Q: I manage a department with about 10 employees and I’m planning to take a one-week vacation. In the past whenever I’ve taken time off, someone from the office ends up calling me for one reason or another. These are not emergencies and could have waited my return. Do you have some advice on how to prevent staff from calling me? I wish I could just unplug in peace.
A: I’ve got some good news and some bad news. First, the bad news: this is all your fault. Now the good news, this is all within your power to fix.
Assuming your staff is capable of running the show without you (they possess the requisite knowledge and experience) and yet they still find a reason to call while you are on vacation, you have to ask yourself, why? Well, let me offer some possible reasons:
- They don’t feel sure of themselves because you haven’t previously included them in your decision making process.
- They might think you’ll second-guess them when you return, because you’ve done so in the past.
- You have not identified a team leader, and/or have somehow undermined their authority, so everyone is unsure whether he/she is safe to follow.
- Employees want to jockey for your attention, stand out, and feel important because, you may not have provided adequate feedback and recognition, so one knows where they stand with you.
I’m not saying you’re guilty of all of these, but I’m pretty sure you are doing maybe one or two. So how do we fix it?
- Start by offering small decision-making opportunities for staff to start flexing their judgment muscle.
- Give regular feedback, let employees know where they stand, this will give them more confidence.
- Treat your team leader like your right-hand person; include him/her when you’re making decisions, expose/invite to important meetings, and support their leadership.
- Lastly, make it clear that only the team leader may call while you’re vacationing.
Employees who feel sure of themselves, their ability, role and responsibilities, will feel safe in making decisions for the company while you are gone. And then you can vacation in peace. Enjoy.
Originally published on HR Box blog.