You are expected to give one when you leave your current job or move on to a different project.

You expect to receive one when you start a new job.

But I bet the quality of the handover you’ve received vary somewhere between non-existent and just about OK(ish). It’s pretty annoying – huh?

If you’ve had a half decent one it comes as a shock more than anything else. But it also leaves a lasting impression. It shows the other person made an effort to set you up to succeed. They obviously cared about the job. Maybe they even cared about you. Woah – people caring about their job and each other at work – weird huh!

Yeah I know – no sh!t Sherlock, but when you’re on your way out the door and your mind is starting to look towards the next challenge it can be hard to focus on this task. It’s an overhead you could do without.

It doesn’t help that there’s no real guidelines or standards to aid us through it. Doing some Google searching finds the odd decent post, but most have zero value. Even if you look at the range of example of handover note templates, there is a ridiculous number, and they all look totally different.

Managers don’t help either. We’re just told – ‘do a handover before you leave’ or ‘send me an email with some notes on it for the new person’. This isn’t good enough. It’s lazy.

And here’s the thing – the quality and depth of your hand over forms part of your legacy. If done in the right way, it will live long after you’ve gone and be re-used and hailed as an example of what good looks like. It will enhance your reputation. It will demonstrate your integrity.

If you’re moving jobs within the same company then you will also save yourself time by providing a good handover up front, else all the unanswered questions, gaps and holes will follow you and bite you on the ass later on when you are trying to leave it behind and move forward with something new.

Make the effort now and pay it forward. Consider it your parting gift to the new person starting.

Where to start? Use this list.

To take the pain away and to make the whole process easier for you if you need to provide a handover and if you are asking others to provide one – work through the below, think through each point, document all you’ve learnt and do everything in your power to provide the Best. Handover. Ever…


1. Business background.

A boring one – yes. A super important one – yes. What are the company / department / team goals? What are they trying to achieve? This gives high level context. It frames the rest of the handover. It helps the newbie understand where they sit and why the role even exists.

2. Business case

OK – time to get specific. The day to day work they will be doing  – what’s the business benefits? What problem is it trying to solve. Who does it help – customers / colleagues / regulators? How? Is there a £ value?

3. Key stakeholders

This may just be as easy as pointing them to an existing stakeholder matrix (if there is one). Else create one, and share it.

4. Helpful people

Whilst lots of people act in dysfunctional ways in offices, there are still plenty of helpful people out there. I’m sure you’ve found some along the way, so share that information. These are not necessarily people you work with on a day to day basis, but the people who can help with information about X. Who can you talk to about Y business. Who offers a friendly ear if you need to vent some frustration. Those at the end of the asking chain.

5. Day to day actuals

So – you’ve helped them understand the reason why the role exists, what problems the work is trying to solve and all that jazz – but what do you actually do? I don’t mean give them your job title, I mean tell them in plain English what you actually do on a day to day basis. How you spend your time in order to get the job done.

6. Systems / Applications

What tools are required to do the job? How / where do they get access?

6A. Printers

Part of the above systems / applications bucket, but worthy of a mention in it’s own right- setting up the flipping printer. This can be a real ball-ache. It shouldn’t be. Make it easy for them.

7. Current position

This will vary depending on the nature of your work, but things to consider – What stage is the project at? Is the current process new / old / likely to change soon? What’s the end date? Is this an ongoing concern, that will always require support? Is there a regular status report that they will need to provide? If so, on what day and to whom?

8. Immediate area of focus

It’s important to relay what is going to be of most benefit to them, quickest. Where they should focus their energy in those first few days. Help them to hit the ground running.

9. What to watch out for

Share the biggest lessons you’ve learnt during your time in the role. Any mistakes that were made, or stuff that went wrong. Life ain’t always rainbows and unicorns after all…

10. Who to watch out for

Now it’s getting interesting…! Every office has it’s gossips, stirrers and passive aggressive trouble makers. If you are handing over to new person face to face, be open and tell them (probably best not to write these one’s down though).

11. Escalation routes

In situations A, B, C, point out who needs to know when things start to get hairy. When the going gets tough and priority calls need to be made, or blockers needs to be resolved, who is their go to guy/gal?

12. Where to get the best drugs

Caffeine is the drug of choice for most humans, and after lots of trial and error I’m sure you’ve sussed out where the best place to get it is. Tell them, or even better – take them. Don’t make it all about work, hopefully the newbie is a human too.

13. What toilets are better than others

If everyone knows to avoid trap 6 because it’s got a crack in the seat which pinches your butt when you stand up, that is a really useful nugget (pardon the pun) of knowledge to share.

14. Break time

Everyone should be encouraged to take regular breaks. Are there any nice walks in the local area? What gym’s / library’s / restaurants  are close by? Who in the office likes to play fussball, table tennis or pool?

15. Be honest

Don’t polish a turd. Don’t pretend everything is hunky dory if it’s not. Be open. Be helpful. Be honest. Be truthful.


There you have it. 15 points. Does this seems a lot to consider? That’s because it is.

Seem like it would be hard work to create a handover with this much depth and content? That’s because it will be.

Nothing comes for free. You have to be prepared to take ownership, take action and put work in to get benefit out. But I guarantee that if you consider each of these points when preparing a handover, you’ll make an awesome job of it.

You can clear your conscience and walk out the door to the new job in a far off land, the other side of town, or the desk round the corner, with your head held high. It may even just be the Best. Handover. Ever.

Nice one.


P.S. What did I miss off this list?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *