Handover methods that don't work

Handover smarter to prevent the handball

What is a FIFO Handball?

Handball defn: To quickly pass or ‘get rid’ of the ball in Aussie Rules (Football)

“The Handball” in Australian Mining Industry is a familiar term used by FIFO employees to describe a short, last minute note from a colleague who has left the site to go on R ‘n’ R.  It is commonly followed with a sigh, and if you work in the industry I’m sure you will know what I mean. What’s more, the person who left the note excludes their line manager as they know they probably should have done a little (or a lot) more to hand over. When this happens it can create a cycle of handballs, resulting in a failed handover process and managers left resigned to not knowing what is going on.

In a 24/7 working environment a manager’s life is never straight forward. They are only present in the workplace for two thirds of the time meaning that their active supervision of their direct reports is naturally impaired. Such a working pattern makes it even more important to provide transparency and accurate communication within teams and across rosters. In reality, what happens is that the manager’s time onsite is spent filling the communication gap between the job-sharing positions, and therein lies the biggest manager frustration: the accountability for professional communication in subordinate roles cannot be mandated without an established process and system to support governance, and continual improvement.

In essence, it is a classic picture of the ‘tail wagging the dog’.

Out with the Old, in with the New

The good news is that managers can alleviate this dysfunctional approach to communication and the whole team can be released to be more productive with their own time when at work. This can be achieved by putting in place a robust handover system that contains a closed-loop process. Managers immediately have real-time access to handover information, work in progress, outcomes and have a clear picture on the level of communication between colleagues. This allows them to improve how their teams actually handover, instead of relying on them openly providing accurate handovers across job-sharing roles.

To implement such a system, managers need to focus on developing the written communication skills of their employees. This often brings a new skill into play even for experienced managers, therefore the higher manager (aka manager-once-removed (MOR)) should be vigilant of this and encourage the development of this skill in both the manager and his team.

Inevitably with change, a degree of patience is required by everyone. With a little coaching the new process will soon be up and running. The organisation will see significant results in how the business function performs, management operates, and fundamentally, observe a general improvement in workplace culture.

In our next blog, ‘Mining with the wrong stockpiles’, we will take a look at how a handover system can evolve information flow within a 24/7 organisation.

At iHandover we provide the tools for Managers and teams to connect, grow and succeed. The challenges and issues raised in this article can be overcome with our innovative handover solution: Relay, fill out the form below to arrange a one-on-one demo today, and find out how Relay can revolutionise shift-handovers for your teams.