Don’t Skip a Beat

We asked the project management community: How do you get new team members up to speed midproject?

START THE DISCUSSION

“To get new team members to master their roles and responsibilities, my approach is to get them to talk about how they will structure their daily tasks in standup meetings from the get-go. That opens up a conversation and also allows for interactive input from the other experienced and knowledgeable team members. By doing this, new team members will be able to demonstrate an understanding of their role by communicating their daily rudimentary tasks and begin to comprehend their value to the team and to progress.”

—Tariro Dodzo, software engineer and project manager, Effcomm UK, London, England

SHARE THE MEMO

“Within the first few days of a new team member coming on board, my team and I distribute a one-page memo that provides all pertinent information about the project. It includes the name of the chosen vendor, whether the application or hardware is new or an upgrade and how the new application or hardware will be used. This document also includes a list of high-level responsibilities of all parties, including the vendor, the business unit and IT. During the new member’s second week, we hold a more in-depth meeting that provides greater detail on each project and allows plenty of time for the person to ask questions. Next, they shadow either a business analyst or project manager for about a week. All of these steps help explicitly outline the new team member’s role and responsibilities.”

—Suzan Awad Abdurrahman, PMP, IT project manager, Reedy Creek Improvement District, Lake Buena Vista, Florida, USA

TRAINING DAYS

“We have training sessions to build knowledge and on-the-job training to provide hands-on experience. The training sessions are arranged by team leads and tech managers and explain all details about the project, including overview, architecture, impacted systems, integrations, deployment structure, coding standards and documentation. There might be a Q&A toward the end to give new members some freedom to ask relevant questions. On-the-job training is all about making new members work under full guidance of the senior developers so they get used to the working environment and culture and steadily increase their knowledge and capabilities to work independently.”

—Krishnan Rangachari, principal solutions architect, Tech Mahindra, Pune, India

GO WITH THE FLOW

“Getting new team members up to speed is one of many reasons you need a board that explicitly shows work flow. This enables new members—and the rest of the team—to always see how work is done, but it doesn’t require extra documentation because it’s part of how you do everything. A good board reflects the work being done and should make status meetings unnecessary. It also enables new team members to very quickly understand how work is processed by the team.”

—Al Shalloway, CEO, Net Objectives, Seattle, Washington, USA

BE PATIENT

“After the organizational onboarding process is completed, I like to pair new team members with a buddy who can reinforce onboarding and facilitate the transition to the project team. Also, inviting them to shadow a project manager and technical lead for the first few days can help. Assign them small tasks and give them plenty of room to make mistakes and ask questions. If you show a little patience, they eventually understand the tasks and work with the team. Very soon you have a valuable resource.”

—Sagarika Basak, PMP, senior project manager, ITC Secure Networking, London, England

COMFORT LEVEL

“When a client-side transition happens, we request the client project manager to take the new team member through their own project scope and stakeholder map. Then we run the person through the last few weekly reports, going two to three weeks back, starting with the most recent. This ensures that the client-side stakeholder is able to ask intelligent questions at the next review, which helps their buy-in in a big way.

After the weekly reports run-through, we introduce new people to the delivery team
and explain each member’s role. If a new team member is on the client side, we find that he
 or she is usually looking to answer two basic questions: Where are we on the project? And how can I contribute meaningfully? I help them answer both during the transition discussion.”

—Nidhi Arora, PMI-ACP, PMP, co-founder and director, TopGain Consulting Pvt Ltd., New Delhi, India 

Source: PM Network 11/2017 - 2017 PMI PROJECT OF THE YEAR WINNER

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