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Leaving a current role to take up a new job can be both exciting and stressful at the same time, especially if you are a C-suite leader or in a senior management role. While you may feel excited about taking on a new role, it’s still important to ensure that you have a good handover strategy for a smooth handover process when you leave your current role on a good note to keep your stellar reputation intact.

One of the most important parts of the transition process for leaving employees is the job handover which is expected during your notice period. The handover process is the transferring of jobs and responsibilities from one employee to another. A seamless transition from you to your successor can minimise disruption to your company, and help maintain business confidence and continuity.

handover list
handover list

Since you hold a high-profile executive position, your movement will inevitably be in the spotlight. Your network will be watching how you and your company manage your departure. This is why it is critical that you plan your handover approach and manage your handover process properly to ensure that the new employee is ready to take on your responsibilities, leaving no room for ambiguity.

When you’re moving on to your new opportunity, you’re more likely to be under scrutiny. If you have not yet announced where you’re heading next, people will also be curious about the company you’ll be joining. A successful and smooth handover will work wonders for your career in the long term as it demonstrates your sense of responsibility, accountability and professionalism.

things to note when planning a handover

Preparing for a handover is very important and it's best to avoid making mistakes. Making mistakes during your notice period will leave a negative impression on your employer as it gives the perception that you’re disrespecting the company, causing you to leave on a bad note. The importance of a smooth transition should not be overlooked and here are a few things that you should note.

1. effective communication is the key during the handover period

At the heart of a successful job handover is good communication. This means being able to highlight and clearly communicate key business strategies, top priorities and deadlines. Ineffective handovers are the likely cause of misunderstandings and misalignment as information is not clearly communicated.

That is why it's crucial to have clear and detailed instructions in the handover document, which should include the relevant knowledge, processes and key information you need to pass on to your successor. Make sure to also share the contact details of your staff or the partners you work with so that your successor knows who to contact for specific projects after your departure.

As best practice and courtesy, you can inform your clients or business partners by sending them an email to introduce them to your successors.

2. it is the responsibility of the predecessor to set things up for success

Even though you’ll be leaving the company soon, you’ll still be judged based on everything you do when you reach a certain level of seniority. Orchestrating a smooth and trouble-free handover is something that you will definitely be expected to deliver on to ensure business continuity and minimise any potential disruption to existing operations.

Although you might be doing this mainly for your successor, ensuring a professional handover will significantly benefit you and your career in the long term. As a senior executive, you need to instil confidence that the new leader is more than capable to move things forward.

Employees and stakeholders are also less likely to leave if they see that you have complete trust in your successor and that you have done everything in your best capacity to set them and the company up for success before you leave. The goodwill you have created here will follow you through to your new organisation, and even throughout your career.

Now that you have read about the multiple benefits of a successful handover, here are some handover tips and best practices to ensure a smooth transition period.

ways to prepare a good handover for senior level executives
ways to prepare a good handover for senior level executives

5 tips for a successful handover

1. create a handover checklist

Spend some time putting together an organised handover checklist to ensure that you don’t miss out on any important detail. Apart from the details of the main job description and skills, your job handover checklist should be specific about the daily tasks that your successor will need to work on or follow up on. 

A good handover report should provide quick links to folders and files on your corporate network, as well as the names, contact details and functions of immediate team leaders. Make sure they don’t miss out on any important information, such as progress reports for each of the business plans and strategies, upcoming deadlines and events. The more your successor knows, the more prepared they can be to meet any challenges head-on.

what to include in your handover?

Here are the key elements of your handover documents.

  • your day-to-day activities and responsibilities
  • details on ongoing projects, project owners, status updates and project deadlines
  • list of software that they should have access to 
  • access to important documents
  • a list of key contacts and emails of customers, clients, colleagues, stakeholders and managers

2. have your successor work alongside you for three to six months

Experience and communication, are the keys to a successful job handover process. The longer you spend on the handover, the better chance you would have of showing your successor all the finer details of the role and that is what makes a good handover. One of the main reasons why a handover isn’t successful is because your successor hasn't gotten enough time or the chance to familiarise themselves with the relevant duties while working alongside you.

how long should a handover take? 

While one month should suffice, an ideal time frame for this key process would be around three to six months for the successor to better understand the role and see their responsibilities through a business quarter or half-year. Through a three or six-month programme, the successor will know how things are done in the company and they would be able to run with the strategies independently once you depart. This is especially important if the successor has never worked in a region like Asia Pacific before, where cultures and traditions are largely different from the West.

3. arrange meetings for the successor with other stakeholders

While you and your successor need to spend a lot of time together, don’t forget about the other staff in your organisation who they may also need to know. Set a time to introduce your successor to your colleagues and key people. This is very critical in the Asian culture, as face-to-face meetings have a much higher social value than video conferences and phone calls. Besides business meetings, dinners and lunches with the key stakeholders are also highly recommended to build relationships.

They may not know all facets of the business, so introduce them to those that do. This way, they will have a better idea of the company structure and how they can effectively integrate into the workplace culture. Set these meetings up well in advance as key stakeholders tend to have very hectic schedules.

One thing we’ve found that works best is the shared calendar function. Share your work calendar with your successor right from the start, so they can also pick up on regular meetings that you’ve permanently set up with your associates. They would also be able to determine for themselves how they should re-adjust their social life according to the demands of the new role.

4. guide but don’t micromanage

As an outgoing employee, you will be guiding your successor during the handover period. You can share your knowledge and the methods you've adopted to achieve your work goals but don’t try to influence their management style or thinking by telling them what to do. Instead,  encourage them to consider various perspectives and from different angles for whatever they are working on. As long as they are able to reach their required goals, it doesn't matter if they have a different working style.

Instead of forcing them to follow your processes and management style, give them some flexibility to try new things and do things in the way they feel most comfortable with. Successors often have a different perspective when it comes to resolving challenges and driving change, which may sometimes be exactly what your organisation needs.

As they say, two heads are better than one. With your experienced lead, as well as their new, inquisitive and open mind, the company stands to gain from having improved performance and productivity. Everyone has their own ways of doing things that can yield the same or better results.

5. discuss strategies and business continuity plans

Have an open discussion with your successor about how the role and business strategies may evolve in the future. This is a critical part of the handover process as your successor might have different ideas on how they want to take the company through the next phase of growth. It is not uncommon for existing strategies to be deprioritised due to external factors or business restructuring once a new leader joins a company.

Share the vision you have for the company and find a middle ground together with your successor. This would also help make sure that the changes your successor is looking to drive will not come across as too disruptive to the existing workforce.

are you ready to step up?

The job handover process can be both an exciting and challenging thing to do, especially for senior executives in large-sized organisations where there are many different business units and workforce sizes to consider. However, for your personal and professional development, sometimes you just need to move on to an organisation that could better leverage your skills. We hope that this article has been helpful to you in understanding the steps you should take to ensure a smooth handover.

Whether you’re looking for the next exciting opportunity in your executive career, or reaching the tail-end of your career and would rather take up an interim management role, connect with us to find out more about our capabilities in executive search.

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