Most of us will have several jobs during our careers. However, we seldom reflect on the importance of a professional handover. Completing a handover for the person who will ultimately replace you requires a lot of diligent work and organisation.
So how can this necessary process be simplified and effective? I have created five useful hints which will help with the process.
It is good practice to have a specific handover checklist that provides accountability. The checklist should include everything that the new person taking up your role needs to be aware of. The following information should be gathered as soon as possible:
- Your day-to-day responsibilities
- Information on specific software and processes
- Important documents
- Any client lists that need handing over
- Key contacts within and outside the company
- Key staff information (if you are a manager)
- Any projects that need finalising or delegating
- Who needs to receive the handover documentation?
Write a clear and comprehensive report
The aim is to address the most urgent and most time-consuming tasks first so that you are not rushing things through on your last week. In contrast, the end of your timeline should compromise mainly of administrative tasks and a few minor loose ends that need tying up.
Your report should be split into different sections with specific headings, for example:
- What your role is and who you are accountable to.
- Targets, deadlines, progress, and evaluation reports.
- Expectations of the role, and procedures associated with them.
- List of useful contacts.
- How to use relevant software and login details.
- A clear analysis of your weekly, monthly, and quarterly responsibilities.
You should keep a dedicated section for your team’s continuous professional development if you are a manager and the areas of work they are actively involved in. You can also indicate where you keep staff records.
Allow sufficient time to create and prepare the content of the handover and to communicate it effectively to the new job holder. Handover preparation should commence as soon as a resignation is submitted. This may seem obvious, but it is shocking how frequent handover preparation and documents are left to the very last minute. This causes the new employee to struggle with the basics, never mind the more crucial and time-bound actions that need to be carried out.
A face-to-face handover meeting affords the new post holder the opportunity to raise a list of questions and queries and gain clarity on any issues. The type of meeting will allow the new post holder to be fully aware of the demands and expectations of the role.
If the new post holder can spend time work shadowing and working with the outgoing job holder, he/she is highly likely to benefit from some hands-on experience while gaining the opportunity to ask questions about issues as they arise on the ground.
It also is very beneficial, if possible and both parties in agreement, for the outgoing jobholder to stay in contact for a period after leaving the role to provide information.
Clearly define tasks
The handover should be in written form with notes setting out key day-to-day activities and particular current issues (short-term, medium-term, and long-term). The professional handover should provide a clearly written outline of the role, responsibilities, key duties, and expectations. Clearly defined tasks allow the person who takes over the role to be able to absorb role requirements and specifics promptly and accurately. It may be useful to include other colleagues in the handover process as they may be able to contribute ideas and information on what should be communicated. The documentation should be checked to ensure it is accurate, comprehensive, and complete.
If possible, it is highly beneficial for the outgoing jobholder to share the relevant documentation with the new jobholder at least a week before the outgoing employee leaves. This allows the person taking over the role (if already employed) to read and comprehend the documentation and follow up with any questions he/she may have.
The handover documentation should include best practice information, upcoming deadlines, important contacts, and any ongoing issues. Operational information is also vital so it is important to include login details, any passwords, where keys are kept, and anything else that would be useful for the new postholder to know, such as:
- an overview of ongoing issues
- a calendar of forthcoming events and deadlines
- a guide to navigating files and folders
Double Check – Everything Covered
When you have your handover preparation completed and checked, you will be ready to start winding down in anticipation of your last day. Having a structured and efficient handover process will give you peace of mind as you transition into your new venture, and your colleagues will appreciate your efforts.
The professional handover process can indeed be overwhelming for most of us so be sure to be gentle with yourself, give yourself sufficient time, and double-check all documentation. If you are unsure about any specifics or need affirmation in a specific area, reach out to line managers or colleagues for support and insight.
Although you will likely have a handover meeting with your manager, it is good practice to write a handover report to ensure a smooth transition. The document must be comprehensible, specific, concise, and read like an instructional manual that flows.
Keep in mind that no matter how much planning you do, there will always be some loose ends that will need to be finished up before you move on. It is important to let relevant parties know who to contact in your absence and to enable automatic replies on your work email with this relevant information included.:
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