Onboarding New Project Managers

Team Members on a bench

Employees are the foundation of your organization. They add value with the skills and knowledge that they bring to the team. They also convey a tiny element of the company culture. A new person hired into a team causes a shift in the overall personality and focus of the group. Even though the standard projects and daily work may remain the same, employees become a working part of the DNA of the team and also of the organization. Sometimes this environmental shift may be indiscernible, but with each hire, you create a slightly different team that will help determine the overall achievements of the group.

Onboarding plays a critical role in the success of transitioning new project managers. The onboarding process sets the stage for how well the new project manager integrates into the job and team members. New employees get a first impression of the job they will be doing by how well they are introduced to the new work environment. Glassdoor recently found that organizations with a robust onboarding process improve new hire retention by 82 percent and productivity by over 70 percent.

There is also the financial side to new employee hires. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics identified that there were 5.8 million hires in July 2020. There were also about 5.0 million departures during that same time. Although COVID plays a factor in this and other studies, organizations spend an average cost of $6,110 to replace an employee. This cost alone is a valuable reason to make onboarding a priority.

Surprisingly, Gallup advisory company found that only 12% of employees think their leaders organize a useful onboarding process. Here are a few things to consider if you want to create a dynamic hiring process that helps to increase productivity, improve culture, and reduce costs. Ensure your approach is consistent with each employee to maintain continuity in the hiring process for all new employees. This process gives them a sense of being a part of the team.

Have a Plan That…

…Demonstrations to New Employees their Value

You are setting the tone for what value you place on your employees. Words are nice to hear, but it’s actions make a new hire feel welcome and valued. Take time to show your appreciation for their choice to join the team. The most important aspect of these activities is authenticity. Think about what would show someone on the team that they are valued for their role in making the team a success. There are many ways to express this type of value to a new hire. You can send an email or put a card on their desk telling them that you are glad they bring their specific skill to the group. You can add to that small item for the desk to show them they are part of the team. Stop by for a few minutes to see how they are doing or ask if they need anything.

…Shows Awareness of the Team Culture

Each team has an environmental culture. It is made up of each team member’s personality and the place they are working. Some cultures occur naturally, while others are created more intentionally. As with any group of people, activities that both strengthen and fracture the team impact the overall work environment. Make sure new employee are introduced to the culture and understand its importance to the team. If you do not currently have a strong understanding of your culture’s strengths and weakness, there is value in taking time to identify the components of your culture. This aspect of onboarding helps not only new employees, but also existing employees.

…Effectively Integrates New Hires into the Work System

Make sure the new project manager can start finding their fit in the team on day one. Paperwork and training will need to be completed, but it helps if they know where they are going. Have a system in place that shows a new manager what tasks or projects are first in line for them once they have completed all the paperwork and processes typically included in onboarding. This advanced information helps new employees more effectively and efficiently start the work they will need to begin. A clear path forward enhances a new employee’s sense of purpose and connection to the job. It also shows the employee that they do play an essential role within the company.

…Introduces New Folks to Other Team Members

One of the challenges with onboarding is to help new employees find their place within the team. It is beneficial to have ways for a new project manager to learn who does what. That way, if they have questions or want to learn more about their project, they will know who to contact. Meeting other team members also makes for a quicker integration into the culture and activities of the workday. One way to help with introductions is to have a book available containing a one-page introduction of team members that outlines their name, job title, and current project lists. You can also add small welcome meetings throughout the first week, so that the new employee can slowly get to know the other members of the team. The goal is to let them start to learn about the team and the work without overwhelming them with too much information at one time.

…Provides Ample Information about Protocols and Added Benefits

Many companies place most of their emphasis on the paperwork and process part of onboarding. Obviously, it’s important for a new project manager to fill out all the paperwork and learn about benefits and other essential business processes and protocol aspects, but do your best to make it as simple and seamless as possible. It is a necessary part of the onboarding process that can either be accomplished in person or online, depending on your procedure.

…Provides Support and Training Opportunities

MPUG offers over 500 hours of self-directed on-demand training videos, weekly live interactive web training created and presented by industry experts, and the chance to earn PMI® PDUs across all categories of the PMI® talent triangle. Offer your new hires a MPUG membership. It will give them access to the training they will need. It’s a win-win for them and for your organization. Content is crowd vetted by over 650k users with 98% user satisfaction.  When implemented consistently, these onboarding activities will help introduce new project managers more effectively into the culture and work of your organization or team.

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Written by Dr. Lynette Reed

Writer, researcher and advisor on human potential for personal and organizational development, Dr. Lynette Reed has mentored people from in businesses, not-for-profits, schools, allied health agencies, chambers of commerce, government and churches. She has taught courses on team building, leadership, ethics, world religion and world cultures. Her current literary contributions include an executive summary paperback titled, Fixing the Problem: Making Changes in How You Deal with Challenges, as well as book contributions, articles, guest radio appearances and a series of children’s books with Abingdon Press. She is also a co-founder and board member of the Institute for Soul-Centered Leadership at Seton Cove. Lynette holds a Doctor of Ministry in Spirituality, Sustainability, and Inter-Religious Dialogue and a Master of Science in Communication Sciences and Disorders. Contact her at expectations2reality@icloud.com.

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