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StrategyFeb 09, 2018

How to Onboard New Team Members Faster

Brett Davis

Project teams can morph into complex structures that grow and retract frequently. Adding a new team member to an ongoing project can bring new life to a team at best, and, at worst, it may slow the entire team’s momentum. While every project team is different, there are many ways a team can successfully welcome a new team member.

New Team Member Checklist

  • Build an organization chart including the email addresses, phone numbers, and job titles of the people who the new team member will interact with regularly or need to consult with frequently. Use the 80/20 rule to determine what should be included.

  • Update and share project introduction documents. Kickoff presentations, statements of work, schedules, or budgets might have changed since you kicked off the project, so make sure the most relevant information is shared. Gather summarized business objectives, financial and industry knowledge, and SWOT analyses.

  • Schedule an introductory meeting for the new team member to meet the team. Take time to share main responsibilities, recent progress, current objectives, and future work. Also, be sure to have someone take notes the new team member can reference to know who is working on specific aspects of the project.

  • Ask technical leads to explain the basics of unfamiliar systems to the new team member. Develop a list of the most frequently used terms and acronyms so the new team member understands regular communication.

  • Create a list of as many relevant access and permission requirements as you can and have a schedule for gathering prerequisite information. This will ensure the new team member receives tools and permissions as soon as possible. Be sure to delegate responsibility so access issues don’t delay the project.

  • If the new team member is replacing someone, try to include a week or two of overlap between the previous team member leaving and new team member starting for transition support. Sometimes this can be difficult logistically, but it can make a big impact on initiative continuity.

  • Remain approachable throughout the transition to encourage communication and questions along the way. Check in frequently to give work assignments and track progress. This will clarify expectations and provide direction.

  • Ask questions about work style so you can allocate responsibility efficiently:

    • How do you like to work?

    • How do you like to see requirements?

    • What are your strengths?

Use this list the next time you need to add staff to your team, and consider the amount of time you may save by addressing these needs before the new person joins your team. These tasks will become increasingly more difficult as onboarding the new team member draws near. Take some advice from Benjamin Franklin: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

Comment below with your favorite customizations or additions to this checklist!