I took a vacation so my team can thrive. You can too.
We all know vacations are good for us. They help us recharge and destress. They are good for our wellbeing, our mental health, and our creativity. And of course, they are fun. Depending on what we do with our time on vacation, we can learn and experience new things while we’re off work.
Understandably, business owners worry that taking time off will harm their business, but what if I told you your vacation is good for the soul of your business? It improves how you run your company long term.
When I started Sandglaz not only did I not take vacations, but I also didn’t take weekends off, nor weekday nights off. Months passed by while I told myself after this or that milestone, I’ll be able to slow down. Truth is work never slowed down, it only increased, but I did start taking vacations. I learned that startups are a marathon not a sprint. And that’s why my co-founder and I don’t shy away from taking a yearly vacation.
How to take a vacation
A real vacation is one that is at least 10 days long. You want to physically leave long enough to be able to mentally leave too. Also, if you are going somewhere far, you don’t want the travel time to take up most of your vacation.
Keep your connection with your team at a minimal. Leave your laptop behind. Check your emails no more than once a day. This is for emergencies only. Resist replying to any non-urgent matters. And if an emergency does happen, you want your team to be the first to try to resolve it before contacting you. Before you leave, communicate with your team how available (or not) you will be while you’re away.
Taking time off is good for your team
When a team leader takes a vacation, it gives everyone else the opportunity to navigate day-to-day duties and challenges with full responsibility. This makes your team more independent and stronger. It also helps your team members find better ways to communicate better with one another.
Use your vacation as a sanity check of your company’s workflow
Do you think things are going to crumble in your absence? While your company should not be able to run indefinitely without you, it should be able to run the day to day activities without you — or as much so as possible.
Do some preparations before you leave to make sure nothing will go off the rails and communicate with your teams how you want things to be handled in your absence. If there are multiple possibilities of what may come up, explain to your team how you want things handled under the different scenarios. For example, if you know they are going to hear back from a customer while you are away, but you are not certain what the customer is going to do, talk to them about the different scenarios that may come up, and how you would want each handled.
Use this preparation as an opportunity for you to assess your company’s workflow. Can you optimize how your company runs so that your team members are empowered to act on the day-to-day challenges of your business? This might give you ideas that will improve how you run your company on the long term.
Could things go sour?
I suppose they could. It depends on your team, and so it all starts with hiring the right people. I have a team of individuals who want to grow in their positions and take on more responsibility, just as much as I want them to. This is a win-win deal for all of us. These are the kind of people you want to hire.
The more freedom you give your team the more opportunities they will have to grow and thrive. This is true in your absence as well as your presence. Start giving your team members their space and freedom in your presence and you’ll be much more ready when it’s time for your vacation.
Another important piece to the puzzle is knowledge transfer and transparency. When your team members are informed, and when they are in line with your vision and business goals, they will be empowered to make better decisions. Communication is key.
When you mentally leave your work, you rejuvenate and come back a more productive and creative person. But, more importantly, it allows you to step back and see what is really important.
When you come back from vacation, before you sink back deep into work, take time to think of your business. You may come up with some ideas for your business while you are away. Make sure you consider them and give them the time they deserve before they get quickly dismissed as you go back to your old routine.
If there is one thing you will take away from this post, let it be that your vacation is good both for you and your team. What tips do you have to reduce vacation anxiety?