From now until fall you will have team members who need to take time off and vacation. This happens in every company – and leaders must have a strategy to cover this important business event.
As a technology leader, at some point in the year you need to cover your IT crew’s vacations, and daylight savings time is usually “the right time”. However, the goal is for your company’s systems to perform well regardless of the time of year or the number of employees. So make your time and your time productive is the name of the game.
1. Reevaluate your ability to plan vacations
A skills matrix can help your managers determine who can provide support and assistance during other team members’ downtime. The skills matrix will also help you plan employee development over the coming months. You want a calendar that shows the allowed time off periods for all employees. With a team calendar, you always have cover when your team is managing their own time plans. Personal responsibility often binds the team.
2. Keep meticulous records.
Keeping records will help ensure all time off is accounted for. Additionally, keeping a record helps everyone stick to protocol and ensures that no one in the company (including management) takes advantage of the generous vacation policy.
Make sure that all steps are described and how many days before the absence the person has to give notice. Procedures are never entirely in a person’s brain and this method enables the company to keep track of employees and their days off.
3. Use a holiday calendar
It helps to use an absence management tool like a shared calendar. A clear vacation policy allows team members maximum autonomy, and flexibility works best. For example, a clear set of guidelines like, No department is allowed to take holidays at the same time, ensures all teams are covered at the same time.
Cross Training (added to your calendar) allows team members to wear many hats and covers for each other.
4. Create and follow a procedure.
It feels good to be a hero to your team – someone much needed. However, a process and its components can only function as a function of the entire organization. Managers must first define the process before enacting, improving and trusting furlough procedures to work in the best interests of the company and its employees. Vacation time plays an essential role in keeping company systems and checks and balances in order.
5. Use external services.
The ideal answer for time off and work-life balance is a combination of internal and external staff. This duel enterprise usage ensures reach and continuity. In addition, service contracts often include additional coverage to cope with the summer increase in working hours and vacation time – accompanied by a slump in productivity.
6. Create a culture of accountability.
When someone takes time off, they must be accountable and guarantee that their work will be done and billed for in advance. In addition, the employee must be responsible for the training of his deputy. It can be helpful to use a broader picture of vacations and work and assign more than one person to complete tasks. Succession planning, risk management and career advancement in the company sometimes help employees to keep an eye on the company ball.
7. Schedule a backup downtime.
Prepare for an unexpected surge in backup workload. Make a list of professionals who can fill in while others are on vacation. Remember to have this option available – but only use it when necessary. Then you can sit back and relax knowing that the team’s furlough has no impact on overall company operations or strategy.
8. Share a calendar to communicate.
A successful approach involves implementing and curating a collaborative platform such as Microsoft SharePoint or Google Suite. Using such a platform allows team members to communicate efficiently via a shared calendar, allowing IT leaders to adequately prepare when employees are absent.
9. Go back to basics.
Back to basics: Coordinate and calculate what will happen when team members are on vacation. Let employees inform colleagues as early as possible about their job description and responsibilities – and about the current initiatives. Coordinate any required training to ensure teams are ready.
Prepare for obstacles and be prepared to respond in the event of a crisis.
10. Add redundancies.
Building a team requires some skills, knowledge and redundancy of experience. This facilitates handovers when you are away and helps your team to avoid unnecessary stressful situations. In case of an emergency, keep a list of people who professional freelancers can fill out and keep in touch with.
11. Assign teammates.
Form self-help groups of two to three people. Communication is crucial. Encourage people in your small group to be available during their free time by sharing vacation plans as soon as you hear about them. Discuss with your team/leader/supervisor who can (and will) fill in for you and your small group. How you manage vacation time makes all the difference in the vacation experience and how refreshed your team returns to work.
12. Don’t let teammates down.
It’s part of our culture not to let a team member down when a bad situation or time off is needed and desired. However, don’t leave people in the dark about what you’re up to, the progress you’re making, and who will take over when you’re gone. Making your work situation a part of the company culture builds resilience across the team.
13. Use task-based software.
Companies can plan product development using systems like Jira and Zendesk. Assigning ongoing scope to a team with a limited pool of talent and skills is easier when using task-based planning. Employees can take time off without affecting the current workload. The first question you should ask any employee is, “Can you do this?”
14. Plan ahead for responsibility.
When a employee you or the rest of your team will have to take over their duties. Having someone to step in in times of need gives employees peace of mind and keeps your operations and systems running smoothly.
15. Consider better communication.
Before taking any time off, it’s important to prepare ahead of time and communicate with your team. The transition from presence to absence can go smoothly with a little extra preparation and communication. To avoid misunderstandings, make sure everyone knows their commitments while away. However, vacation planning is more of a challenge hybrid work Teams and may require a little better communication than with the team member in the office who sees each other every day.
16. Set up a division of labor system.
We have learned a lot from Covid-19 – that there is a need more than ever to set up a workshare program in both the service and technical teams. Ensuring that work is shared between teams and a continuous transfer of knowledge allows employees to cycle, work and take time off without interruption.
Photo credits: Andrea Piacquadio; Pixel; Thanks!