Have you ever been on vacation and yet still at work (in your mind)? Or have you been on vacation and had somebody from work call you to ask you questions? Or how about your people… have you ever had to call your people when they are on vacation to ask them work-related questions?
Well, I just returned from a family vacation and I totally unplugged from work while I was away… I mean I totally unplugged! I love the work that I do, however, it was great to simply unplug and not think about any part of the business for a solid week. I guess a part of me wasn’t totally unplugged, as I always seem to be watching people and processes and thinking about how they apply to leadership… yeah, I know that probably sounds a bit geeky to many of you, but that’s just who I am—I’m wired that way!
Anyways, being “unplugged” from work got me thinking about how important it is to get away from your work from time to time… and to let your people get away as well. Specifically, it’s critically important to leave work at work… especially when you (or your people) are on vacation. Getting away clears your thoughts and allows you to enjoy life, and it can give you an energizing boost... it can reboot your thoughts; I guess it’s similar to refreshing your computer!
However, if you go on vacation and drag work along with you, everyone suffers… you, your family, your co-workers, and your employees. You deserve to unplug and your family deserves to have you fully present with them—not preoccupied with work-related issues and short phone calls. Your co-workers and employees also deserve to have you away, as it gives them opportunities to take on greater responsibilities during your absence—allow them to rise to the occasion; allow them to step up to the challenges… and grow!
The same thing goes for when your people are on vacation—don’t even consider calling them to ask work-related questions. If you cannot survive without them, you have failed in preparing for their absence… don’t take it out on them! You should always have a contingency plan when your people are away.
When I was in the Air Force, we had alternates for every key position and responsibility, and it was a great contingency plan. I would often quiz the alternates to ensure they knew the responsibilities. I used to refer to this contingency plan as the “croak-factor.” I used to tell my people “if you croak (aka "pass away") on the way home, you better have somebody who can step in and take your place.”
Now compare this to your organization—if one of your people didn’t show up to work tomorrow, who would fill their shoes? … who would take over their responsibilities? It’s very important to plan for these types of scenarios; if nobody is available to step up and take on the responsibilities of a missing person, your customers will ultimately suffer… their "experience" in your store may be directly impacted!
Naturally, manning shortages may hinder you from having a fully-qualified backup/alternate for every position and/or responsibility, but you should have somebody who knows enough to get by… as a minimum, be sure you have somebody to cover all the responsibilities of a person on vacation.
Speaking of vacation, I had some awesome customer experiences and some very poor ones over the past week. I look forward to sharing some of these stories with you over the next few weeks, as I think we can all learn some valuable lessons from each experience. One thing that really stood out was how much the attitudes of the people really made a difference in our overall experience; whether it was at a store, restaurant, theme park, or hotel. The bottom line was that happy employees made for a great experience… I bet the happy employees are able to enjoy their vacation time as well!
Have a blessed week, and if you are planning a vacation in the near future, be sure to leave work at work!