Hello again! I have been off-line for a while and now I’m back at it, refreshed and rejuvenated I was on a cruise sailing from Sydney Australia to Vancouver BC. Wow, what a great holiday! The time at sea offered so many opportunities to sit back, relax and enjoy life!
Interestingly enough, this is the first time I have taken a full month away from my business! I frequently take short holidays (i.e. 1 – 2 weeks) but taking 4 weeks presented some new challenges. I thought I’d share some tips on how I made this work!
1. Take time to Preplan. I am fortunate to work with a team of very skilled and motivated people. Prior to leaving I knew I had to ensure each person was clear no what they needed to do while I was away, and what outcomes were expected. I also had to ensure they had the resources they needed to complete the work.
People need to know how to do the jobs they will be expected to complete. This may require only a short walk-through, or it may require more extensive skill development. Regardless, it’s important to set everyone up for success!
Planning should also include clear operational systems within your business so everyone knows what and how to do what is expected. Do you have operations or policy manuals?
Planning improves employee’s moral.
- Planning creates an atmosphere of order and discipline in organization.
- Employees know in advance what is expected of them and therefore conformity can be achieved easily.
- This encourages employees to show their best and also earn reward for the same.
- Planning creates a healthy attitude towards work environment which helps in boosting employees moral and efficiency.
2. Communication is vital. In this day and age, we have the ability to be connected 24/7. Every business leader and entrepreneur knows this is standard in business today. What happens when you want to really unplug and get away from it all?
Before I went away, I connected with each customer and supplier to let them know when i would be away, what the contingency plans were and ensured they were ok with what I set up for them. I was thrilled with the positive feedback I received. They felt taken care of.
While I was on my cruise, I met many other consultants and business owners who were trying to balance the need to unplug with the reality that they still had a business to run. Ships now offer satellite internet access (convenient albeit expensive!). Each of us would regularly check emails, respond to questions and troubleshoot challenges from the middle of the pacific ocean. I worked about 15 – 30 minutes per day until the last week when I went completely off-line! The result was smooth uninterrupted work flow for my team. There were a few glitches that arose that were completely unexpected but for the most part, my planning and communication offered smooth sailing for everyone.
Debrief once you’re back at the helm! This offers you an opportunity to learn first hand what worked, what went wrong, and identify what changes are needed in your systems, communication and planning for your next absence. You also have a unique opportunity to provide feedback to those who stepped up in your absence or better understand why others didn’t.
3. Delegate don’t Abdicate. As a business owner or executive, you are perceived as the leader of your team. This role is not one you can abdicate when you want to go away for some rest and relaxation. Instead, it is important to be a strong leader and ensure you delegate appropriately. Part of your planning should include who is responsible for decision making, leadership and follow-up in your absence. Delegation offers a structured and clear plan for those you lead, and other key stakeholders such as suppliers, clients, employees/contractors etc.
When you delegate effectively, you and your your team members have some very definite benefits! Team members are empowered to take on more responsibility and develop new skills. Delegation offers positive reinforcement by recognizing their ability to step up in your absence and it provides a clear focus for every member of the team.
Next time you want to take time away, I encourage you to use these three steps to make it an all-round success!
If I can assist you to prepare for your next vacation or time away, please book a complimentary Exploration Session