June is done, and many of us are working towards our big summer break, but is the thought of trying to get three weeks’ work done in one week before you go on holiday filling you with dread? A sun lounger somewhere hot has your name on it, but you need to work through a massive to-do list to make it happen. Often the stress of getting all your work done before you jump on your flight makes you ill. You get to your exotic destination and finally relax, but your immune system does too, and you spend your vacation feeling terrible. Or do you struggle with “I can’t turn off-itis”? It’s an issue many of my clients face when they go on holiday. They feel compelled to check their work email or Slack for at least the first four or five days before they are able to be present and enjoy the holiday. So, how do you cope with the summer downtime?
When it comes to having a break and taking time away from work, it’s important to put boundaries in place before and after you go away. Prioritise what is important and make clear what you will and won’t do.
It can sometimes be hard for people to know where to take up the slack to maintain performance when team members go away. If you are leading a team, you often feel responsible for keeping the momentum going and pick up the workload of your colleagues. Instead, have some conversations that count with the team about the work that needs to get done and ask them what can be taken off the list and how it can be done differently.
Once you have put some clear boundaries in place, you can use the time more wisely. The slower summer months can be a good time to look at what has worked in the first half of the year and give your team time to prepare for Q4.
When I work with my 1:1 clients we talk about doing less to achieve more, which is a key part of being a balanced leader. Stress and overwhelm raise their ugly heads when you and the team come under pressure. But once you start communicating with the team and collectively get clear on your goals and objectives, it will become easier for you all to work together.
To get your team to work more effectively you need to role model best practice. Get clear on your strategy and have conversations that count with your team well ahead of their holiday, so everyone is clear about their business priorities for the summer.
- Use your Out of Office – It’s simple, but so many people don’t bother. If you want to use it really effectively, put out a reminder a few days before you go with a message that informs people when your last working day is or put something in your email signature that signposts to clients and key stakeholders they can contact while you are away for a period. This is all about managing expectations.
- Remember that you are not the fourth emergency service. The world will keep turning and stuff will get done. If you are using your Out of Office responsibly you will be passing anything urgent to another channel, so client/stakeholder queries and requests will be dealt with while you are away.
- You are allowed to have time off. In fact, it is fundamental to your health and well-being as well as your performance. Restoring and replenishing your energy levels is critical, and holidays are one way of doing this. If you want to be a gold star student, think about how you integrate mini holidays into your working life, so you are stress-free and rested all year round.
If silo working and having conversations that count are difficult to have with your team, you can download my guide to help you. My five-step model gives you the framework for conversations that allow you to work cohesively and collaborate as a team. You can download the Team Collaboration Guide from here.