As the holiday season fast approaches will you, like millions of others, tell your people that they can contact you if they need to and that you will periodically check your emails? And whilst on holiday do you tell your family that you just need 10 minutes to check your emails?
You may think it’s OK to allocate 10 minutes a day but you are in fact allocating far more than those 10 minutes. Even if, best case, you open and scan your emails and find all is well. Your head is now in work mode, your thoughts are with work and your body language is such that instead of breakfast by a beach you could just as well be having it in the kitchen before setting off for the office.
And these “10 minutes” don’t just affect you, they affect on your family too. It’s not the fact that it only took 10 minutes, it’s the fact that your head is now somewhere else and this somewhere else is more important being with them. Even if you are sitting with them around the table and engaged in exciting conversation about what you’re going to do for the day, your family will feel that you’re not 100% with them.
And let’s hope there isn’t a problem that needs your attention. If there is then 10 minutes will stretch to 30 minutes, an hour, and you will feel the stress that’s been flowing out of you flood straight back in and your family will feel alienated and second best. Being physically with them is no good if your head is elsewhere.
This is your holiday, your time to relax. This is your family’s holiday and they want you with them. I have known so many people reflect years later on how much QUALITY family time they missed because they struggled to get their head out of work mode.
Here are my 5 tips to have the holiday you and your family need.
- Tell everybody when you’re going to be away. If you have people who are going to need your input or guidance then make sure they come to you before you go away and give you enough time to deliver what they need or to delegate to another. Tell your key clients…ask then if there is anything they think they’ll need whilst you’re away that you can sort out now. Give them a contact to speak to in your absence. Make it clear to everyone that once you’re out of the door then that’s it…no contact.
- Have your key people remind you when they’re going away. If they are away at the same time as you then any issues arising from their absence will likely come back on you and interrupt your holiday. Work with your people to make sure that all will be looked after in their absence. You want them to return, relaxed, full of energy and motivated. Have the same conversation with your top customers. Who are your key contacts in these companies? What do they need to see happen from your company or team when they’re away? Who will be their replacement contact?
- Do not give anyone permission to call you. So many times you hear managers say, “If there’s a problem then call me or send me an email.” NO. Don’t do it. If you do then you’ll be contacted. They will leave a message or send an email and the problem becomes yours to action. If you tell them not to contact, then they will try to figure it out for themselves and leave you alone. Empower your people to make these decisions in your absence with the reassurance that you will support them if something later hits the fan.
- Do not take your work mobile phone or laptop on holiday. Of course, there could be situations that really need your attention and when contact will be necessary. Give a personal mobile phone number to one person at work with permission to call you if there really is no other way. Empower them to say no to others, as per your instructions, if they don’t think the situation merits disturbing you. Tell them you will support them. If you take your work phone or laptop then you are going to be tempted to use it and won’t fully let go of work. Your work phone will be called. Many people have your work number and some won’t know the arrangements you’ve made or won’t care.
- Tell your family what you have done. Tell them of the arrangements you have put in place, including the personal mobile number in case of a real emergency. (Give the phone to your partner if that helps.) Make sure that they know that you want this family holiday as much as them and that they will have your undivided attention. If you do then get a call on the personal number, they will know that it must be a good reason and you really should take the call. If you have children then have this conversation with them too. Children may not say anything but they usually know more than we give them credit for and they need to know that mum or dad is there with them too and wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.
Holidays are important for you, for your family and even for your people. (Better the boss who is relaxed and happy.) If someone within the company (or outside like a customer or strategic partner) is not happy with the arrangements you’ve made, highlight how it’s better for them, as well as for you, that you’re able to let go of work, spend quality time with your loved ones and re-charge your batteries.
Have a great holiday.