Your long awaited vacation is finally approaching and you are counting the hours until you escape the office. How do you prepare to take time off? Do you just cut and run or do you get things wrapped up or at least organized so someone else can pick up where you left off?
If you are part of a team odds are someone is covering for you while you get away and you’ve had to cover for them on their days off. One of the worst things that can happen within a team is the stress of covering someone else’s work and being handed a mess. Admittedly there can be times when it is unavoidable, like an illness or accident. However, if the time off is planned then there is time to prepare for what needs to be covered. Worst case scenario is that an opportunity is missed because there wasn’t time to finish the work that was left behind. Lost business hurts everyone and will come back to haunt you at review time if not sooner.
I’ve found that when things are organized and clear things get done and the things that aren’t clear get left unless they are truly time sensitive. The things that are hard to pick-up leave a nasty taste behind – resentment. So how can you avoid the resentment if you are leaving work for someone else? Take these three steps and it will go smoother.
- Finish what can be done. This is so obvious, but often overlooked. If you can wrap up a report, or a routine task before you leave then do it. People will love you for it.
- Outline what needs to be done. Making a one page summary of what needs to be covered and where the information can be found will help whoever is covering for you get started. Leaving the outline on top of the files where they can be seen is even better. Review it with the person covering for you, quickly shortly before you leave.
- Let people know you will be out. Change your voicemail to say you will be gone. Put an auto response on email saying you will be gone. This lets folks know you will not be available for information or help. Also, you can let them know who to contact if they need immediate assistance. Just make sure the designated person is aware of your message.
If you take these simple steps then your work load will be less when you get back, which helps the benefits of vacation last a bit longer. As well, your fellow team members will be much happier to help out in a pinch. One other benefit is that if you set a good example then you can ask for the same consideration if you are the one left in the office holding the bag. Overall it helps build team rapport which will lead to better results throughout the year.
What do you do to prepare for taking time off?