Pro Tips: How to Accelerate Onboarding

In a competitive job market, talent turnover remains high—so effective onboarding is essential to ensure project teams seamlessly deliver value. PMI asked project professionals around the world: How do you get new team members up to speed—and fast?

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Fast-track their path to learning—and productivity
An onboarding plan should map the team's needs and how the newcomer’s role and responsibilities help fill those needs. This plan should describe the processes, tools, good practices and available resources the new hire should utilize. The development team is responsible for this plan, and the newcomer should contribute to this plan with a fresh perspective. I have had mixed experiences as a newcomer. The worst was when there was no onboarding of any kind. I was completely lost and had to ask people around for help. The very best experience was when I got assigned a mentor for a few weeks. That mentor taught me all the essentials for doing my job. As a result, I became productive in a very short time.
Jose Lopez, software engineering and development manager, Abbott, Los Angeles

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Immerse them in workplace culture—and watch them grow
Work is heavily influenced by the organization's culture—whether it’s understanding everyone’s role or ensuring there are strong diversity, equity and inclusion principles. The sooner new team members are made aware of and understand that culture, the sooner they understand their position and the ways they can contribute productively. For instance, we invite new team members to join our team dinners and gatherings well before their official start date. The commitment that my team showed in making me feel welcome revealed a lot about the organization's culture. My line manager involved me in decision-making activities right from the very first day of work. The rest of the org showed flexibility in work hours and location well before the pandemic, emphasized collaboration among different teams in different parts of the organization, and highlighted the opportunity to bring positive impact in HealthCare IT. This helped me to respond to expectations very fast, thus accelerating my onboarding and enriching my experience. By understanding the organization's vision, mission and goals, new hires can figure out where they fit in, what motivates them and how they can grow and develop a long-term work relationship with the company.
Krishna Kumar Nanjundaprasad, solutions architect, Agfa HealthCare, Bonn, Germany

Headshot of Anand Abhishek

Give them a mentor—and the opportunity to struggle 
Pairing a new employee with an experienced colleague can accelerate basic knowledge transfer, introduction to teams and access to necessary tools and sites. A mentor can help new team members socialize and provide a shadow for showing how things get done. A mentor can give a new employee a go-to source for insights—which is really important, because new hires can have doubts and might be hesitant to seek help. By making it clear to them that there are no stupid questions, new employees will open up, get clarity and gain confidence from the start. A good mentor can also help reduce their fears of making mistakes—and teach them how to course-correct along the way.
Anand Abhishek, project manager, EY, Bengaluru

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Welcome their input—and build confidence
Incorporate an open-door policy. New team members should feel that they can throw a quick 15- to 30-minute meeting on a team member’s calendar whenever they need to talk through a process or if they have any concerns. Unwavering access—whether it’s an in-person meeting or a video call—signals that the team respects and wants to hear from the new team member, which in turn leads to safety, trust and feeling valued by the new team member. Once this is achieved, the new team member will be up and running in no time.
Udo Ity, PMP, senior project leader, Edward Jones, Olathe, Kansas, USA