21 May 2023 |

“Take your vacation!” A letter to managers


In 5 years, the only people who will remember you never disconnected long enough for a vacation are your kids.

As a manager it can often feel like your time belongs to everyone else, which can make it challenging to step away and live your life. 

Remember this my friend (can I call you a friend?) not only do you deserve time to unplug, you need it and your team needs it.

There will always be more work to do, another goal to hit, or networking opportunity that feels too good to pass up. But you need to be a leader and set the example of how to set boundaries!

43% of managers say they are burned out. Time off from work will prevent stress and burnout. (I broke this down a bit on Wednesday.)

A study done by Work and Well Being found:

  • 68 percent of employees report a more positive mood.
  • 66 percent of employees feel they have more energy after a vacation.
  • 57 percent of employees feel more motivated and less stressed post-vacation.
  • After a vacation, 58 percent of working adults reported improved productivity.
  • 55 percent of workers noticed that their work quality was better after taking time off.

Employees, whose organizations encourage vacation, reported feeling:

  • More valued by their employer (80 percent vs. 37 percent)
  • More satisfied with their job (88 percent vs. 50 percent)
  • That they are treated fairly by their organization (88 percent vs. 47 percent)

They were also more likely to recommend their organization as a good place to work (81 percent vs 39 percent).

As a manager you need employees feeling valued and satisfied in their job! The best way to create this as part of your culture is to set an example and take time off yourself.

But unplugging can be tricky. 

Let’s look at how you can do it

4 Steps to Unplugging for Vacation

Being able to unplug during a vacation requires creating a plan.

The problem is most managers are really bad at planning, but I can help.

Let’s borrow a few tactics from the greatest book ever written on Leadership, The Effective Executive by Peter Drucker. 

Here are the steps you can take to create an action plan that will gift you undistracted time away from your team.

Step 1: Make the plan

Investing an hour in creating a plan so you can unplug for a week is a great trade off.

But how do you do it effectively?

Take time to answer these questions:

  • What are the tasks/decisions that can’t wait for you to return?
  • Who is accountable for these while you are out?
  • Who is impacted and will need to be included in communication?
  • When do these tasks need to be completed?

As a leader you are responsible for making and communicating these decisions.

Be sure everyone involved can answer the question, who will do what by when?

Step 2: Communicate the plan

As Drucker says, “A decision has not been made until people know.”

Once you’ve created the plan you need to communicate it effectively. (If you are ready, my course can help you do this well.)

Your goal is to ensure all parties have the information they need to get the job done without you.

Note to the manager: Sending your plan out at the last minute is a failure. Communication is a two way street. You need to give your team time to respond with any unmet communication needs BEFORE you leave.

A plan, including a vacation plan, is held together by the strength of the communication. 

Step 3: Focus on Opportunities  

Great managers focus on opportunities, not problems.

It’s easy to find every reason to not take a vacation when you are consumed by everything that could go wrong. 

Stop doing this. Start focusing on what could go right.

Hopefully you can think of a long list of personal benefits:

  • Quality time with family
  • ​Reconnecting with old friends
  • Exploring a new part of the country
  • Checking an item off your bucket list

But you stepping away and being unavailable also presents opportunities for your team. One being an opportunity for professional development. 

Here is a tip.

Use your vacation time as a tool to empower your team to make decisions and execute without you. Advocate for them to represent you in meetings while you are out to help them gain a new perspective in the business. Give them access to people in your network to offer them support while you are out. 

This can be a great way to recognize your team and develop your leadership bench strength.

And Developing Bench Strength is what I’ll be writing about next week. LFG