As an HR professional, I feel it is the moral obligation of the HR and the line to ensure that adequate time and ample resources have been devoted towards handover
The recent movie ‘Lunchbox’ reminded me of some common intricacies of a typical handover process. I could empathize with the new employee who was struggling to get the mindshare of the current role-holder occupied with his daily deliverables.
By definition, handover means a formal transfer of job knowledge, role responsibilities and resources by the outgoing incumbent to the new role-holder and is considered to be a starting point of any role transition.
After the movie, I was trying to explore what options a new role-holder would have if the handover was not happening properly due to non-seriousness of the outgoing member and the only one I could think of was that possibly he would approach the supervisor, share the concern and request his intervention. This in turn might aggravate the issue because in all probability the employee giving handover might take an offence to it.
The other dimension that came to my mind was the ‘relative stake at hand’. For the new guy, who has to prove himself, the stakes are very high and he would try to get the most out of this handholding phase. For an outgoing employee who has lived the role and who may be joining a new organization or moving into some other function stakes are comparatively less. For him, it can become a last mile tick-mark formality towards completing the checklist given to him.
In the corporate scenario, I have rarely seen cases where ‘poor handover’ has been attributed as a reason for initial failure.
The sanctity of handover becomes even more critical when we look at the direct correlation between degrees of effective handover and the duration of learning curve before the member gets fully functional for the new role. It is an integral part of the foundation that you are laying for your new member. Handover is not just the download of physical data, people information and functional knowledge. It also encompasses transition of a lot of softer aspects, which a new role-holder should know in order to succeed in the new environment.
The actual ingredients of a robust handover process still mystify me but I believe that a well-defined framework backed by seriousness of the concerned parties along with close supervision can be a powerful recipe.
The manager who is overseeing it can make a difference by personally being involved during the entire exercise. He can design checkpoints to assess the progress and quality of knowledge transfer. It has to be designed in the most effective manner. For the newcomer, the handover can be a cumbersome theoretical download or can be an interesting experiential learning process depending on the way it has been designed.
The person giving the handover should have adequate bandwidth to be able to devote enough time for the new incumbent. It should not be that he is laden with existing responsibilities and is hard pressed for personal attention which handover requires. There should be a robust feedback form which captures the actual experience during handover and throws up areas of improvement.
As an HR professional, I feel it is the moral obligation of the HR and line to ensure that adequate time and ample resources have been devoted towards it. The increasing business pressures and decreasing transition spans mandate that new resources should hit the floor quickly and become productive at the earliest. This business urgency is further denting the strength of the process. It is HR’s obligation to step in and ensure that adequate time is devoted to the entire handover process and due justice is done with the assimilation of new resources depending on their role requirements. It is time we do a sanity check of our handover process!