What will your employees do when you leave for a vacation?

Photo by mark(s)elliott’s

Imagine. You leave for a month of an overdue vacation. The catch is, it is on a deserted island, which has no way of communicating with the outside world. What will happen to your employees when you are gone? Will everything continue as usual? Will they be able to ask themselves, at every decision intersection they face – what does my manager would like to me to do, and answer that question? Correctly?

I believe that the most successful managers refrain from intervening in their employees’ processes, unless they are asked to by them. These great managers focus on the setting and explaining the right desired outcomes and let the people do their jobs in the best they can. But, even this outcome perspective about management does not come without limitations. The main limitation being, that people job should align with the organizational goals and strategies. So, one of the main jobs – and challenges – of great managers is to communicate these things to his/her employees.

Now, this could be done easily. You can tell your employees that every time they are in doubt or they think about a new idea, they can check with you. This is not meddling with their ideas and processes, it just a way to guide them. Right? Wrong. Even the greatest manager can’t be everywhere all the time. And as more organizations move away from simple manufacturing to jobs that require the use of judgment, specialties and  knowledge, the less a manager can be there to support his employees and answer all of these questions.

So, not only does the manager face the challenge of creating of a clear message to explain the desired outcomes, but, not less important, he needs to make sure that this message will guide the employees when he is not there.

Lao Tzu said:

The best of leaders when the job is done,
when the task is accomplished,
 the people will say we have done it ourselves.

Two thoughts:

  1. We usually don’t think about what would happen if we won’t be there. Maybe it is just too frightening. But, just think about all the time you can save if your employees will be able to make all these decisions themselves. And I am not talking about your vacation time. I am talking about everyday at the office.
  2. When we try to articulate the desired outcomes and limitation, we need to remember the curse of knowledge. Out employees don’t know what we already know. Don’t make any assumptions. Make sure they truly understand.

So, what are you doing to prepare for you next solitary vacation?




7 Responses to “What will your employees do when you leave for a vacation?”

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