How to do a great holiday handover

Waves washing over your feet, breathing in the cool mountain air, enjoying a cocktail on a warm continental evening…

Whatever you are looking forward to when you take some much-deserved annual leave, there is the small matter of the holiday handover you need to get out of the way first. Then you can truly enjoy it.

The same goes for your team-members who are planning their own holidays; and those that are left behind and have to keep the show running.

A good holiday handover means you can properly switch off and benefit from your downtime without worrying about business. It will also take away much of the anxiety from the people you ask to step into your shoes.

Make it a great holiday handover, though, and it will empower your team – allowing them to develop new skills and experience, and possibly grow into future leaders.

Below we share some tips for your personal holiday handovers, but the same principles may equally apply to any of your employees when they are taking a break.

Plan early

“Fail to prepare and prepare to fail” isn’t an old adage for nothing. Let key people know when you are away in good time so that responsibilities are not sprung on them. This also acts as a failsafe to ensure that holiday absences do not clash, leaving no-one at the helm.

Understand what will need to be done while you are away, in particular identifying any essential tasks or deadlines. Prioritise everything in order of importance and choose who to assign responsibilities to.

Think about the workloads of everyone remaining in the business while there is an annual leave absence. Stuff needs to get done, of course, but it is important that no-one is overwhelmed with additional workload – that is when things will go wrong.

Think strategically about learning and development

You’ll want to choose an adequate person for the job, but think also if there is the opportunity to help someone grow into a leadership role.

A two-week spell with more responsibility could be the perfect dress rehearsal to see if a junior member of staff is ready for a promotion. They are placed a little out of their comfort zone and given a chance to shine. They will learn new skills and get a feel for what extra responsibility feels like.

Even if it turns out they are not ready to permanently level up, they will be a step closer to it thanks to the experience.

Train where necessary

If your deputy will be taking on new tasks for which they are unfamiliar, provide them with some training so they can hit the ground running. Reinforce this with written notes which they can refer to when you are away.

Shadowing you may work well for certain tasks, so they can see how you tackle them. This may be particularly apt where it involves meeting other people, say clients or suppliers, so that you get the opportunity to introduce them as well.

Also, ensure they have access to the resources they need to perform your role – whether it is user-permissions within software, or physical access to tools and equipment.

The return handover

Don’t forget the debriefing when you return. Offer praise for a job well done, and mentoring and support in areas where they need development.

Review how the business coped whilst you were away and consider what may need to be put in place in the future to make future spells of annual leave even more successful.

HR support

If going through this process reveals any gaps in your organisation, the HR Dept is here to help. From providing management training to recruitment support they have solutions for all your people problems.

How can we help?