Whether the holidays are around the corner, you are preparing for an extended break from work (maternity leave), or will just be away from the office (virtual or physical) for some time, it’s good practice to prepare a handover.
When a Team Member takes leave or is away on training, it is up to the rest of the team to make sure their obligations are met. This can be stressful. A good handover will alleviate the stress for the remaining team members and allow whoever is going to be away to relax knowing that everything will be taken care of.
But here are 10 practical tips on preparing a handover at work.
1. Keep Your Team Informed
This applies to all members of the team. It is important to use the communication tools your organization and team have to keep the team in the loop of what is going happening on a day-to-day basis.
Whether this is through daily or weekly meetings, access to meeting minutes, or being copied in on emails, constant regular communication within your team will make the handover (whenever it happens) go much smoother.
2. Advance Leave Notices
A simple way to inform your organization, team members, clients, contractors, consultants, interested parties, etc, is to set up an advance leave notice above or below your email signature.
This can simply read “Advance notice: I will be out of the office/unavailable from date to date.
3. Plan Your Handover with Your Team Member
Typically when you go on leave, a team member will be appointed to conduct your responsibilities. Many organizations, within their management systems and according to legal obligations, will require that whoever is taking over your responsibilities may need to sign an “acting” appointment letter.
Because this team member is taking over your responsibilities, planning the handover is crucial to the continued compliance of the management system as a whole.
The easiest way to plan your handover is to figure out what they need to briefed on for the time you will be away. Create a document listing everything that needs to be done with links to important information. This will include:
- Deliverables during the time related to the management system as a whole. This will include meetings, action plans, compliance obligations, reports, monitoring, communications, etc.
- Where they can find background information on the topics above. Ideally, these are already saved in a shared drive for the Team Members to access.
- What projects or action plans Top Management may ask Adhoc updates on.
4. Have a Handover Meeting with Your Team Member(s)
Schedule a meeting with the team member(s) you will be handing over your responsibilities to. Bring your hand over document and go over the entire list, highlighting priorities, keeping in mind that they still need to cover their responsibilities.
At this time, you can also arrange for access to your action plans, tasks for updates.
5. Remind Top Management of Your Leave
It’s important to remind Top Management of your planned leave of absence. This includes the dates you will be away from the office, whether or not you will be able to respond to communications, and if so, the best way in which to communicate with you.
It’s also a good time to remind them of who will be acting in your place, where they are located, and the best methods of communication.
6. Remind Relevant Interested Parties
It’s important to keep your relevant interested parties in the loop of planned absences should they need to contact you. This is especially true if you are working on projects, have contractors and consultants who are working with you.
7. Set up your out of office messages
Before you go on leave, don’t forget to set up your out of office messages. These should be simple and concise, containing your return date, an alternative contact person, and when you will be responding to messages. These should be attached to emails, as well as the office voicemail.
8. Finish up your admin
Before you leave, finish up with all your admin. Update your action plans, finish off those last few sentences of the reports, and write up your to-do list for when you return to work.
9. Tidy up your office/workspace
Tidy up your office or workspace. This is especially important if your acting team member needs to use this space while you are away. If they aren’t using your space, coming back to a neat and tidy area is just a nice personal morale boost.
10. Return Handover with Your Acting Team Member
Schedule a handover with your acting team member so that they can catch you up on everything that happened while you were away. This would also be a good time to have a general catch up with the team overall.
Taking leave is inevitable. But by following these 10 practical tips, you or a team member can go away in a seamless, stress-free manner.