Mastering the off-boarding process through effective handovers
Employee turnover is part of running a company. Of course, looking after your staff can increase employee retention levels, but sometimes, for reasons that might not be in your control, employees make the decision to move on in their career.
When an employee first hands in their notice, their employer or manager normally assumes the responsibility of ensuring that the employee is off-boarded properly – and with most notice periods only being about four weeks long, the off-boarding process can become a race against the clock.
Of all the things that need to be dealt with ahead of an employee’s departure from a company, handing over their responsibilities to the person (or group of people) who will be replacing them is up there with the most important ones.
When someone spends a significant amount of time working somewhere, the experience that they gain and the relationships they build all come together to form an invaluable asset for the organisation.
Even though it would be impossible to retain all of the employee’s experiences, taking the time to conduct a thorough handover can help the business hold on to many of the gems that the soon-to-depart employee picked up along their journey.
The road to conducting an all-star handover
There is an art to getting the handover process right.
Any amount of time spent handing things over so the role’s successor can have an easier time transitioning is useful. But, if a manager is to truly harness the value of a handover, it’s important for them to know the key focus areas that will help the business hold on to this invaluable asset.
Here are three ideas for managers to keep in mind when considering how to approach the handover process within their organisation:
1. It’s all about the pre-existing relationship
Before even thinking about what areas to prioritise during a handover process, it’s important to remember that the departing employee needs to be interested in the idea to begin with.
Whether the employee is willing to pass the torch on to the next person will ultimately depend on how they feel toward the business when announcing their resignation.
Employees that are taken care of during their time working for a business are far more likely to be ready and willing to take part in an end of employment handover. If they’ve developed positive relationships with their superiors, they will probably feel a sense of responsibility to ensure a smooth transition and will therefore have no issues cooperating during such a process.
However, if the employers don’t put in the required effort to make their employees feel appreciated throughout the course of their time at the business, the chances are that a departing employee won’t take an official handover very seriously at all.
As an employer or manager, don’t take your employees’ commitment and devotion to your business for granted. By showing them the appreciation they deserve and rewarding them throughout the process – those energies will eventually be reciprocated.
2. Encourage an ‘experience’ handover
Every job requires a certain amount of know-how. There are certain protocols that need to be followed and policies that need to be adhered to – and by the end of an employee’s tenure at a company, they will have probably gotten the know-how component of their role down to a tee.
A common mistake that employers and managers make when off-boarding an employee is that they put too much of an emphasis on getting the departing employee to handover the know-how elements of the role, rather than their experiences and tricks of the trade.
As part of this mistake, the manager prioritises the creation of protocol manuals with the departing employee so the role’s successor will ‘know what to do’.
While taking such an approach might seem to make sense, the reality is that manuals don’t hold as much weight as experiences and tricks of the trade do. Protocols can be picked up by quick learners, but if experiences aren’t passed on, they end up leaving the business together with the employee.
Managers who want to run effective handovers should spend the short amount of time they have during an employee’s notice period on handing over the employee’s experiences and ideas.
Through creating opportunities during the handover period for the employee to share the smarts that sit beneath the job’s know-how, the manager is essentially equipping the people who will be taking the role forward with the tools that this employee picked up along the journey that will bring new depth to the role.
3. The ongoing handover
When it comes down to it, even if you have a great relationship with a departing employee and you’re ready to focus on the areas that truly matter, a four week notice period is never really going to be enough time to run a truly effective handover.
That’s why it’s important to start the handover well before the employee even knows they’re ready to move on.
As mentioned earlier, effective handovers are about sharing experiences and learnings gained while working for an organisation – and that type of sharing is something that can be embedded into a business’ regular practices.
You don’t need to wait for an employee to hand in their notice in order to encourage the idea of collaborative learning and sharing.
The road to success is paved with collaboration and the lessons learnt from others while on the job.
By running frequent sessions for your employees to share their experiences with each other, not only are you way ahead of the game when actual handover time surfaces, but you’re creating an environment where employees can learn from each other and incorporate those lessons into their own roles.