David Cameron does it, so too does Barrack Obama. So why do so many recruitment business leaders feel they need to shun taking time-off in favour of staying in the office?
Recent research from Oxford University found an increasing number of business leaders are of the opinion that taking leisure time is a sign of laziness rather than a mark of their success. It's a remarkable contrast to perceptions from yesteryear.
Indeed, there was a time when the best educated and more senior leaders would work shorter hours - this was a notion which the famous economist John Maynard Keynes echoed. He predicted that the 21st century working week would consist of just 15 hours, with rising wages and increased standards of living allowing people to work less whilst enjoying a good standard of living; this was one theory the great economist got (very) wrong.
Today, Britain's long-hours culture is as commonplace in the recruitment industry as anywhere else; especially with the accelerated rate of growth our sector is currently enjoying and will continue to do so over the coming 12 months. But time off is not only essential for health, it is critical for business success.
So if you are set to join the masses who are escaping to sunnier climes to recharge their batteries over the coming weeks, you need to think about who you leave to run the ship whilst you are away. Here, Spencer Symmons, Director at CPS Group gives some top tips…
Choose your deputy wisely
While the cat’s away, the mice won’t have too much time to play – especially in today’s ever-increasing no-room-for-error workplace. So it's important that whoever you leave in charge is capable of stepping up to the plate and assuming responsibility for the ensuing few weeks.
The infamous management consultant Peter Drucker, once said that 'management' is “doing things right” whilst 'leadership' is “doing the right things”. It can be tricky stepping up to the plate and it requires a certain degree of tact, delicacy and confidence. Some managers will be a little reluctant to take over in your absence for fear of being resented by some of their team, whilst others will wholeheartedly embrace it.
Either way, it is important to communicate with your teams and clarify what your deputy will and won't be charged with doing and make it clear that they are taking charge without taking control. Remember, you need to avoid a situation arising such as that famous scene in the Christmas 2003 episode of The Office when Gareth Keenan was left in charge and took to running the office with Hitler-esque military precision!!
Plan and prepare
Those charged with the responsibility of deputising in your absence may find stepping into their bosses shoes a somewhat tricky proposition. Aside from doing their own job, they now need to understand the job that you – and only you – do. So give them time in the weeks leading up to your holiday to get to grips with what will be expected of them.
Many of the problems that can occur during the absence of a senior figure can be avoided. By conducting a detailed hand-over of duties before you go on leave, delegating shared accountability among your team, and communicating the new – albeit interim – chain of command with all key stakeholders, should ensure a smooth transition of responsibility and avoid any nasty surprises from cropping up whilst you are away from the fold.
Allow them to make decisions
Just because you are away from the office doesn't mean the business stops moving. This is an opportunity for your deputy to show they have what it takes to lead from the front, so allow them the opportunity to make decisions. After all, you're not paying them to be a highly paid answering machine or 'yes man' in your absence – it is not only wasteful, it also creates a negative impression of you as a dictatorial leader who struggles to delegate effectively.
Keep them in check
Corporate psychologist Ben Williams said, “Someone previously a peer is technically now a subordinate. It’s important that the deputy acting up doesn’t get delusions of grandeur” - this could create a serious imbalance within the team. So it's important not to allow your deputy's new found authority to go to their head. Simply briefing co-workers before the boss departs on what authority you will assume in the interim period minimises back-stabbing.
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