With summer upon us, are you planning to take a vacation? Will you enjoy your time off? Or will you worry that work won't be done — or worse yet, that it will be done and thus prove you're not indispensable? Here are some tips to help you relax when you take your next vacation:
- Keeping a short leash on your team is counterproductive. You'll get better results by letting go and trusting your team than by trying to manage it from a distance. Not taking a vacation at all is even less effective. An exhausted, burned-out team leader can be worse than none at all.
- Prepare to delegate portions of your work to different team members. Unless your vacation will be unusually long, even average performers should be able to handle small pieces of your job. In addition, spreading your work around will encourage these team members to collaborate in making decisions that you'd otherwise make alone.
- Make sure that your team members have a way to contact you if necessary. But tell your team members to direct their inquiries to your voice mail and respond to them at your leisure, if at all. Using e-mail for this purpose is even more effective, if you can check your mail from the road. A detailed e-mail can give you information that cryptic voice-mail messages won't.
- Do your best to plan and schedule the work you'll do upon your return. Though most of us have done it, it's crazy to come back from a relaxing vacation and find a piled-up desk, a tape full of voice mail, and people waiting for decisions. Except for genuine emergencies, politely defer any new tasks that arise upon your return until you're caught up.
- Be realistic about how much work, if any, you'll really do on the road. It's tempting to think you can do much of your work anywhere — even from a remote vacation hideaway. Even if you find the time and motivation to work instead of relax, you may not find a place in which you can actually work. Don't let yourself think that, even on vacation, your time off and enjoyment are less important than your work obligations.
An easy way to increase your visibility and influence in the workplace: Don't sit in the back of the room. At meetings, choose a seat near the head of the table; at seminars, sit up front where your questions are more likely to be heard and responded to. You'll be surprised what a difference it makes.