Management 101: Never hand off work without a checklist

May 10, 2011
in HR / Employee Relations

More than ever, work is collaborative. And where do things go wrong when it comes to collaborative work? At the handoff.

It’s usually not because someone is incompetent or lazy; it’s due to poor communication.

In his book, The Checklist Manifesto, Atul Gawande describes how hospital staff who follow checklists save more lives than most “miracle drugs.”

The bottom line: We all need checklists. They help us communicate, clarify, be more specific and avoid inadvertently leaving something out.

Supervisors (including yourself) can use or adapt this “handoff checklist” when delivering a project assignment, suggests the Harvard Business Review blog.

When you hand off work, ask these questions of the person taking accountability for the completion of the project:

√ What do you understand the priorities to be?

√ What concerns or ideas do you have that have not been mentioned?

√ What are your key next steps, and when do you plan to accomplish them?

√ What do you need from me in order to be successful?

√ Are there any key contingencies we should plan for now?

√ When will we next check-in on progress/issues?

√ Who else needs to know our plans, and how will we communicate them?

The time it takes to go through the checklist? One to five minutes. Time saved by going through the checklist? Immeasurable.

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