Business tips on preparing for a smooth handover

Here, Lynn Morrison gives her tips on how to handle the notoriously tricky period of the employee handover.

We’re all familiar with the scenario – a much-loved colleague is moving on to greener pastures and new challenges, and as they enter a new phase of their career, your office can enter a phase of uncertainty – the dreaded ‘checking out period’ culminating in the handover.

If you are the one leaving, whether permanently, on sabbatical or on maternity leave, it doesn’t matter – the handover is an opportunity to ensure that everything runs smoothly and for you to leave on a good note. Focussing on a seamless transition will help to keep your attention on work, and it will help to make the transition easier for your colleagues.

As long as you ensure that the foundations are in place for a smooth transition, everything else will follow.

Remain professional

The first step to success here for the outgoing employee is to remain professional – they must give their manager, colleagues and position the respect they deserve, otherwise they risk tarnishing their reputation.

The employee should really think about their job – what do they do and how do they do it? They’ll have to be able to explain this in a way that’s easy to understand for someone coming in.

The outgoing employee should put together a handover document detailing as much as possible, from passwords and phone numbers to deadlines and contact information. They should be clear about the tasks that will be left for their successor, and make sure they don’t miss out on any of the small, important bits of information – the Devil is in the detail and the more a replacement knows, the more prepared they can be to meet their tasks head-on.

A personal handover

The replacement should be given the handover document in person – this will give them the opportunity to go over anything daunting or confusing, as well as giving them a last chance to ask any questions they have about the role.

All of this is to make sure the replacement beds in effectively – but the transition should be made easy for other employees, too. They’ll be losing a colleague they know they can rely on – help them to keep their morale up so that productivity doesn’t dip.

If you’re the one who is waving goodbye to someone, the period can be just as tough. If you manage the leaver, ensure to make time to discuss how and when they want to announce their news, and make sure you give everyone in the department the opportunity to say their thank yous and goodbyes.

Finally, ensure that the workload across the team doesn’t jump up to unmanageable levels – the leaver’s projects should be distributed fairly and reasonably to people who aren’t already swamped with work. Equally, however, giving people new and increased responsibilities is a mark of respect, which is likely to keep your employees engaged, motivated and ultimately happy despite the checking out period.

Lynn Morrison is head of business engagement at Opus Energy.

Further reading on taking on staff

Ben Lobel

Ben Lobel

Ben Lobel was the editor of from 2010 to 2018. He specialises in writing for start-up and scale-up companies in the areas of finance, marketing and HR.

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Managing Staff

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