How to Implement Project Onboarding & Why It Matters

POST on Project Management by Jamie Johnson

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Once your new project is approved by management, it’s time to get to work. You’ve got a good idea of what work lies ahead, and all you have to do is get the team together. You can’t, however, just grab a bunch of people and tell them you’re working together now. Once you’ve selected the individuals who’d be a right match for the project, you’ve got to get the project onboarding right.

8 Steps to Successful Project Onboarding

Project onboarding gives new team members the opportunity to reach a common understanding of the project and the desired deliverables. It also lets everyone know what their role is and what is expected of them.

The strength of your team will be crucial to the success of your project. And this begins with your onboarding process.

It is important to keep in mind that context matters when it comes to project onboarding. You must consider the people you will be working with, the industry you are in, and the organization you are working for.

And without some sort of structure to your project, chaos can quickly set it. After all, the people you are welcoming onto your team may not have ever worked together before.

Let’s look at the eight steps that will make your project onboarding a success, most of which should be done during the project kickoff meeting:

Step #1: Welcome your team members

The first step is to simply welcome your new team members onto the project. Let each person know what their role is on the project and what you expect from them. It can be helpful to give everyone a welcome packet that they can refer back to.

This is also a good time to get any necessary paperwork finalized. This will give you a chance to address any issues before the project has begun. You don’t want to be several months into your project and realize you hired the wrong person.

Step #2: Initiate personal introductions

Have everyone introduce themselves and share a little bit about their background. This is a good chance for everyone to get to know each other and to build team unity.

Even if some of your team members are virtual, you should make sure they are given a personal introduction as well. This will make them feel like they are a part of the team and will help them stay plugged in.

Step #3: Review policies and procedures

Now that everyone in the group is familiar with each other, take some time to meet with each person one-on-one. Every company has its own set of guidelines and standards they will expect employees to meet.

Fill them in on any policies and procedures relevant to your project. Let them know where they can access this information on their own.

Step #4: Give everyone access to the necessary tools and resources

Making sure everyone on the team is set up with any user accounts and tools that will be necessary for working on the project. Now everyone will have access to the project resources and tools. This can mean documents such as the project charter (a document describing project goals, vision, team, etc.), or communication tools such as Slack. You should also ensure that all team members are set up with their necessary workspace and equipment.

Step #5: Provide any necessary training

Some team members may not be familiar with the project management software you will be using. Make sure to provide adequate training early on so this doesn’t become an issue down the road.

Step #6: Share your vision with the team

Now that you have gotten past the nuts and bolts of the project, you can share your vision with the team. Every project has a larger goal and a strategic way that it will benefit the company so you will want to share this with your team members.

What is your overarching goal for the project and what the team will accomplish? It is essential for every team member to understand not only why the project is important but why they are important to the project.

Step #7: Set them up for success on day one

One day one, nobody should be left wondering what they are supposed to be doing. Make sure each person knows what they are responsible for when each task should be completed by, and who they will be reporting to. This will save you from having to waste time micromanaging team members down the road.

Step #8: Have a three-month orientation process

This will be the lengthiest and also the most critical part of the project onboarding process. The first seven steps are necessary but they are not enough on their own. As the project manager, it is crucial that you meet with your team members frequently. This will allow you to track their progress, address any points of friction among the group, and offer them suggestions going forward.

Conclusion

Team projects can quickly turn into a huge source of frustration for everyone involved. However, a well-managed team can also be a powerful source of change within your organization. Project onboarding is an important part of setting your team up for success early on.

When you are onboarding new team members there are several things you will want to reinforce to them. You will want to share the vision and core values of the project, the role each person will play, and possible challenges they may encounter. Each person should know that you will be there to provide coaching for them and to hold them accountable.

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