In part I of my article about effective project onboarding, I revealed some jaw dropping statistics that emphasize the importance of onboarding. In this article, I would like to share some effective strategies I’ve implemented to bring on a new project team member.
“These considerations have been crucial to ensuring my new team member is set up for success.”
Plan, plan, plan & then plan some more
A proper onboarding process requires planning. Some of the items I consider in my planning:
- What skills do they need to achieve in their role within 90 days?
- What key onboarding meetings do they need to attend?
- What milestones must they achieve within this time frame?
- How frequently do I check in with them?
These considerations have been crucial to ensuring my new team member is set up for success and can ramp up more quickly for a seamless transition into the organization.
Create a structured schedule
When acclimating my new hire to the environment, I create a structured 4-week schedule, coupled by a milestone 2-month schedule. The last thing I want is for my new person to walk into an unorganized environment. A schedule takes away the pressure for the new team member to figure things out on their own.
To avoid misunderstandings on expectations, I involve new project team members in a two-way conversation about expectations on both sides. Involving them in the dialogue shows respect for their input and will go a long way in gaining their loyalty and retention.
“While the calendar invites might seem to be time consuming, consider the alternative: calendar invites for screening candidates.”
As the project lead, I believe it is my responsibility to ensure the success of my new team member. I take a vested interest in their growth. At the onset, I set calendar appointments to meet with them for 15-minutes on a weekly or bi-weekly basis for the first couple of months to review their progress on their established milestones. The key is to be engaged as a leader and keep them engaged as a team member. While the calendar invites might seem to be time consuming, consider the alternative: calendar invites for screening candidates.
Communicate with them before their first day
Once I receive acceptance of the job offer from my new hire, I put the onboarding plan into motion and reach out to them. A letter and a phone call go a long way in making folks feel welcomed—even if the phone call is from a fellow team member. Taking the time to engage with the new hire early sets them at ease and relieves anxiety.
Be creative in how you welcome them on their first day
It’s true, you never get a second chance to make a first impression, so I make it count. I’ve done things such as making their space welcoming by leaving a signed thank you card to having a “welcome to the team!” email waiting for them in their inbox. If time and budget allows, breakfast in the breakroom or lunch with the team is a nice treat. Create a fun tradition that every new hire experiences. Do whatever you need to do to make their first experience memorable.
“I’ve done things such as making their space welcoming by leaving a signed thank you card to having a “welcome to the team!” email waiting for them in their inbox.”
For my projects, simple is best. I create a basic checklist and I make it a point to put activities on my calendar as it pertains to meeting with the new team member scheduling group meetings. While there are a plethora of checklists out there on the Internet, many can be a bit convoluted to the point that we are creating a new project. Keep it simple!
Do you have a checklist of your own for bringing on new project team members? What has been your most memorable onboarding experience? Please share in the comments!
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