Vacations : Time to relax and unplug from work

For some managers, vacations time can bring unwanted stress and be hard to plan.

Let’s see how we can address this. 

Extended vacations

Too many managers only take a week off at a time because they fear taking three weeks or more in a row. While the “zero cell phone/portable computer” message is quite acceptable for a week, or five business days, it is harder to observe for those who are away longer. A week’s absence by a manager can be handled, except in the event of a big emergency, in which case the manager will obviously be contacted, wherever he or she happens to be. Let’s acknowledge that a manager away for three weeks or more can pose certain challenges. I believe, however, that it is healthier to take a month off and check your e-mails and messages regularly than to go away for only a week, and be overwhelmed when you get back, without ever having truly disconnected. Extended vacations are totally workable with managers handling a few requests while away, as long as they are not required to work every day on matters that could be handled without them.

Trust your team 

I recently met an executive who shared with me his project of taking a month of vacation next year. He was somewhat apprehensive, but determined to go through with it. Once the decision is made, the implementation of a project is simply a question of planning, delegating and logistics. You have to trust your team, accept that you are not indispensable for a certain time, and recognize that mistakes may be made from which your team will emerge stronger and wiser. Never being able to take more than a week off at a time is an admission of managerial incompetence.

Gone are the days when managers did not dare tell their clients they were at the beach. It no longer matters, because with today’s technology, you can be at the other end of the world and reachable. Some concerned managers on vacation check their voicemail daily and keep an eye on their smart phone for any incoming messages. Since they did not set up an “away from office message,” they have no choice but to answer their e-mails. Okay, you’re right—these types of managers are rare, or will soon cost their employer a bundle in antidepressants and CSST benefits for burnout.

Yes, I know that I’m exaggerating a bit, but there are numerous benefits, both personal and professional, to taking an extended leave. Managers need to learn how to delegate and empower their teams, and staff needs to be hired accordingly. The vacation period should be planned from year to year, with managers knowing what to expect by the end of December.

Such an approach often implies a reorganization of work, and companies that work in silos generally have a harder time than those with open, transparent management based on collaboration. The sharing of files among colleagues supposes that they are not in permanent competition with each other, but instead mobilized for a common project. Thus, when someone is on vacation, the others pick up the slack and the work gets done. Such an approach is elementary, but. . .

Address the issue 

Today, too many companies still have not attacked the problem, despite all the talk. Managers are often understaffed, and are either not trained or not helped to become better managers. Consider this the next time the training schedule is being drawn up, and sign them up for a session titled “How to take a month of vacation and improve your performance.” This should not be too difficult to sell, and have them take a class on delegating and HR planning while you’re at it. For even greater efficiency, sign up the entire management team from the outset!

On this note, have a good summer and return to work! 

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