Project teams are put together at the beginning of the project, but they don’t always stay that way for the whole duration. People leave the project team for a variety of reasons, anything from retirement to a new job, or simply that they aren’t needed on the team any more as their particular tasks are completed.
People also join the team at different points. You’ll find that your project is likely to have someone new join when the rest of the team is quite established. Getting that new person up to speed so that they can contribute effectively is your job as the project manager, and here are some tips about what they need to know so that you can get them started more quickly.
The project’s objectives might not be completely obvious from the project planning tools that you are using so it will help your new team member if you go through exactly what the project is trying to achieve. Cover off the objectives and goals along with any success criteria or points of special importance that you think you should share.
This is also a good conversation in which to include the project team’s values. What sort of culture do you have on the team and what behaviour do you expect your new team member to adopt?
Your new project team member is probably going to be most interested in this – what they will be doing day to day. Their project activities could be relatively straightforward or a significant challenge, so it is worth spending an adequate amount of time with them to explain what they are doing and check that they are comfortable with it. They may feel that they need extra support or coaching for some of the tasks and together you can work out the best way to provide this, either from you as the project manager or another experienced project team member.
It’s also important to explain to them about how their work fits into the overall project and what difference their contribution is making. Talk to them about the key interfaces for their tasks and who is reliant on the work produced by their activities as there could be someone else on the team who can’t start their work until a deliverable is completed by this individual.
Who Is On The Team
Introduce them to the rest of the team! This sounds obvious, but I have known project managers forget to do this, especially for remote team members who work on the team virtually. It isn’t enough to walk your new colleague around the office and introduce them to the people who work there. They also need to know who is at the other end of the instant messaging software or in a different building, so don’t leave anyone out!
The easiest way to do this is to use a team contact list. If your project management software includes a list of project team members, you could also use this to ensure that the new person has had the chance to meet and talk to everyone.
Also cover the roles and responsibilities of each person on the team, and what their areas of speciality are. This will help the new person identify who to talk to if they have a problem in the future.
Remember to talk to your team members about what tools are available to help them do their work. This could be anything from a shared library of templates so they don’t have to create project documents from scratch to your online timesheet application which will help them track their progress by recording the hours spent on each task.
They will need a user name and password to access some of these tools so make sure that these are created in a timely fashion and they can get started straight away.
You will be gathering project status reports and progress updates from everyone else on the team, and your new team member will have to follow the same process. Talk to them about what your expectations are for when reports and updates will be received. If you have any standard format for them to follow or need them to cover any particular points in their reports, make sure that they are aware of this.
Finally, it’s a good idea to make them aware of any boundaries that they have got for doing their work. There may be some decisions that they can make themselves but others will need to be referred to you. Discuss the tolerances and flexibility that they have within the role and provide some examples of things that should be escalated to you along with things that they can progress themselves. For example, delaying a project task by a week as long as this doesn’t affect the overall end date is something that I would suggest they could do by themselves. But if delaying the task does affect the overall end date for the project then they should let you know and you can decide the best course of action together.
Of course, how long it takes for your new project team member to get up to speed and start making a real contribution to the team will depend on how experienced they are and what you are expecting them to do. If their bit of the project is relatively easy and doesn’t involve many other people, you can expect them to get started almost straight away. But if they are joining in a more complex position, they could take longer to integrate into the team and need more help. Either way, these areas are good discussion points for your initial meetings and will help them feel part of the team.
The resource management and team planning features in our software will help your whole team establish their roles and tasks. Set up timesheets, delegate work, create targeted reports and track progress all from one online intuitive interface.