Everyone understands that a manager should make time to check out and recharge. Yet, there’s an expectation that he remains available, plugged in, informed, and accessible while on vacation. Therefore, even when he does go away, he doesn’t truly get away.
Even the hardworking manager, when overwhelmed and overcommitted, can become a bottleneck. Refusing to take a break not only burns him out but also wreaks havoc on his team’s productivity—it hinders necessary skills building and succession planning. By butting in whenever he can, he subtly undermines his team by insinuating that his team members cannot run things on their own.
In 2012, the contact management company FullContact was in the limelight when it announced a “Paid PAID Vacation” policy. It offered its employees $7,500 every year to go on vacation with the stipulation that the employee totally disconnects. FullContact CEO Bart Lorang explained why employees and their teams can be better when they disconnect:
Once per year, we give each employee $7500 to go on vacation. There are a few rules:
- You have to go on vacation, or you don’t get the money.
- You must disconnect.
- You can’t work while on vacation.
If people know they will be disconnecting and going off the grid for an extended period of time, they might actually keep that in mind as they help build the company. For example:
- They might empower direct reports to make more decisions.
- They might be less likely to create a special script that isn’t checked into GitHub [software development repository] and only lives on their machine.
- They might document their code a bit better.
- They might contribute to the Company Wiki and share knowledge.
Get the picture? At the end of the day, the company will improve. As an added bonus, everyone will be happier and more relaxed knowing that they aren’t the last line of defense.
Idea for Impact: Take a vacation. Empower your team. When a smart manager goes on vacation, he leaves clear directions about the critical situations under which his team should contact him. While he mentally checks out, his team members get the opportunity to stretch and show their individual and collective mettle.