team at the beginning of the project, but if not, you can still have an informed discussion about what they are allowed to decide without further input and what needs to be discussed more broadly. Knowing these boundaries helps everyone get their job done within the constraints of the project.
These 5 things that new team members need to know will help your new starters hit the ground running. The onboarding process is, of course, an ongoing experience and it can take three to six months for a senior manager in a complex role to start making a real contribution to the business.
Making sure that new starters feel as if they can quickly settle in and support the objectives of the team is important because if you make those first few months a good experience, your new hire is likely to stick with the company for longer and be more motivated.
Triumph Professional Staffing can help you source new team members and get them set up for success in their new roles. Get in touch with us and let’s talk!