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How to Have Successful Shift-to-Shift Handoffs

Tech Tips - Jul 20

How to Have Successful Shift-to-Shift Handoffs

JLG Industries, Inc.
World-leading access equipment manufacturer
McConnellsburg, PA

With the onset of COVID-19 and social distancing guidelines, many workplaces are operating with smaller shifts, fewer meetings and less face-to-face interaction. These challenges make successful shift-to-shift handoffs even more essential to ensure teams are communicating effectively about issues and schedules.

Before the Handoff 

Depending on your environment, shift handoffs may be complex or can be kept very simple. A hospital, for example, will have a much more complicated shift handoff than a retail store. However, no matter what your organization does or makes, the most important first step is to create a shift handoff procedure

A shift handoff procedure performs two functions: It defines each step of the handoff process and sets expectations for each person’s role in that process. It also identifies how these handoffs take place. Will it be a written report that’s passed from one supervisor to another? A short meeting around the whiteboard? Or maybe you have an internal system where employees can capture notes about a shift to easily pass information throughout your organization. The method you choose will depend on your organization’s safety, data and document retention requirements. 

Once you’ve created a shift handoff procedure, make sure that all employees who will be involved in the handoff are trained on the procedure and are aware of expectations. By training employees and laying the foundation for productive handoffs, you can help improve communication and performance down the line. 


During the Handoff 

It’s important for the relief supervisor to arrive early. This allows him or her to have conversations with key team members on the current shift before they’ve clocked out and are on their way home. It also relieves the pressure of getting everything organized while other employees are standing around, ready to start their shift. 

During the handoff, both supervisors should complete the shift handoff procedure, as well as a walk-through. The walk-through allows them to observe the environment and communicate schedule changes, equipment or maintenance issues, call-offs and any other problems that arose on the previous shift. By discussing these items now, the relief supervisor can hopefully experience fewer unforeseen issues on the upcoming shift. 


After the Handoff  

Once the handoff is complete and the relief supervisor takes over, they’re responsible for following up on any items noted during the shift handoff procedure. This includes briefing the incoming shift about any ongoing issues or relevant schedule changes. 

And of course, toward the end of their shift, the outgoing supervisor should again prepare to complete the shift handoff procedure before leaving for the day.


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