It’s summer and many business people will be taking vacation. It’s probably well-deserved and if you are like we are, we seem to plan for months for the one week we might be out of touch. We spent years terrified to leave town for fear something might happen at work, but after 25 years in business, we are finding that getting away can be good for you and for your business, especially your staff development. Here’s some tips on how to plan your get away with a little less stress.
It is OK to go, so be forthcoming about your vacation. This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to announce it on Facebook, but you should tell your associates. Most people take some time off and if you work hard for your customers and are good to your staff they won’t begrudge you your opportunity to visit family or see some of the world. Give clients, staff and customers plenty of warning about your absence. Give them an update on projects and give them a chance to ask questions. Introduce them to the people who will help in case an issue arises. There’s nothing more irritating than calling someone and learning they are gone when you need some important information and no one else can help.
Prepare your staff. Spend time before you go analyzing your activities. Who can do them while you are gone? Get the staff together and let everyone know the plan and who is the “go-to person.” In absence of leadership sometimes people avoid being responsible or making any decisions at all. Play the “what if” game. What if the Internet goes out? What if you have to deal with an angry customer? What if there is an issue with another employee? Set some parameters for what can wait and what merits a call or text.
Use your absence as a development opportunity. Provide your staff with lists to accomplish. When you return visit with each person to report on his or her progress. Ask the staff what was difficult and what was easy about your absence. It will be fairly evident who stepped up during your vacation and who, without having supervision, took the opportunity to slack off. Remember this when leadership positions come around.
Check in with clients upon your return. Did they get what they needed in your absence? You will have to do some extra work to make up being out of contact, but that is inevitable.
Finally, be thankful and gracious to all who made your absence possible. Don’t complain about all the work that piled up. Ponder the benefits you received from time away and bring back your refreshed attitude to work.
Mary Louise VanNatta, CAE is CEO of VanNatta Public Relations a PR, Strategic Communications and event planning company in Salem, Oregon. PRSalem.com; @PRSalem