Do You Feel Comfortable Taking Some Time Off Around the Holidays? If Not, We Have Ideas…

Taking time off around the holidays can seem like a daunting task, especially if you are leading a business unit without the right foundation in place. The concept of “time off” has changed as technology has advanced. We like to categorize it into 3 levels and associate it with parenting.

#1 – On 
This means you are fully in charge of watching your 1-year-old and have a pulse of everything that is going on around them. Do they get too close to the edge of the coffee table? You need to step in. Time for a meal or a bath? You are in charge.

#2 – Off but can be reached via phone
This is the standard type of “off” for business leaders today. You can review or check in on any big ticket items from the phone but don’t need to jump on any calls or access a computer unless there is an emergency. For childcare, this is when you leave your child with the neighborhood babysitter for the night to enjoy a date night. You text the babysitter for status updates to confirm all is well and if an emergency happens, you are accessible and can handle it promptly.

#3 – Off the grid
This is the rare time that you decide to take that much-needed trip to a different continent or into the wild with no internet connection. The type of trip where you become completely disconnected from the phone or internet. In this case, you would entrust your child’s care with somebody you trust. If an emergency happens, this individual knows exactly what to do.

Category #3 is a much different animal than category #1 or #2 and needs its own piece that we’ll revisit another time. For now, let’s look at #1 and #2.

To assess how comfortable you are with taking time off during the last week of the year, the first question to ask is, “Do you have a set criteria for what needs to get done before the end of the year?” If not, make a list.

Once this list is defined, it is time to assess how the work will be accomplished.

  1. Put the time and effort into getting it done before your vacation days.
  2. Delegate it out to corresponding team members.
  3. Automate it to be completed during the holiday time period.

While the above sounds like a simple answer – and it is – the heavy lift occurs on the front end when establishing the processes for you to feel comfortable enough delegating the tasks to team members and/or letting the business run on autopilot. 

Foundational business practices to ease your mind

1. Summary email to recap meetings– a quick synopsis of the meeting so that non-attendees have an understanding of what was discussed and there are clear takeaways with dates attached to hold everyone accountable.

      A simple standardized email template:

  • Key Takeaways: 
  • Decisions Made: 
  • Follow-Up Actions Items: 

Note – If you are looking at how to better “manage up” to your boss, using this template to standardize your meetings provides visibility without being asked. The summary email can be easily forwarded to anyone that needs to be “in the know”.

2. Business processes are documented – without documented processes, certain processes can break down or come to a halt. If you ever catch yourself thinking, “I don’t know what I would do if ___ doesn’t show up,” it is probably a good idea to document that process. This will allow:

  • Tribal information flow to other individuals in the company
  • Creation of a business case to justify additional personnel
  • Room for collaboration and optimization

3. Sufficient talent level – Nothing like having a talented lieutenant waiting in the wings to help calm the nerves while you step away for a few days. If you do not feel comfortable with the supporting cast, it is time to ask yourself a couple of questions: 

  • Am I helping to develop the talent of my direct reports?
  • Do they have the space and opportunity to prove themselves?

If the answer to both is yes and you still are not comfortable stepping away, then it is time to look at upgrading the talent in the organization. If the answer to either is no, time to assess one’s own behaviors to better empower your +1’s.

To set yourself up for success when taking time off around the holidays (or anytime at all), be proactive by laying the proper foundation so you can enjoy some time away. Otherwise, you will feel stressed and in the words of Jeff Bezos: “Stress primarily comes from not taking action over something that you can have some control over.”

Take control.

Let’s get to work.

Prescriptive Profits #15