Managing Smart: Supervisors Need Vacations Too


Wednesday, June 15, 2022

With summer upon us, vacation requests are flowing in from our team members. But, have you planned your vacation? You need one, too!

We know — it can be challenging to take a vacation as a supervisor. Being out of the office can mean cramming work before and after our vacation, and it often seems like we must be on the clock all the time for success. But, a Harvard Business Review study found that “taking more vacation results in greater success at work as well as lower stress and more happiness at work and home.”

So how can you prepare for a vacation to minimize stress? Follow these tips.

    • Don’t wait for work to slow down. It won’t! Just plan in advance, alert your team of your vacation dates and block it on your calendar.
    • Prioritize. “A few weeks before your vacation, make a list of all the tasks that absolutely must be done before you go,” says Tristan Elizabeth Gribbin, in the Hartford Business Review article, “How to Minimize Stress Before, During, and After Your Vacation,” stressing that this should start at least two weeks prior to a one-week vacation.
    • Let people know you’ll be on vacation. Scott Edinger, founder of Edinger Consulting, says in the Harvard Business Review article, “Read This Before You Head Out on Vacation,” that “at least a week before you depart, take steps to ready all of your commitments for your absence, so you can be away while you’re gone. Make sure that all of your projects are paused or can continue on to the next step without your involvement.” This includes your team members, colleagues, students and partners — anyone you’d be in contact with during your workweek.
    • Establish a handoff. “Figure out who can best handle each part of your job, and ask that person if they can cover for your while you’re out,” Gribbin recommends in her article. “Offer to do the same for them sometime.” Share this person’s contact information in your out-of-office messages, your voicemail and with your key contacts. Additionally, Samanta Rae Ayoub, a communications executive at a Canadian health research organization, suggests in the Fellow article, “Out of Office Alert: Managers Need Vacations Too!” creating and providing to your handoff and boss a “While I’m Away List” that includes key dates, deliverables and deadlines that should occur while you’re on vacation.
    • Truly unplug. “Step away from work — and watch a disaster not strike,” shares Art Markman, Annabel Irion Worsham Centennial professor of psychology and marketing at the University of Texas at Austin, in the Harvard Business Review article, “How to Forget About Work When You’re Not Working,” Markman explains that a great way to reduce anxiety is to expose yourself to a scary situation — like work being poorly done or not at all while you’re out — and gradually learning that the situation is not actually threatening.
    • Enjoy your last night of vacation. “Let your night before work still be a vacation, or at least your personal time,” says Peter Bregman, CEO of Bregman Partnership, in the Hartford Business Review article, “The Right Way to Come Back From Vacation.” “Don’t open your email or check your voicemail. Unpack, do laundry, make your kids’ lunches if you have kids and they need lunches — but don’t go back to work until you’re back at work. Then, when you return to work, follow these three steps for getting back into the swing of things.

And remember, being a good supervisor means leading by example. To encourage your employees to have work/life balance, model that behavior too.

So, what are you waiting for? Book that vacation!

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