It seems no matter where I look at job posts, I always see “We need a project manager” or “We need a project assistant”.
But what is a project manager and more importantly what is Project Management. This, my own made up question, can be answered by considering what project management is very good at facilitating and why it is used.
Project management is at its very best once you have determined why a project is necessary in the first place. Capturing the essence of what is needed to make the project parameters happen.
Project management is specifying the quality of the end result, estimating what resources are needed and in which timescale.
A Danish case is the current metro construction in Copenhagen. The project managers set up a timeframe for the construction. Defined the quality of the metro infrastructure and what it should cost. The present time is showing an indication of their success rate. They will properly be late according to the timeframe, which will either damage the quality or the budgeted cost. The company behind have done this before so we are probably looking at another increase in cost. This shows how these spheres are interconnected.
However, the advantages of a project management process are that it can develop and implement a plan for the project, and thereby manage the risks, issues and changes on the project. In the aforementioned case, they can more easily see and manage when issues occur and then doing their best to deal with them – or at least see how these issues will affect the quality, price and timescale of the project.
Now I, in my mind’s eye, am hearing my reader saying: “That sounds great!”.
Before I go into the “But” section of this blog post, it has to be said, that a project management process also is a good leading tool in motivating the team members, which also consists of the employees who have to make the project possible and who deliver the results.
But this short-lived nature of the project results in some challenges in the Pre- and Onboarding processes. This meaning: How do we make sure that the team members are introduced into the project in the best way and are there some things that are different from a “normal” Pre & Onboarding process in a company. Short answer: “Yes!”.
The headline of the process could sound like is: Give the new employees the full picture.
Do also consider what information does not need to be in the part of this picture. Consider, due to the short-life nature of project management, do the new team members need the full company history or only the part which is relevant to them? Or is storytelling about the founders and the road to the current success really necessary for them to to the project?
Give the team members the team-specific objectives in detail. Explain how the new member fit in the team, but also how the team fits into the broader project.
In the Metro construction, the tunnel worker needs to know how his work affects the broader picture. Tell him how his efforts are important for the end result. An advice I can give is, that the shorter the project is the more important Preboarding is. This because you have a limited time for the actual onboarding process the shorter the project is.
The day they start they should be ready to go to work. There should be little or no doubt about the project or their role. The outlines of their contribution and the result they have to deliver shall be clear. Only in this way, there will be a better cohesion of the project and the way it is managed. Find a way to communicate with them before they begin the work. This of cause does not mean, that there is no onboarding process at all. It just means that it is different. It should be more focused, intense and structured for the specific project at hand.
The next part is advice, which counts for a project in general, but it’s advantageous to apply these to the onboarding process within the Project Management.
Schedule regular intervals to check on the project.
Plan an interval where you check up on the team members progress, not only their work process but their mental process and health. • Be flexible. Trust that the new team members can work things out for themselves, but make sure that they know where the support systems are on the team.
Which leads to. Communicate with your team. Communicate your expectations to your team members, old and new. Furthermore, have a clear line of communication, so when issues come to light, they know where to go.
Address any problems before they occur. Prepare to meet problems head-on, the onboarding process this can be done, by planning a strict interval, where you have a status meeting with the new team members, on how things are going. • Provide direction. The project manager has the responsibility to keep the team informed and make sure that everything runs smoothly. This can also be achieved by having old team members show the new ones the robes, so you apply the resources you have at your disposal. This blog post has been a little schizophrenic, first project management, the pre & onboarding and then a mix of both processes. But the point is, that these processes have a lot in common, they both are dependent on communication, dependent of planning and of making the employee or team member safe in the work they are doing.
In other words, look at the pre & onboarding as any other project, you can manage.