Are you being called from work during vacation?

telephone at vacation

Vacation in summer time can be summarized with one word: Relaxing! You don’t have to think about work for a couple of weeks. Instead, you are enjoying the sun, swimming in the ocean, walking in nature, reading books, visiting lovely towns and spending quality time with your family and friends.

The last thing you want is being called from work during vacation

Right? But perhaps there is also this other part inside yourself objecting as you are reading this and tells you “It is no problem being called. Better a quick chat than having to repair the damage afterwards!”. Sounds logical, doesn’t it? The problem starts when it is unclear what your colleagues can decide themselves and for what they need your authorization.

You should be replaceable at any time

If you are not replaceable at any given time, your organization is at high risk. I know that there are companies that are hardly allowing their Qualified Person (QP) to go on vacation. Batches need to be released for the market and hiring an external QP is just too expensive. But face it, people are here only temporarily. Making someone over-important for an organization is extremely unhealthy for the personnel, as well as the company.

Check out your leadership style

If you are not replaceable at any time, please check out your current leadership style.

Ask yourself the following questions

1. Is the context clear?

Leadership starts with setting a context. It is the framework in which expectations, authorization levels and tasks have been clarified. Without a clear context people are spending an enormous amount of energy trying to find out what to do. Two things can happen: they will check with you all the time to ensure they are doing ok, or you are not hearing anything as they are trying to find their own way.

I do understand it may be a difficult question to answer, as what is clear enough? Start with “Do I experience the context myself to be crystal clear?” As long as you are having fuzzy and confusing feelings, the answer is no. Dive deeper to further clarify.

2. Do I want to be replaceable?

If your answer to this question is YES, great! You are in the perfect position of giving leadership away to your colleagues.

If your answer is NO, please continue reading. It may feel great to be indispensable. They need your advice and opinion to be able to decide. You are probably a perfectionist with sky high standards for yourself and your colleagues. But perfectionism is killing other people’s initiatives. You are going to solve everything anyway, so why should they take this responsibility. Leadership is also about daring to let go (after setting the context!). So you’d better work out this perfectionism issue.

3. Am I regularly checking up with my team?

Once your colleagues know the context, and they are experiencing the space to steadily work on their challenges: regularly talk about progress, the decisions made and plans for the coming time. Also talk about the mistakes and what has been learnt from them. This way, you will form a strong team, able to professionally act on (emergency) situations any time.

What you seed, is what you get

If you treat your teams as smart independent thinkers, they will act smart and independent But if you teach your team to check-up every detail with you, they will never start working independently. You will be called during your vacation, guaranteed! No undisturbed dive into the ocean and reading good books.

What’s next?

My invitation to honestly answer the three questions from above. Dare to find opportunities to grow. Great teamwork is leading to great results. Being called this year is giving opportunities to implement a new strategy for next time. Let me know, what is your biggest insight after reading this article, by leaving a comment below? I’d love to hear from you.

Wish you a wonderful summer!

Warm regards,

Karen Zimmermann

Posted in 2-English, Leadership, Self reflection, Team

2 reacties op “Are you being called from work during vacation?
  1. Evert Heemskerk schreef:

    great article and yes I am replaceable now, but came from a position where I thought that I wasn’t. It takes time and insight to let go.
    But I do find it doesn’t hurt being called once to prevent damage repair afterwards.

    • Karen Zimmermann schreef:

      Hi Evert, thanks for your response! It takes guts to let go. I believe the best managers master the balance between support and independence. Too many people like to be important (often this works completely subconsciously!) as our ego does not like to be replaceable at all.

      Concerning your sentence “But I do find it doesn’t hurt being called once to prevent damage repair afterwards”; I can imagine this happens from time to time and it certainly doesn’t have to be wrong. However, it does depend on the reason for calling. A question that pops up in my mind is “Why are they not taking the decision themselves?” Answering this question will give you a deeper understanding of the independence of your team, as well as how far YOU are prepared to go with your team.

      Warm regards,

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