Thoughts For The Day: The Handover

Fancy spending your first week in a new job shadowing your soon to be predecessor? Me neither, but it's on the cards...
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Fancy spending your first week in a new job shadowing your soon to be predecessor? Me neither, but it's on the cards...

So I had an interview. I sat opposite the girl interviewing me, disappointed that she was undermining her natural beauty by failing to tackle her feint moustache. The interview wasn’t difficult. My mind was soon wandering off, thinking about the position her man finds himself in. You could be intimate with a woman for years and telling her she has a tache is still going to be a difficult conversation. But it was there. He’d know it. His family and friends would know it.

Every now and then I’d force myself to listen to something she was saying about the job, and respond with a few stock lines about commitment, being proactive and my favourite, ‘able to pick up bespoke packages very quickly’.

And then I heard a word, which I long ago came to dread in the work environment; ‘handover’. If I got this job, there would be a handover with the guy whom I’d be replacing. A crossover period. I don’t like the handover. For me its up there with the ‘buddy’ or ‘mentor’. At one job, someone introduced themselves to me on my first day as my ‘buddy’ and I had to take them to one side and tell them that wasn’t happening.

The handover forces you to shadow your soon to be predecessor. I’d much prefer to inherit a mess from a predecessor who’s left and essentially be there to clear up after them without ever meeting them. Their former colleagues will have nothing but bad things to say about them and they will only be too grateful to have me in their team digging the department out of a hole. I can do that. But the handover is a major problem.

Worst of all, this situation means you’re exposed to the leaving card very early on in your new job.

Your outgoing colleague will show you the ropes. But they won’t necessarily show you how to do everything properly. They’ve downed tools. Mentally, they’re somewhere else now. They don’t care. And you’ll be sitting in close proximity and any stomach rumbles will be picked up. They’ll introduce you to colleagues and you’ll have to stand around like a lemon as they stop and gas with team members about their future plans and they’ll take any opportunity they can to slag off the job and certain colleagues you’ve yet to make up your mind on. You also know they’ll be filling in curious colleagues on what the ‘new guy’ is like and chances are they’ll choose to focus on any negative traits they’ve picked up on.

Then there’ll be the lunch break. They’ll feel like they have to take you to lunch, particularly if you don’t know the area. The small talk will be agonising. They won’t want to do it either, but they’ll be looking to ensure a good reference is guaranteed from the employer. You telling them you’ve brought sandwiches in is not going to impress.

Worst of all, this situation means you’re exposed to the leaving card very early on in your time in this new job. No one will have worked closer with the leaver than you over that last week and you’ll be expected to sign the card and contribute to a present.

Worst of all, some do gooder may have the bright idea of asking you to organise the card and present as it will be a good way for you to meet your new colleagues. Your first interaction with many new colleagues will be to ask them to put money into a collection for someone you have no idea whether they like or not. Then there’ll be the leaving do. Again, someone will be on your case to make sure you attend, as it’ll be a great way to meet the team. If you don’t go, people’ll think you were ungrateful given the selfless way your predecessor had spent their final week training you up.

Erstwhile colleagues and Sabotage readers will know I don’t do the work thing. I don’t sign cards, I don’t go to work drinks or leaving dos, and I don’t accept cards. But if I get this job, I’ll find myself in an awkward situation within my first week. Can I afford to antagonise colleagues so early on?

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