In a whirlwind of recent events David Cameron resigned after losing the EU referendum in June and after a very quick turnaround, Theresa May now steps in as the country’s second female prime minister. Mrs May has already started announcing the appointments to her new cabinet. We all know they have many challenges ahead of them.
Picking up the reins in a new job always takes time. What do you need to include in the handover process to ensure that things run smoothly when you have a change in job holders? You can speed up the process by ensuring that there is a well-structured and comprehensive handover process.
It is it important that the outgoing employee understands his role in the process and deals with any immediate outstanding matters fully. Putting the handover together should start as soon as the outgoing employee hands in his or her resignation. It should be a methodical process to ensure nothing is left out – not written at 4.30pm on the day of departure. This is blindingly obvious but it’s surprising how often that it happens, with the consequence that the new employee struggles with basic information for a few days at best and a few weeks or months in other cases.
Allow as much time as possible for the outgoing jobholder to create the content of the handover and to communicate it to the new job holder. The more time that the new job holder has to be briefed and find out about the current workload the better, though this isn’t always possible.
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). It should include an outline of the key points of the role and make clear what is expected of the new jobholder. By clearly defining the tasks the person who takes over the role should be able to absorb the details of the role quickly and correctly. It can be helpful to include other colleagues in the process as they may be able to contribute ideas on what should be communicated. The information should be revised to ensure it’s streamlined and complete. Handing over information in a partial and disjointed way may hinder more than help.
If possible the outgoing jobholder should share the relevant documentation and files 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 digest the files and follow up with any questions he may have.
The handover information should contain any unique knowledge or best practice information, deadlines, important contacts and any ongoing issues. Operational particulars such a log in details, passwords or where keys are kept should also be covered. Don’t get into a situation where the only person who knows the password for one of your systems is an ex-employee. Other things to include might be:
- a list and timetable of actions.;
- a briefing of ongoing issues;
- a calendar of forthcoming events and deadlines;
- a list of useful contacts;
- a guide to navigating files and folders on the computer systemr
Arranging a handover meeting allows the new job holder to raise a list of questions and queries. The meeting of this type will allow him to be fully clear of the demands of the role and allows anything unclear to be answered before the outgoing jobholder moves on.
If the new job holder can spend time work shadowing and working under the aegis of the outgoing job holder he is very likely to benefit from some nuts and bolts experience and ask questions about issues as they arise.
If it’s appropriate to do so the outgoing jobholder may be willing to stay in contact for a period of time after he’s left the role to provide information.
The new Cabinet have a tough job ahead of them. Mrs May has the advantage that she has already spend years in the Cabinet of a serving government. Let’s hope she can hit the ground running in these difficult times.
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