Handover Guidelines

(Based on the policy of a European iNGO.  Contributed by Jonathan Potter  jonathan@peopleinaid.org)


1. As far as possible before the hand-over begins make out a job description for yourself. Amend it over the course of some days to get the best picture possible of your responsibilities. Perhaps start with your job description and work from there. If a lot of your knowledge exists only in your head set time aside to start to get it down on paper. Check that your files and accounts etc are all in good order.


2. Find out as much as possible about your replacement; their levels of experience, areas of expertise, knowledge of the project, the context of the project. This will help to plan your hand-over and focus on the most important areas.


3. Think back to when you started in your position and remember the new skills you had to learn. Identify the specific skills that you use in your job. These may need to be handed over. For a nurse this might be giving IV's, or for a logistician, welding.


4. With the arrival of your replacement begin by going through your job description and explaining the key areas of responsibility. Explain some of the history of the project and any problems, resolved or on going that might have occurred. Discussing the 'history' of the project will be a good opportunity to introduce it's context. Why it was started? What were the goals? If these have been adapted, how and why? When will the project have achieved it's objectives. What problems have been experienced? How were they overcome?


5. The new person will need to know where they can find resources, answers and support if they need it. That means knowing who their line manager is, as well as knowing the job descriptions of any staff under them. It's a good idea to point the new person to the job descriptions of those above and below them. This will make the way they fit into the jigsaw easier to understand.


6. For obvious reasons, the longer the hand-over period, the smoother the transition will be. For a supervised position the hand-over would ideally be two weeks. For an unsupervised position (eg. Management) this should be one month minimum. Divide the time you have available roughly in two. The first period should be where the new person can shadow you in your job. Although this should be an opportunity for the new person to learn their new role, you should continue to function as normal as the person responsible. Where necessary, the teaching of specific skills can begin here.


7. This is also the time to start introducing your replacement to key people they will be working with and to explain to all exactly when they will be assuming responsibility. This will avoid confusion as to whom enquiries should be directed to during the hand-over period.


8. Together make a list of the current needs, priorities and issues, and those of the next 3 months. Introduce procedures, manuals and guidelines specific to the job.


9. Now take a step back. During the second period you should shadow your replacement, giving advice when necessary but letting your replacement take the initiatives and responsibility. It's important at this stage to really let your replacement take over, not least to let them start to make relationships with the people they'll be working with as well as for staff and local people to see continuity in the project. And of course this is a chance for then to experience problems while you are still around to support them.


10. The hand-over is complete. You are ready to leave.


Click here for a Handover Checklist.

Handover Guidelines plus Checklist.doc52 KB
Tags: Advocacy