Did you know it takes at least 90 days to successfully onboard a new employee?
It can take even longer for hiring key management roles – like project managers.
Onboarding a project manager – especially your first one – can be a daunting task.
When you are the founder, it can be stressful and anxiety-provoking to hand over key business processes and client communications to someone on your team for the first time. Having well-documented systems and processes in place can make the onboarding process a little easier.
In this post, we share actionable strategies and tips to help you successfully onboard your new project manager, including:
- Why employee onboarding processes important?
- What are the key stages of onboarding a new project manager?
- Before their first day
- What to do on their first day
- What to do within their first week
- What to do within the first 30 days
- What to do within the first 90 days
- 6 tips for a smooth onboarding process
- Create an internal wiki for your marketing agency
- Keep your processes up-to-date
- Make sure your processes fit within your project management software and existing team workflows
- Assign a buddy to your new project manager
- Start with smaller, internal projects before assigning them to client projects
- Set expectations with KPIs upfront
Why employee onboarding processes are important?
There are two main stages of onboarding new project managers (PMs) to your agency. That’s introducing them to your company and team as well as getting them in the loop on specific projects and/or client accounts they’ll be handling. Both are critical to their successful ramp-up.
What are the key stages of onboarding a new project manager?
One of the most effective ways to onboard a new PM – or any employee for that matter – is to approach it in time increments. This is usually what they should know on their first day, first week, first month, and first 3 months on the job.
Before their first day
Onboarding doesn’t start on your new project manager’s first day. It actually starts when you first made the decision to recruit a project manager and/or post a job ad.
Before you can onboard your new project manager, it is important that you – i.e. the founder – change your mindset.
As your new project manager gets more comfortable in their role, they will begin to communicate with clients directly, and ensure important things – such as client deliverables – don’t fall through the cracks. While this will be a gradual process, you as the founder can start to let go of some of the client communication that were all you before.
This transition will take time. If you want your project manager to be successful, you’ll need to invest time and resources to ensure they have what they need to do a great job.
Pro Tip: Using project management software specifically for agencies – such as ProcessKit – can not only help your new project manager but also gives you – the founder – clear visibility into what’s going on.
What to do on their first day
You only get one chance to make a first impression. That’s why on their first day, it is important to be friendly and introduce them to the team.
Pro Tip: One way to take this a step further is to send them a welcome gift on their first day like chocolate chip cookies and a welcome card signed by their team.
Because it is their first day, you don’t want to completely overwhelm them. Here are some key tasks you might want to complete:
- Fill out any employee paperwork – like W2s, health insurance, 401k forms if in the U.S. or other forms if in another country, etc.
- Make intros to key team members they will be working with the most
- Share more information about your agency’s mission, values, and team culture
What to do within their first week
On days 2-5, you want to slowly ease them into their role. Some key tasks you might want to do are:
- Go over the key services offered and team processes
- Provide any necessary training on any software used
- Learn the ins and outs of the project management software and tools they will be using
- Go over key responsibilities and expectations for their role
- Teach them about how new projects are created, prioritized, and managed within your project management systems and processes
- Meet with everyone on their team and any key accounts or additional stakeholders
- Give them plenty of time to shadow other people on the team
- Create and agree upon a 30-60-90 day plan along with any KPIs
What to do within the first 30 days
After their first week or two on the job, your new project manager should begin to take over some tasks.
For example, here is what a new PM’s first 30 days might entail:
- Transition and start to work through any initial projects
- Observe and develop a full assessment of the projects and team
- Identify any challenges and put together a plan for how to address them
- Have an understanding of any legacy projects that they are taking over
What to do within the first 90 days
By the end of their third month, you’ll likely find that your new project manager is fully ramped up.
They are no longer just observing and planning. They’re now working independently on their daily tasks.
This is also a great time to check-in with them about not only their 90-day goals but also ask for any suggestions for how you can improve the onboarding process moving forward.
6 tips for a smooth onboarding process
Creating an onboarding checklist – like the one above- that lists out key criteria from before they start their new role to 90 days in is a great start.
In addition, here are six additional tips to help you and your new project manager get off on the right foot.
1. Create an internal wiki for your marketing agency
An internal wiki is where all of your key business processes and SOPs live. It is the single source of truth where all of your onboarding processes and checklists should live.
If your agency runs things in a very process-oriented way, then it’s best to integrate your wiki/SOP library with where your team runs their tasks. ProcessKit gives you that searchable wiki/process library that’s ready for your team to use.
2. Keep your processes up-to-date
What’s the point of having a Wiki if your processes and SOPs are outdated or if no one uses them? Your processes should be living documents that get updated anytime anything changes.
In fact, you can even task your new PM for making sure all of your processes stay up to date and are used by the team.
3. Make sure your processes fit within your project management software and existing team workflows
One of the biggest mistakes we see agencies make is that their processes live in silos and aren’t integrated with their project management software and team workflows.
The first step is documenting your processes.
The next step is making sure that your processes are built into your existing team and client workflows. This creates a more streamlined, predictable agency and ensures that the quality is consistent.
Pro Tip: Even if you are happy with your project management software, we recommend encouraging your project manager to make any improvements. This gives your new hire a sense of ownership, and you can discover new ways to improve your workflows and processes.
4. Assign a buddy to your new project manager
If you were like me and you moved a few times as a kid, the first day at a new school could be a little intimidating. You were walking into school, knowing no one.
New employees can also feel like “the new kid” on their first day at their new job. One way you can mitigate this is to assign your new project manager a buddy. This is someone they can go to over the first few weeks and any questions they might otherwise be afraid to ask.
5. Start with smaller, internal projects before assigning them to client projects
This is particularly important when you are onboarding your first project manager. Since you are still getting used to delegating these responsibilities for the first time and they are brand new to the agency, there is no need to rush the process.
For example, start with an internal project where the stakes are lower. This way, if they have a lot of questions, it takes longer to complete than usual, or they make a mistake as they are still learning, it doesn’t impact a client.
6. Set expectations with KPIs upfront
You can’t manage what you don’t measure. Make sure you and your new project manager decide on KPIs within their first month or two on the job.
This is a great way to hold them accountable without having to micromanage them.
When it comes to onboarding a new project manager, one of the most important things you can do is to document and get all of your processes in order. This allows for a smoother transition and gives your project manager the best chance of being successful in the role.
Looking to onboard your next project manager? The onboarding process goes smoother with ProcessKit. Sign up for a free trial today.