Despite the unwritten rule that small teams work better, sometimes you may need to bring in some extra helping hands to get a project done. Here’s how to make the process as painless as possible.
When a project’s scope grows mid-stream, you may find yourself and your team suddenly incapable of keeping up. Or you simply may be experiencing the natural growth of your company, requiring new workforce to be hired. Or maybe you’re experimenting with a new, unexpected activity, for which it may be worth investing in new people and skills.
Regardless of which scenario you’re in, one thing for sure is: a new team member is coming.
Every team as its own balance, habits, and workflow. Having a new team member on board will definitely be an enrichment (and sometimes, a saving grace). On the other hand, you as the manager will want to avoid any disruption and make sure the addition goes smoothly.
How to bring in people mid-project: a checklist
Prepare the set up for the new person to work:
- Create accounts in the tools and services you use
- Prepare a physical space (desk, chair etc) if needed
- Provide equipment (laptop and such, unless you’ve established otherwise)
Make sure that the new person is set up and ready to start. Given that you’ve already taken care of the bureaucracy of hiring, contracts and so on, prepare accounts, permissions, and add the newcomer to the tools your team is using. You’ll save a lot of time and he/she will begin to work immediately.
Prepare the briefing, including:
- The scope of the project
- Details of the tasks
- Status of the project
- Who’s in charge of what
- Client contact information (if needed)
- Material (documents, files, images, etc)
A killer briefing is vital for any project, even more so if you have to update a person who’s just arrived and has no idea what’s been done so far.
Make sure that he/she’s given a brief outline of the project and its scope. List all the tasks required, and make sure to include the ones that have been already done.
It should be also immediately clear who will be in charge of what, to avoid roles overlapping and disrupting each other.
In case the new team member is expected to interact with the client directly, then make sure to pass over the client contact information, too. An introduction meeting with you, the new team member, and the client may also be necessary.
It may take up some of your time, but one of the upsides is that while you prepare the briefing you’ll also have the chance to assess the project’s progress, and take stock of what’s been done that far, which never hurts.
Set up responsibilities and expectations
- Who will be in charge of what from that moment on
- Which tasks/responsibilities are to be taken on by the newcomer
- Who to direct questions to
Having a new person on board can change the balance and workflow of the team. It’s important that the work is organized so that everybody knows what they supposed to do.
Define who’s in charge of what, and who to call in case unexpected problems arise.
Bringing a new resource will inevitably change the expectations over the whole project: don’t leave anything unsaid and make sure everybody knows what they’re supposed to do from that moment on.
On big projects with established teams, the stakes may be high. Don’t let your fresh resource succumb to pressure, but don’t hide your expectations, either.
Prepare yourself for questions
You didn’t think your responsibilities were over, did you?
Even if you’ve set things correctly and the work is proceeding steadily prepare yourself and be available for questions.
Bear in mind that a first period of adaptation will be necessary for everybody – so you may need to repeat and review many things multiple times, and that’s ok.
Monitor things closely
Keep an eye on the situation from time to time to make sure everything is going ok. You don’t have to watch your employees like a hawk, otherwise they may feel the pressure to perform- especially the latest arrival!
You can watch their work discretely, via your project management tool or a time tracking tool. Many of these tools provide project managers with a summary and team views where they can check the progress.
To ease the whole process, take advantage of any tool and feature that can automate the most tedious parts of the job. After all, a period of adaptation will be necessary for you, too, especially if you manage multiple projects.
From time to time, you can organize short check-in meetings. Try not to overdo it, though, as meetings are notoriously one of the most hated parts of everybody’s work.
What are your best tips for onboarding new people into a project? Let us know in the comments!