I want my team to be able to take vacation

Coaching prompts: Real accounts from coaching sessions

Illustration by Kiry Luc

Coachee: There are 7 people on my team. There’s one who is out a lot. But he has a doctor’s note right now so I can’t do anything. Another’s husband is sick. And two more are on vacation. At this point, there are 3 people to do the work; I’ve jumped in too. But we’re not keeping up. My team has commented that they can’t take vacations without hurting the team. It seems they’re right. Sigh.

Coach: What do you really want?

Coachee: I want to have enough people to get the work done and to create space so they can all take a vacation.

Additional Questions:

  • How is it determined who can take vacation when?
  • What happens if the work doesn’t get done?
  • What are other potential options other than working longer hours?

David’s Final Thought: In the short term, prioritize the work relentlessly and ask for help from your boss and peers if you feel comfortable doing so. In the long term, work with your team to set boundaries around vacations and determine backup plans for similar situations.

One thought on “I want my team to be able to take vacation

  1. Time-off is so critical to time-on. Many teams and organizations – of all shapes, sizes, and policies – struggle with this. The best leaders are those who make this a priority and have a deep understanding for the value derived from it for all stakeholders. As an employee (vs. a manager) there are ways that you can lead here as well, especially on smaller, stretched teams. Help facilitate open, transparent comunications first with colleagues and then clients if appropriate, ruthlessly prioritize, and have a repeatable, evolving plan/strategy – this goes a long way and your manager won’t always be able to do bbn it all. Change seldomly occurs overnight, but I’ve seen teams turned around in as little as 2 weeks. You got this!

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