Newcomers are an essential part of a successful team

Mervi Leppänen Business Lead, Orion

Published 23 Feb 2023

Reading time 4 min

A successful team requires different experience levels, from newcomers to seniors. The best learning and growth always happen in projects. Transparent ways of working and a strong support system with ongoing dialogue ensure that newcomers can thrive in customer projects. When the foundation is strong, changes in the team won’t disrupt the collaboration. That is, at least, what Solita and Orion learned during the long-term partnership.

Solita and Orion have worked together for over two and a half years, building a Global Master Data Management system for Orion. The project has been a significant growth adventure for both teams. While implementing a new system is a technology project at its core, it has also been a process of cultural change where team Orion has learned new agile ways of working and the principles of a long-term collaboration.

“The project started when we were all working from home, and it was already a great accomplishment to make things moving and create results in that unexpected situation with the pandemic. Shared ways of working and clear processes supported us in the journey,” says Mervi Leppänen, Business Lead from Orion.

The provider team rarely stays the same during a long project, and staffing changes also happened in this case. While experienced team members were replaced with similar experience levels, the team also welcomed new people with less experience. Regardless of the changes, the project moved forward rather efficiently, and new team members were onboarded on behalf of Solita.

“The customer would always prefer to keep everything stable, but it was wonderful to notice that onboarding new, less experienced team members went smoothly, thanks to good processes and clear ways of working,” Leppänen adds.

Psychological safety makes the team flourish

A good team spirit, supportive atmosphere, and helpful team are important factors when onboarding new team members, especially when they have less experience in the field. Solita puts a lot of effort into staffing teams in the best possible way, always considering customers’ needs and the dynamics of people. The project team always has a possibility to meet the new candidates before they jump in.

“We have a people-first approach to staffing teams, which means that we put emphasis on the dynamics and personalities without forgetting the tech capabilities. I think one of my superpowers is creating diverse teams and seeing how the team works together,” says Riikka Oksanen, Account Director at Solita.

When new people join the project team, Solita is responsible for the onboarding. New team members need to understand the big picture of the project, get to know the customer’s company and their industry, and form an understanding of the current trends.

Orion operates in a highly regulated industry, which made documentation during the project highly important. Creating comprehensive onboarding documents at the beginning of the project was also helpful when changes happened in the team.

Another success indicator for a smooth project onboarding was psychological safety. When people feel supported and aren’t afraid to ask questions, the learning curve is steep, and working is fun.

“It was rewarding to see how the new team member from Solita grew in front of our eyes and started to take space and flourish. We all have started somewhere, and we learn by doing. With will and enthusiasm, people learn fast,” Leppänen points out.

On-going dialogue is a key to success

Shared frameworks, open discussions, and clear definitions brought structure to the collaboration. Ongoing dialogue is necessary, and the retro meetings were always open and straightforward. When trust is established, everything becomes easier.

“We discussed problems and challenges openly and always came up with good solutions as a team. Sometimes the discussions were hard, but we never had any confrontations,” says Leppänen.

Maintaining a good atmosphere is also important. More experienced team members must keep track of how to support new team members; nobody should feel left alone. Ongoing dialogue makes it possible.

“We want to create a safe and friendly atmosphere in the project team because, with good vibes, the collaboration always flows better,” adds Oksanen.

The collaboration has progressed from the active project phase to the maintenance and development phase. The learning process has been rewarding for both teams, and surely there are more learnings to come.

Team Solita has also enjoyed the joint efforts throughout the journey. Like Oksanen puts it:

“We are always happy to work with a client that has the courage to try new ways of working. It’s rewarding to see how things work out and get the feedback that we have created value”.

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