Session 5 - Recruiting and Managing Contributors (June 2021 Cohort)

Hello, @june21-cohort! This week we’re going to continue our discussion of teams with a focus on recruiting efforts and what to do to manage the contributors you have on board. We’ll look more closely at the onboarding process and how to address challenges that come up.

Here are the Week 5 slides and handout:

  1. Handout: Recruiting and Managing Contributors
  2. Slides: Recruiting and Managing Contributors

As always, please don’t hesitate to ask questions as they arise. See you soon!

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Hello @june21-cohort! Thanks for a great discussion this week, especially as we delved into your thoughts about how to reward collaborators when money isn’t an option and your own motives for engaging in this work. Here’s our chat transcript from the session. I was pleased to hear that all of the groups are making steady progress, including those of you who felt like you didn’t have much of an update to share. There will be natural ebbs and flows of activity throughout the process because you all have many other responsibilities (professionally and personally) to manage in addition to your projects. Trust that you will accomplish this work in due time as long as you keep at it, to whatever extent you have the capacity for at any given point. You’re all doing great!

From our discussion, it sounds like many of you are planning to recruit collaborators, even if you had initially envisioned your project as more of a solo effort. As people begin to express interest in joining your team, be sure to get back to them quickly and clearly explain next steps. If someone is not the right fit for a particular role, see if there are other ways they can be involved, or at the very least, keep them in the loop. And in both cases, don’t forget to thank them for taking the time to respond. Revisit our list of recommendations for onboarding new contributors, and remember the importance of providing and maintaining good documentation (e.g., MOUs, role descriptions, style guides). This helps everyone involved to know their responsibilities to the project and to one another, and it’ll help you to handle challenges that may crop up along the way. In addition to giving everyone clear expectations, the onboarding process helps to build that human connection that will make everyone feel a part of the team.

Once you have recruited and onboarded the contributors you need, it’s good to keep them continuously engaged. In our experience, the most successful projects are the ones that keep the initial buzz around the project and team alive, so take a look at our suggestions to engage your team. Repeat this process with new team members as needed, and remember that adding someone new to the project is an exciting milestone. It demonstrates that your project is resonating with others, so much so that they are willing to volunteer their time and skills to help it succeed. Celebrate that!

We also talked a lot about how this people-centered work requires intentional project management strategies and can sometimes be very personally taxing because of the emotional labor involved. While you’re all doing very valuable work with your projects, no project is more important than your own wellbeing and that of your team members; so be sure to show yourself and each other care and kindness along the way.

As I mentioned, we’re going to start heading into more of a focus on content starting with next week’s session on accessibility and inclusive design. In the meantime, some things you can be working on (if you haven’t started already) are putting together some of the key team building documents, such as a memorandum of understanding (MOU), job descriptions for any roles you want to fill on your project, and a call for participation (CFP) using the job description and project summary. Examples of these can be found in the handouts for Week 4 and Week 5. You may also want to take a look at this example mailing list document for ideas about more channels you can tap into for recruiting collaborators.

As always, please don’t hesitate to ask questions here in our discussion space as they arise. You’re all doing great! See you next week!

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Just to let you know that I have started recruiting and now have two contributors; one of whom has signed up on my Rebus team site. I have an extensive email list from NYU School of Professional Studies and CCNY Economics department that I will be reaching out to in the next couple of weeks. I will not be on our call on Tuesday; its my wife’s birthday and we are celebrating with a hike in the Green Mountains of Vermont.


This is great news, @jmoritz! I think that speaks highly of your project and the work you’re doing to tell your project’s story that you’ve already got contributors lined up. And I have no doubt that others will get on board too. Thanks for the heads up about missing our call this week. I hope you and your wife have a great time. That’s a really lovely area up there. Safe travels!