In an ideal world, the team you begin any project with will be the same team which you work with throughout the entire process. The departure or arrival of new team members, if not handled correctly, can often unbalance the workings of your team and cause delays and breakdown of communication.

Unfortunately, you cannot always work in an ideal work and you may need to introduce a new team member to your project part-way through the process for a variety of reasons. Someone may leave the company, another team member may be underperforming or you may just need extra help or specific skills and expertise in order to get the project done on time.

So what project management skills do you need to ensure you introduce your new team member correctly in order to make any transition as smooth as possible?

Be transparent

The first thing you should do when you know you are going to be bringing a new team member on board is to be upfront and honest with the client. You do not want your client to think that you have been misleading them in any way. You should give your client as much information about the new team member as possible including previous work experience with the company if you can. This will ensure that your client doesn’t get concerned about any potential drop in the level of service you are providing.

Fill your new team member in

Your new recruit will need as much information about your project as possible before they join the team. Aim to give them a full briefing and copies of all the project documentation, including schedules, updates, forecasts and the introductory presentation material. You new team member will need all this information in order to see where the project began and where you and your team have gotten to at the point of them joining the team.

Introductions

Arrange for your new team member and the rest of the team to have an introductory meeting. Here everyone can get familiar with each other and if your new team member is due to be working closely with anyone else on the project, this is a good chance for them to catch up with their progress and begin their new working relationship on a good note.

Once your new team member has been introduced to the rest of your team then you may also want to arrange an introduction between your new team member and your client so that they can meet the new addition who will be working on their project.

Shadow period

If possible, it is a good idea to have your new addition shadow the project for a week or two before they officially join the ranks. This allows them to see how you work together as a team and to get a solid idea of exactly where the project is at and where it is heading, much like a project management apprentice might shadow a mentor. If you have lost a team member then this might not always be possible but it can be very advantageous.