Manage Your Business On Vacation

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Being a manager and taking a vacation doesn't always mix, but it is possible to pull yourself away from your business to take a much-needed vacation. What's more, a vacation is necessary for hard workers because without work-life balance and perspective that a respite provides, you won’t remain an effective executive.

“I was that guy checking email at the beach–not a good thing,” says Scott Miller, an entrepreneur who in 2010 launched The Bee, a web-based financial application. “I just decided to take the risk,” during a month-long family vacation in New Zealand. Miller had absolutely no communication with his staff or clients.

“I gave my staff our itinerary, but I wasn’t going to make it easy for them to reach me. They handled issues on their own and made some great decisions,” he says.

Don’t feel ready to take the plunge and revamp your management style? Here are some tips to prepare you for your impending vacation: 

Familiarize Clients with Employees. Don’t let your e-mail auto-responder be the one to tell your customers who to contact while you’re away. Transparency is important, so let any clients you're currently working with know you'll be away and introduce them to who will be covering for you while you're gone.

Network. Network with other small firms in your industry and exchange resources when principals go on vacation. “It does require a high degree of trust to work with people who are occasionally your competitors,” says Powers.

Appoint Someone to Cover for You. Delegate your daily activities, one by one, to those who will remain in the office while you're away. Rob Jager, principal of Hedgehog consulting, advises: “Look for tasks that only you do. Ask yourself, is it critical that I do these tasks? Identify who on the team can perform them.”

Practice, Practice, Practice. “Practice being hands-off for longer and longer stretches, even when you’re in the office, to allow employees to get comfortable being in charge,” says Kate Koziol, president of K Squared Communications.

Prepare for the Worst. What’s the worst thing that could happen? Take this not as a rhetorical question but as a challenge requiring a detailed, documented response. “Put contingent action plans into place for what staff should do if something goes wrong,” says David Gammel, principal at High Context Consulting.

Do a Post-Mortem. Debrief your team and critique yourself so that your next vacation is even more successful. Miller says if his preparations for vacation fell short in one area, it was business development. “When I returned, the sales pipeline wasn’t as full as usual. I could have done a better job by loading the pipeline with more pre-sales activities.”

Your vacation away from your business gives you the chance to learn some big lessons. Prepare the office to that when you're out of it, you'll be able to vacation in peace.

Source: John Rossheim Photo: Piotr Bizior

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