The Perfect Handover

Published 14/07/2022 / THOUGHTS

We have all worked with that colleague at one point. The one that on the last day of work, before their week away, sits tapping their foot, watching the clock until it strikes home-time, at which point they hurtle out the door with such ferocity that they leave a cartoon outline of themselves in the air, chair spinning in their wake, as a solitary post-it note flutters to the floor. The post-it note reads:  

  • – article needs finishing
  • coverage needs sorting in tracker  
  • Have a great week, Ta.  

Don’t be that colleague. Holidays are important to all of us and quite rightly so. They give us an opportunity to leave work behind and wind down. But, that shouldn’t leave your colleagues struggling to pick up your workload, or your clients high and dry.  

During the holiday season, here are our three golden rules that will help you deliver the perfect handover, avoid unnecessary stress for colleagues, and ensure delivery for your clients. 

1. Give yourself and your colleagues enough time 

Inform your colleagues well in advance of the dates you’ll be away, especially those who will be taking over your work. Start working on your handover a couple of weeks beforehand, clients or customers whose deadlines may be impacted by your absence should also be made aware of your holiday in advance. This gives everyone enough time to start preparing cover and make sure nothing slips.  

Schedule briefing chats with colleagues in the days leading up to your time away and make sure they have access to the right documents and all the information they will need. Looping them into relevant email chains in the weeks and days before your departure is always useful and remember to set an out-of-office autoresponder for your email so clients and colleagues know when you’re not around.  

2. Create a clear handover document  

This handover document will be the best resource for your colleagues to help you while you’re away. Make it well-formatted so that everything is clear – a simple table layout with clearly assigned tasks and deadlines makes it fool proof. Add links to relevant documents and colour code it for each colleague or client. 

Within this document, it’s helpful to create a list of major items coming up. Have a think about what projects, events, or campaigns will happen while you’re away. It helps to have a quick overview of what’s going on before getting bogged down in the details.  

Add a list of daily tasks. The smaller admin tasks might fall through the cracks when only focusing on the bigger picture and you don’t want to return to a huge pile of jobs. It’s also essential to share useful details such as client/supplier emails, phone numbers, login details, and file locations.  

The key is to include as much information as possible without making it into a tome. Things to clarify when detailing tasks: 

  • – Actions – what’s been done already, what is yet to be done 
  • – Who will own the task  
  • – The client/customer  
  • – Deadline  
  • – Who to contact/ask for help should they get stuck  
  • – Contact details 

3. Tie up loose ends 

Don’t do the work-dump-disguised-as-a-handover-task. It’s not fair on your colleagues, and you’re not fooling anyone. This will inevitably lead to evil eyes on your return. Try to finish up tasks and projects where possible. Properly plan the run up to your time away so that you don’t let anything fall by the wayside that your colleagues would have to pick up.  

Be aware that if your colleagues have not been working on a campaign or client with you, they won’t know the ins and outs and the tasks might take them longer. If it’s close to getting across the line, it’s probably worth you making sure it does before you go. If you can’t finish it off, this goes back to making sure your colleagues are properly briefed and have all the resources they will need.  

These three golden rules will help your colleagues when you go away – and they’ll appreciate you for it. It will also make your return a lot easier if your colleagues have kept your workload on track and can hand projects back to you which are in good shape.  

Also, bear in mind that while you’ve been drinking margaritas and topping up your tan, they’ve been taking on your workload and sweating to keep things running smoothly. A heartfelt word of thanks never goes amiss. 

By Hana Peacefield

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