Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Being on Holiday...

I spend quite a lot of time working with and mentoring senior managers in law firms, chambers, and commercial organisations. There are often two main things that I start by trying to get across - the importance of having some time to think, and the importance of having time to relax and recharge.

At this time of year, it is the second that I concentrate more on. In August, many of us are either on holiday or are about to go on holiday. If you are on holiday, my main point at the moment would be this: why on earth are you reading business blogs when you are on holiday! You have probably followed a link to the blog from an email or from Twitter, of you have some sort of notification that lets you know a new blog entry awaits. Again, however, why on earth are you reading this sort of thing while you are on holiday?

Most of us work rather hard and managers in organisations - particularly law firms and chambers, where few professional managers exist, and where the leadership team are managing the organisation part-time - and so it is vital that we take some time to relax and re-energise so that we can carry on the good work.

So - being on holiday. In order to be on holiday, there are a couple of things that you can do in advance that will help.

The first is to have a conversation about emails - with your secretary, with your assistant, or with your clerk. Are you going to look at emails at all over the holiday? Are you going to look at them once a day? Are you going to trust your secretary/assistant/clerk flag particular emails and only read those? Or are you going to be like Cory Doctorow (link here) who is reported to set up an autoreply when he is on holiday that says:
"I'm on vacation until x/x/2010. When I get back, I'm going to delete all the email that arrived while I was gone, so if this note is important, please send it to me again after that date."
Personally I think that approach is a little brave. My point is that it doesn't matter which of those you opt for, you should have the discussion in advance so that everyone in the office/chambers knows what your particular deal is - that way no-one is surprised that you haven't read their email for example.

The second thing you can do is have another discussion with the same people as above on the subject of contacting you while you are away. "Call me if something important come up" is hopelessly vague - you must agree what 'important' means otherwise you will either get calls to let you know that they have run out of coffee on the second floor and don't know where the petty cash is - or you will return to a smoking ruin of a building and someone saying "Oh we didn't like to bother you...".

Finally - let your most important clients know that you are going away and what the deal is about contacting you. You might say that your phone will only be on for an hour in the early evening so that you can check messages or you might prefer to tell them that you are going somewhere that has no phone reception (whether you are or not). Again the point is to set a rule and let everyone know what it is. You will be surprised about how accommodating clients usually are - after all, they go on holiday too.

Have those three discussion and it will go some way towards making sure that your holiday is as restful as possible.

Have a happy - and restful - holiday.

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