Hand-off to a newcomer

Photo Credit: saleshacker.com

An experienced engineer is about to leave because early next week he starts a new position. He’s been part of the team for the last five or six years. He has a solid background in software engineering, with a proven track on systems implementation and project design. He is responsible for the development and operations of the centralized backup solution of the company. Due to COVID-19 pandemic, it is urgent to be upgraded to the newest release because a lot of peripheral servers depend on its performance. Reliability and business continuity are getting risky.

The company has planned a hand-off and the newcomer has recently arrived. He barely has been configured to the active directory. A couple of IT admins help him gain access to the rest of the tools. He is a down-to-earth employee, a 25-year-old young talent, who entered the workforce having high hopes. The leaders have chosen him, among others, because of his performance at college and at the evaluation test.

In satellite telecommunications the term hand-off (handover in British English) refers to the process of transferring satellite control responsibility from one earth station to another, without loss or interruption of service.

The team members share the same open-office area. The experienced co-worker is next to the newcomer. They are close to each other and they interact face to face. The first explains the system and the second listens and keeps notes. At the end of the eight-hour working day, the novice reads the notes and makes some questions for minor clarifications.

The following table illustrates the difference between hard and soft hand-off.

Break-before-makeMake-before-break
Baton might be dropped downHand in hand baton delivery
Generally preferred in GSM

The question is: what would foster a softer hand-off? In other words, what could help the newcomer to be depending and self-confident in his new role?

Always there is a deadline for each internal training. The former holder of the position is transferred to the new direction. The young employee, as a new team member, tries to be quick, efficient and communicative. It is a constant evaluation, an exam he takes every day. Emails that should be answered, phone calls and operational issues that should be solved. The deeper his knowledge it becomes, the more confused he feels. A lot of maintenance activities are backwash of this mess. To make matters worse, he faces operational issues periodically which jeopardize service availability. Low performance reveals the off-handed transition to the new era.

In conclusion, soft hand-offs entail a lot of hard work and trustful partnership. Employees who are responsible to train newcomers should know, that the more honest their hand-offs are, the more valuable assets they build for the organization.

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