How to Create a Project Manager Onboarding Plan ( Plus Free Template)
"In the last 24 hours, 82 promising leaders arrived into newly appointed executive roles. A year from now, 40 of them will have failed.
Nearly two-thirds of all leaders entering executive roles are not prepared for what they will face. That's probably why 50% of them fail." Rising to Power – The Journey of Exceptional Executives.
A good manager sets a positive tone for the entire workplace and is a good steward of the company culture.
You, too, can have a project manager who fits this definition. But it all begins with applying the right project manager onboarding plan.
Mess it up, and the effects will cascade down to the employee experience of the rest of your workforce.
It's essential to create an onboarding process that'll make the project manager feel supported. This guide will show you how to help them find their footing in your organization through proper communication and clear expectations.
✈️ Why is onboarding important for project managers?
An effective onboarding process:
- Provides your project manager with role clarity.
- Helps them develop the right relationships
- Helps them internalize company policies, culture, and values.
All these factors affect their productivity and the outcome of your business projects.
Pushing them to the management position without proper guidance leads to low morale and low engagement in the entire project team.
📝 Project manager onboarding plan: 30-60-90 day plan template
An effective project manager onboarding plan involves several activities set out in time increments.
Plan activities and goals for the first day, week, and first three months.
Here's a checklist you can use when onboarding project managers.
Days 1 – 30
In the first 30 days, inform your project manager.
They should learn which functions collaborate the most with the project management department and the people leading these functions.
Connect them with their team members.
Inspire the project manager with the company culture, mission, and vision of the organization just as you would when onboarding new employees in any role.
You don't want to overwhelm your project manager on the first day:
✅ Provide access to onboarding documentation.
✅ Provide an overview of your company culture, mission, and values.
✅ Set up their project workspace.
✅ Set up their calendar and fill it with upcoming meetings and company events.
➡️ Check out Zavvy's Onboarding Buddy program ready-to-use template.
✅ Assign the project manager onboarding and training journey.
✅ Introduce the project team members and team leaders from other departments they'll be collaborating with.
✅ Learn the strategic objectives of the company.
✅ Go over project management processes.
✅ Communicate the 30-60-90 onboarding plan.
✅ Set 30-day goals:
- Understand team dynamics.
- Set up internal and external networks.
- Cover knowledge gap.
What to cover in the first 30 days
✅ Learn about the company projects.
✅ Observe and assess the projects and the team.
✅ Learn the key expectations and responsibilities of their project management role.
✅ Meet up with key stakeholders.
✅ Weekly check-ins with the onboarding buddy.
✅ Attend internal meetings.
✅ Learn about the software and tools the organization uses for project success.
✅ Learn how to create, prioritize, and manage new projects.
✅ Talk to team members to assess their strengths and weaknesses to delegate tasks successfully.
✅ Sit with the team to conduct a SWOT analysis of the project management department.
✅ Record and implement new employee feedback.
✅ Check on 30-day goal progress.
✅ Focus on relationships and communication: Are they proactively engaging with team members and other departments? Are these people engaging proactively with the project manager?
Days 31 - 60
The project manager can start taking responsibility for projects where the stakes are lower.
This way, you create space for the project manager to make mistakes, ask questions, and delay progress. It helps them learn without impacting your clients.
✅ Set up short-term objectives aligned with project goals:
- Create own core processes for project management.
- Conduct a gap analysis of the department and turn threats and weaknesses into opportunities and strengths.
✅ Schedule regular feedback meetings
What to cover in the next 30 days
✅ Start to manage small internal projects.
✅ Identify any challenges, risks, and gaps in the project management processes and a plan on how to address them.
✅ Develop core processes to bring stability to project implementation.
✅ Continue recording and implementing feedback.
✅ Depending on the level, get a project management professional certification training course
✅ Hold an initial team and department meeting to set out expectations and set SMART goals for the department.
✅ Meet with individual team members to discuss their strengths and weaknesses and set individual goals.
✅ Check the progress of the 60-day goals:
- Process improvements: Are they bringing valuable efficiency gains?
- Risk management: Have they developed an effective risk mitigation plan with clear actions?
Day 61 - 90
The training wheels are off.
The project manager should begin adding value to the company. They're not just observing and learning but working independently in their role.
You want them to be more accountable for assigned tasks, develop their critical skills, and be proactive in the company.
At this point, they can juggle multiple responsibilities.
✅ Set 90-day goals – Ensure that your new hire is fully immersed in all facets of the project management role.
What to cover in the next 30 days
✅ Monitor the performance of the team and individual team members against the goals set.
✅ Meet with senior management to obtain feedback on performance and whether it aligns with company standards.
✅ Promote higher accountability by independently managing a client project with a precise due date and a more extensive project scope.
