How to prepare a watertight handover that won't interfere with your holidays
The holidays are near and your plans are made – it’s nearly time to rejoice. The last thing you want while you’re away from the office is an email from your colleague with ‘urgent’ in the subject line. To avoid being mentally pulled back into the office when you are on holiday, make sure you create a watertight handover that doesn’t leave any questions unanswered. Here are a few tips on what you need to do to avoid major mistakes.
Don’t start drafting your handover one hour before leaving the office. Chances are high that you will not remember everything that you need to include if you feel rushed or have already mentally checked out. To avoid last-minute stress and half-completed sentences, start a few days before you go on leave so that you can add items to the list whenever you remember them.
Expect the unexpected
Remember that one project that was put on hold several months ago? According to Murphy’s Law, your holiday is the exact time when that project will come back around. While it may seem excessive to include seemingly random projects in your handover document, it’s important to have them there, just in case – that way, you’ll avoid any potential confusion from an uninformed colleague back in the office.
The devil’s in the details
While you might have an overview of all the different email threads that belong to any given project, your co-workers may not – especially if they generally don’t work on that project and are covering for you while you’re away. Make sure you give a detailed overview of every project, including deadlines, what’s completed (and what’s not), and what you need them to do. Do also link to any relevant files and folders in your handover email, so it becomes their reference point while you are gone.
Talk your colleagues through it
Once you have completed your handover, it’s recommended to talk each relevant person through it. While you may think that’s overdoing it, it gives your colleagues the chance to ask questions (read: so that they don’t have to bother you during your holiday). Additionally, a conversation with them allows you to make sure that everyone has actually seen and read the handover, effectively preventing the ‘oh I didn’t know’ excuse.
Set your out-of-office email
As your handover email is only internal, you also need to set your out-of-office email notification as an automatic reply to any incoming email. Try to keep it short, but do also make sure that you mention clearly the time period you will be gone for, when you return, and whom of your colleagues to contact (including their email) if they need to reach anyone. And for those clients that you are working with on an almost daily basis, you can even consider telling them in advance, so they don’t freak out when they see your out-of-office email.
Once this is all done, you can relax and head off into your holiday with an easy feeling that everything is under control. And even if something out of the ordinary happens, the right people know what to do. Once you are back from the holiday, you can bounce back strong.