The CEO Vacation from the Company
This week, I’m headed out on vacation. It’s particularly important for our family because all our girls have left the nest, and we don’t get to see them nearly as much as we used to when they were home. Taking vacation time and fully disconnecting from your business isn’t easy, but I’ll argue that your company needs a vacation from you, just as much as you need a vacation from it!
These days, most have heard that all work and no play makes you a dull CEO. As a CEO, or anyone else in the company for that matter, it’s important to get away from your business to refresh and recharge on a regular basis.
For me, it typically takes the better part of the week to fully disconnect and get my mind away from work thoughts. This trip, I’ll be hiking, so the combination of limited cell phone service and beautiful scenery will speed my disconnection. It’s generally accepted that everyone in a company can use time away for rest and to recharge.
The Company Vacation from the CEO
What is rarely discussed, however, is that a company also needs a vacation from the CEO. If the company never has to adjust for the CEO being out of contact for an extended period of time, it won’t be as healthy as one that knows what to do in that circumstance. “Practicing” operating without the CEO around and working out the bugs in that process, ensures that the company can easily handle it if there is a sudden, unexpected reason the CEO needs to be away from the business.
Here are three things that happen to a business when a CEO takes time off and actually disengages from the business:
1. The Team must figure stuff out on their own.
When the CEO is around, it’s easy to ask her for answers rather than figuring out what to do. Good decision-making and issue resolution are important skills for your Team, with or without the CEO available.
2. The Team gains confidence.
If the CEO sets up the vacation properly, he doesn’t force the Team to wait for his return before they act. A CEO should want to be able to step away at any time, and have the business continue to operate well. If that’s not the case, then the Team can’t build the confidence they need to backstop the CEO when necessary.
3. The Team can see who steps up to lead when needed.
When the CEO departs, there is a leadership void that is created, even if she’s only gone for a short period of time. Having a plan for who can fill that gap is important, but it’s also likely that other Teammates will step up depending on the situations that arise. Regardless of positive or negative results from those situations, it can be important for both the Team and the CEO to see how things get handled in her absence.
How Can You Completely Disconnect?
Disconnecting as a CEO while you’re on vacation isn’t easy, but it’s important so that you, and the Company, can maximize the opportunity of your time off. Here are three ways to ensure your absence is productive on both sides of the equation:
1. Set Clear Boundaries and Expectations.
Communicate your vacation dates to your Team and make it clear that you will not be available for work-related input during that time.
Set up your email auto-responder to say that you will not have access to email while on vacation and provide alternate points of contact for urgent matters. Resist the popular “limited access to email” that implies someone might actually get you to respond to something while you’re gone!
2. Limit Access to Your Work-Related Devices and Accounts.
If you have a separate work phone or laptop, leave it behind. If not, ensure that you’ve turned off any work-related notifications that might tempt you to check emails or messages, and leave your phone in Do Not Disturb mode throughout your vacation.
3. Engage with Your Family or Relaxing Activities.
If you’re vacationing with family or friends, engage fully with them without discussing work-related topics. Relaxing activities will shift your focus away from work and you can enjoy some peaceful time. Do not engage with any content that might trigger work-related thoughts or ideas. Ensure that books, articles, or other reading materials are for enjoyment, especially if your typical tendency is to read business-related items during your normal working days.
How successful your vacation will be depends largely on how well you manage your desire to check back in on work-related items. To benefit fully from your time off, create a work-free vacation zone. Learn how to avoid any triggers or temptations that could draw you back into even thinking about work. It’s not easy, but it is extremely important so that you can return refreshed and reinvigorated to fully engage in your CEO responsibilities.
As a CEO, taking a positive vacation from your business does take some planning and preparation, but your business needs a vacation from you, just as much as you need a vacation from it. Jim Rohn famously talked about those of us that spend our work time thinking about vacation, only to get on vacation and spend some of that time thinking about work. Neither situation is helpful to anyone. When you’re at work, fully engage in your work. When you’re on vacation, fully engage in your vacation. That way, you can be at your best in both places.
Enjoy your vacation this summer and I’ll enjoy mine this week. I’ll be out of contact the rest of this week, but I know our Team will handle things in my absence. I’m excited to engage fully with my family while I’m gone, and I look forward to returning refreshed and energized about seeing everything that was accomplished in our company in my absence.
Tell Us About Your Vacation
Comment below with the answers to these questions:
1. Where is your favorite vacation spot?
2. How ling does it take for you to fully unplug on vacation?
3. What is your best tactic to stay unplugged and not get sucked back into work?
Thanks for sharing as we all try to make our vacations better!