How to treat the new guy

It’s happened to you, to me, to all of us.  It’s your first day at a new job. How often have you been given the royal treatment?

While it’s fine to be simply given a desk and shown the coffee machine and rest room, the best project managers and team leads will go a few steps further to show you that you are valued and welcomed.

How many of the following have you experienced?

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Seven Instructions to the Aspiring Project Manager in Bringing in a New Person

Dear Project Manager.  Yes – you are busy.  But this doesn’t diminish the importance of taking the time to do the right thing by your new team member.  What you do in their first few days and weeks will go a long way towards helping – or hindering – their productivity and integration into the team.

1.  Make sure that they have a desk, chair, and working PC when they arrive.

Fill out all the procurement paperwork and notify tech services well in advance.  Don’t just send the request and hope for the best.  Keep following up until the equipment arrives, is set up, is configured properly and the new team member granted all the proper accesses.

2.  Team them up with one of your most friendly and effective team members.

Important:  Make sure that this is okay with your existing person FIRST.  Having a buddy will greatly speed their process of learning your organization’s culture and norms.

3.  Give them everything they need to accomplish at least one task successfully in the first week.

4.  Provide them with the Cliffs Notes version of the most important processes.

These should be the things which define your project management best practices.  Some examples are file naming conventions, versioning methods, examples of document templates, etc. (You do use templates on your projects don’t you?

5.  Give them a high level view of the most important business goals for your organization

When you are finished this five minute overview, they should know exactly how what they will be doing will directly impact the bottom line.

6.  Sketch out a chart or mind-map which connects them with their immediate team members, other stakeholders, and important people to know throughout the organization.

Include names and roles for each.

7.  Tell them explicitly that you will be available for questions at any time over the next few weeks and months.

Let them know how you prefer to be contacted (text message, drop in, email only, etc.).  If you are not available or won’t be available, walk them over and introduce them in person to their buddy on the team (see item 2 above).

Expect that you will need to go over most of the items on the list 2 or 3 times.  Be patient, warm and welcoming.

Do you do these things when you welcome a new person?  What has been your best (or worst) experience upon starting a new assignment?  Let us know in the comments.


Soma 21 September 2008 at 2:07 am

Hi Alec,

Thanks for the wonderful article. I had a great welcome and good support system when I joined the team and I try to make sure that everyone who’s joining the team feels the same way.

2 Alec 21 September 2008 at 1:41 pm

Hi Soma,

Great to hear that the article reminded you of how well you were treated when you joined your team. I’m sure your team members appreciate you.


PM Hut 22 September 2008 at 11:58 am

It’s a nice article. I’m wondering though, is it really the job of the Project Manager to welcome new people?

This probably fits more as a task for the Functional Manager, unless the Project Manager is also acting as a Functional Manager (this usually happens in small companies).


Alec 22 September 2008 at 3:03 pm

Hi PM Hut,

Welcome and thanks for your comments. You raise a good issue, which wasn’t clear in my post. Even if the new team member reports to a functional manager, it’s going to be up to the project manager to make sure that the new person is integrated into the project team.

My personal belief is that the project manager can almost never err on the side of doing more for the people on his or her team. Assuming that people are not being fully briefed on the team norms seems like a fair assumption – based on the organizations I’ve worked with. It would be nice to hear that functional managers are doing a good job welcoming new hires. Things may be changing for the better in this area.

Wish you well. Alec

Alec Satin
Alec Satin

Your editor is a Bible-believing Christian with no illusions about our darkening age. Keep reading your KJV. If you don’t have one, get a printed copy with good type and read it every day. May God bless you, keep you, and protect you.