Tips for going on on a break from work—guilt-free
It's that time of the year again where you want to submit that leave request and along comes all those mixed feelings: part of you can't wait for the feeling of hot sand between your toes and the other feels guilty for "abandoning" ship in the middle of a storm. Literally!
Well, if it gives you comfort, this guilt feeling, unfortunately, happens to team members in your team too and to many people in leadership positions. It is more common than you think so you are not alone!
Process instability and taking a break
Reality is that a team member or a leader going on leave requires adjustments from the business to plan for that period with one less resource. And, when these adjustments are not planned or in place, things tend to get out of control when a resource is away.
This creates a snowball effect that ends up with things like:
A pile of work greeting you when you come back from vacation;
Your team productivity decreasing with lack of guidance if you are in a leadership position;
The promise not to disturb you during the break but business tends to depend on you too much;
The crazy workload requirements to finishing ALL requests before going on leave;
The immediate reaction from your boss that gives you that nervous smile when reminded of your leave coming up next week;
That guilt feeling knowing that being away will create extra pressure to your colleagues or team members;
But worst of all, is the client experience that ends up stopping or slowing down.
Some tips to master the art of going on leave, guilt free
Depending on your position and performance, going on leave can and will create all of the above examples. However, it is more than proven that productivity boosts when people take their much deserved break so here are some pointers to help mitigate some of the "out of control" feelings described above:
1. Cross skilling
Focusing on ensuring everyone in a team can replace another member away, allows the customer experience to continue as if no one is away. Cross skilling a team helps to create stability to the client experience and sure helps while a member is on leave. Ends up preventing the unnecessary interruptions to someone’s break and allow that person to leave knowing their pile will continue being under control;
2. Succession planning
If you are in a leadership position, delegating tasks and allowing some key team members to represent the department here and there, will slowly upskill the leadership ability of your team members and ensure there is a list of successors that will enable a leader to go on a break guilt free. After all, a leader’s role is to make themselves redundant to the process so the client experience will always continue, even when no leader is present;
3. Calendar alerts for upcoming events
When a team member in your team has requested leave, as a team, create a visual system that provides transparency to all of when someone will be away. This will allow for planning and ensuring the client experience will continue as if nothing is different and all hands are on deck!
4. Long term planning versus short term
Managing client demand allows you to forecast picks of volume versus calmer periods. Ensure that this plan is visual to all so the leave is booked having that in consideration and ensuring the team will continue cooping while a resource is away. After all, we are being provided by the customer’s of our employer so let us all make an effort to respect their trending service pick times!
If you are a leader, preventing versus reacting comes a long way when it comes to including your team’s well deserved breaks in your planning.
If you are a team member, some of this can be slowly introduced in the day to day of a team through the hands of an astute team member. So go get them!
"Sometimes the most effective productivity habit is to step away and take a break.”, Brendon Burchard
Disclaimer: Apologies if some interpretations may offend a reader. I do rely on literal translation at times since English is a second language. My intention with this article is to spread awareness. I welcome your feedback to ensure I will not be constantly making the same errors in translation.
I also write about my own life ,professional experience and learning curve. I am a continuous improvement learner so I welcome you to share extra information and spread awareness with me if you have other ways of analyzing the same issues or you have value-added information to the readers of this article. Thank you for reading.