How to accelerate the on-boarding of new project managers

The arrival of a new project manager can be seen by project teams both as an opportunity and a threat.

A new project manager will bring in new ideas and ways of doing things and will want to inevitably make changes.  This can make people feel uneasy, especially those who do not adapt so well to changes in the status quo. Equally the project manager will be a little nervous as well as ready to take on new challenges.  However, most will not walk through the door with all the knowledge and competencies they need to instantly assimilate into the role.

Nearly half of all project management offices have no formalised project manager on-boarding process, meaning the project manager misses out on the first chance to start building those key skills.

Developing a formal on-boarding process which incorporates some of the key points included in this post is one of the best ways to bring new project managers up to speed. The effectiveness of a project manager is the single biggest factor in the success of business project outcomes, so it’s essential you get your PMs onboard, fast!  

1. The importance of culture

Every new project manager will have their own style of management. To help the new project manager settle in and pull in the same direction from the off, it’s essential they understand the culture of the project and the team.

This cultural grounding can come from a number of sources. They will need to develop a comprehensive understanding of who is in the team, the roles they perform and their immediate colleagues. While organisation charts and resource management software are invaluable in this process, nothing beats one-on-one conversations.


2. Arrange a handover

If the new project manager is stepping into the shoes of another project manager, try to plan to overlap their starting and leaving dates by at least a week to allow for a comprehensive handover. The new project manager should attend meetings and shadow the existing project manager to learn the exact status of the project before they take the reigns for themselves. 

The project handover should include:

  • A project timeline and what has already been achieved. The new PM should also be made aware of any potential stumbling blocks that could hold up the delivery of the project.
  • The budget requirements, which can be notoriously difficult to understand if you’re coming into a project half way through. The outgoing project manager will need to spend some time going through the numbers and explaining the key decisions.
  • Any risks that have been identified should be highlighted along with the established paths to resolution. The new project manager will need to understand all the risks and what still needs to be done to resolve them.


3. Initiate new PMs on the job

Learning by doing can be a very effective method of accelerating the on-boarding process. Starting new project managers off on smaller, non-client projects is a luxury not all businesses can afford. If you can, this approach, supplemented by ongoing coaching and mentoring, can quickly lead to the level of refinement and improvement needed.

Familiarising the new project manager with the processes and tools they’ll have at their disposal on internal projects can be incredibly effective. They can then be de-briefed on how they did and what they need to improve before they take on client work.  


4. Explore technology-based project management solutions

An effective project management office (PMO) is a crucial component in the running of your projects. The right project management software gives the PMO access to real-time project information, dashboards and reports. Offering such tools allows PMs to see the impact of their decisions on budget, delivery time and risk before they make them. This can be an invaluable learning tool to help new project managers adapt to your project management landscape.


Setting in place a formal on-boarding process for project managers means that they can get up to speed and start being effective in running projects in the quickest possible time.

By using Hydra, Polycom accelerated onboarding of new project managers by 8 times, enabling them to reach efficiency and become top performers fast.  Read the case study to learn more about how Polycom achieved this.

If you would like to view Hydra software in action then please take a look at our free demo for an introduction to navigating the Hydra interface, creating projects and tasks and much more.  Your free demo is just a few clicks away.