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Handover Secrets That Make Your Life Easier

Handovers are simple when they are well-prepared, communicated, and shared.

What should you do before your colleague leaves the company?


What should you do before anyone leaves for the holiday?


Handover is a must-thing to do. Yet, many people neglect it or even ignore it. They see holidays in their calendar and switch off. Their brains are away, and their agenda is unknown. Managers need to deal with it. The work has to be done.

Before you wish your colleagues good luck in their next career endeavors or great three weeks of holidays, make sure you know what you have to cover for them. Good managers avoid surprises and burning deadlines hidden in email chains.

My life became easier when I undercover five secrets around the handover. Copy them from me and be less stressed the next time your team is away.

1. Handovers start on 1–1, and team meetings

Do you use your meetings effectively? If I ask you now what your team does, do you know by heart? I don’t care about details but about the general overview.

You would not be a manager if you didn’t know it.

So, let’s assume you do know it.

Meetings are a time to share news and hear about how things are going, but they are also a time to plan and solve problems. Your team does not have to do some crazy PowerPoint presentation to prove to you they work. They need to keep each other up to date about the major things.

Now the secret #1 is to make notes.

You won’t be able to remember everything people tell you. So, make notes. No need to have a diary, but notes can serve well for managing the agenda when this person is gone. So, whenever you have 1–1 or a team meeting, make sure to bring something out of it. Don’t waste time and doodling nonsense when you should create a base for a handover.

2. Handovers are included in capacity planning

AHA! Well, I don’t expect you to have a big aha moment. But to be fair, you have to take handover into your capacity planning.

My friend has a horrible week every time one of his colleagues leaves on holiday. Why? He gets an extra agenda he wasn't expecting. Thank you, sweet manager! Teamwork doesn’t mean you burn other people, but you plan with them.

Why don’t managers understand it yet?

Planning ahead, finishing what can be finished on time, and then distributing the rest is secret #2.

Make sure that people finished their stuff (ideally) or that they prepared all they could have to make it easier for others.

It’s not automatic. Some people don't give a damn about leaving the company to hand over their agenda. Others see themselves on the beach already. So, why would they handle any email communication?

Nah, managers are capacity prophets. Think ahead, and you'll cut the cake smoothly.

3. Handovers should always be in writing

We don’t remember things. We are overwhelmed with emails, materials, reports, and meetings. What is not written down does not exist.

Lead by example and put things in writing.

I know, I know. It’s annoying. Yet, needed and fair. Before your employee is gone. Walk through his handover. See that everything is in place, well described, and saved. But that is not enough.

Leavers have to brief others, not just send an email with tasks. Handover is a process. I know I said it must be in writing, but equally important is to brief the team on what is needed.

If you fail as a manager to have information, you are setting yourself on fire.

Secret #3 is to check what is written.

4. Handovers are needed even for a short absence

A: I’ll leave a bit earlier today, is that OK? My projects should not contain anything. B: Ok. Sure thing. Enjoy your weekend.

What is wrong with this communication?

I learned the hard way that managers have to expect the unexpected. Friday afternoon and fire! The person is away, and now what? I had no idea where the materials were. Colleagues did not know. The email chains were missing. Ouch. It was a long afternoon and evening.

Don’t be a fool like me. Even a short absence requires a handover. There is still a written handover, even if it is a small one.

You are without hands if you have no access to materials. It’s crazy that it's still happening. Finally, I had to call my colleagues for assistance and erase this free time. Just because I did not care about the handover.

#4: Do not approve any leave unless the agenda has been covered.

A: I will deal with it when I am back. B: OK, sounds good.

Once again no. You can’t rely on people coming back. Would you wait for a doctor when you need him now? Most likely not, your clients or suppliers are the same. Restless.

5. Handovers are knowledge sharing

Have you thought about handovers as knowledge sharing? If not, you should. Every leaver takes a bit of knowledge with them. This is lost forever. We could even think about how much money he took with him. Knowledge is invaluable.

Employees who are leaving the company are not motivated to share any of their knowledge. They don’t care anymore. Managers should care, though. We won’t let him leave cheaply. Performance - knowledge - still needs to be delivered.

The secret #5 handover serves as a knowledge transition.

We can evaluate how well the person understands the job when he leaves for the holidays and needs to structure his agenda. We can identify potential issues and distribute the work correctly.

A handover is a power tool.

The handover could be a piece of a puzzle that fits into your process. So, don’t let it be. It won’t happen without your management prompt.

Prompt often and prompt well. You save a lot of time!

Final thought

What is my final handover to you? Do them.

Make them standard practice. People are smart. As a manager, you must oversee the process. It makes the team feel comfortable. They won’t blame each other when one is absent on holiday. Likewise, when someone is leaving, the knowledge he can provide could help train others. It is gold.

Use handovers wisely. It will save you a lot of stress.

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