✅ Undertake team management, cross-functional team roles, and collaborations with minimal guidance.
✅ Assess the 90-day goals:
- Time management: Project delays are non-existent or minimal.
- Budget: They complete projects with savings or do not exceed 10% of the budget set.
- Customer success: They can bring customers' perspectives into projects and balance them with business objectives.
✅ Collect feedback on the onboarding process and suggestions for improving it.
➡️ Tailor this 30-60-90 project manager onboarding plan to fit your organization's needs. Apply the best practices for training new employees to get the most out of it.
➡️ If you need other templates, we have you covered. Check out these onboarding templates, so you don't have to start from scratch.
👀 What does an effective project manager onboarding process look like?
Your onboarding process should create a smooth transition and give your project manager the best chance of succeeding.
You can't know if your project manager onboarding process is effective if you don't measure it. Set goals that are relevant to the project manager role.
You and the project manager should decide on the KPIs for each phase of the onboarding process. It'll keep them accountable without micromanaging them.
It incorporates a two-way feedback system
Seek and provide feedback from the project manager.
Providing feedback gives them a better understanding of their strengths, weaknesses, skills, and knowledge gap.
Tip #1: From day one, ask your new hires how things are going.
Tip #2: Get to know if they have the resources they need to have a great employee experience.
Tip #3: Find out any gaps or barriers in the onboarding process.
Feedback is essential in helping you track your employee onboarding metrics and learning how solid your onboarding process is.
It fits within your project management workflows
Since we are talking about a management position, your project management onboarding process should fit into the existing project team and client workflows.
This ensures that the new hire focuses on the critical aspects of transitioning into the project management role. It also keeps the project deliverables consistent. Your onboarding process will teach them everything they need to know about how to manage projects of all scopes and sizes.
➡️ Don't forget about engaging your new hires. We share 11 ways to engage new employees starting from day one.
⏰ How long is project manager onboarding?
We can't provide the exact duration onboarding project managers takes. It will very much depend on the complexity of your project, the seniority level of your new hire, and your specific company processes.
However, we can confidently say that it takes a minimum of 90 days to cover all the onboarding phases and take on responsibilities independently.
But this is not where you should stop.
After the three month-period, pursue ongoing employee development through:
- Career mapping.
- Creating a long-term plan provides the project manager with professional and personal growth.
- 360-degree feedback and 360 performance reviews.
- Encouraging professional and personal goal setting.
Tip: Work on continuously improving their skills and competencies through our manager training program.
⚙️ Why do you need to automate your project manager onboarding process?
Automation saves time
A lot of administrative tasks go into onboarding a new project manager.
You have to provide them with relevant project documentation and every status report. Plus, you'll need to set up their accounts, file the onboarding documents, and do plenty of other paperwork.
But here is the thing.
Employee onboarding statistics show that 40% of new hires get late responses to job-related questions.
When you choose to automate administrative procedures, it saves you time. Use it to address your project manager's queries and in one-on-one interactions.
It encourages collaboration
When you automate employee onboarding, there's effective collaboration between team members and internal stakeholders.
Functions like automated notifications ensure the entire team is on the same page.
You'll not have to slow down to correct errors that can occur when one of the onboarding team members fails to make an important communication or forgets a step.
Automated onboarding boosts productivity
Creating automated workflows simplifies the onboarding process. Plus, it reduces redundant paperwork for you and the project manager by making it available online.
As a result, you'll be able to focus on strategic and creative tasks that'll improve engagement and build a more harmonious relationship. And with less paperwork to handle, the project manager becomes a productive member of the team faster.
It creates better experiences
Automation provides your project manager with a pleasant employee experience from day one.
It creates streamlined processes that ensure the project manager has access to all they need to assimilate successfully into their new role.
They can know what you expect of them and when. And this great experience ultimately leads to a higher retention rate and increased productivity.
In a nutshell, automation reduces the workload of the onboarding process. Plus, it makes it easy to begin the onboarding before day one.
➡️ And if you don't take our word for it, check the results of our customers, Alasco, Storyblok, and Awesomic.
⚠️ Spoiler alert: They achieved diminished time to productivity, hours saved on manual work, and engaged employees.
➡️ Set up your project manager for success with Zavvy
Project managers are internal-facing and customer-facing. Drowning yourself in manual work will only make it harder to provide an onboarding process that helps them thrive in their role.
And overwhelming your project manager with paperwork will prevent them from engaging in human interaction and building relationships that'll make them productive.
The best part?
Right from the start, you'll get access to powerful insights you can use to provide an even better employee experience throughout your onboarding process.
Book a free demo to discover how our automated onboarding tool will take your project management onboarding to the next level.