It’s summer and that means that many of you will be taking a much needed vacation. But with smartphones and laptops on hand the temptation to work is strong. So how do you disconnect?
Tom Fox is the Vice President for Leadership and Innovation at the Partnership for Public Service.
He told Chris Dorobek on the DorobekINSIDER why its so hard for many feds to take a real vacation.
Tom's Four Tips to Disconnect Effectively
Develop your plan. Because you’re heading out on vacation, not retiring, a transition plan may seem a bit extreme. If, however, you want to completely unplug, you should develop a plan that outlines which individuals will perform your many roles and that provides your team members with the clarity that they will need. Identify any major events that could occur during your absence. Before you pick the best people to fill the jobs you perform, be sure to ask if they’re comfortable picking up the additional work. The process should actually enhance trust among your team members.
Set some ground rules. Have you ever been frustrated with an “urgent” phone call or email from your office while on vacation that turns out to be not so urgent after all? The one who’s at fault for the interruption is probably you. When you establish ground rules but fail to share them with your colleagues, frustration and conflict are the likely result. If you really want to check out, let your team know that you trust them to deliver results and that you’ll only respond to emails and voicemails upon your return. If your job regularly deals with true emergencies, you might talk about what types of issues will really warrant a conversation during the vacation.
Stick to the plan. If you don’t want your staff contacting you, shut down the lines of communication from your end. The old cliché about actions speaking louder than words is true in this case. If you say you’re unplugging, but then email your team members within days of taking vacation, no one will take your ground rules seriously. Resist the natural urge (perhaps the compulsive need) to cradle your smartphone. Perhaps you can enlist a family member willing to serve as a “sponsor” anytime you feel, or they witness, that you’re falling off the wagon.
Know what it will take to return. Develop a re-engagement plan for your return. Block time on your calendar to sort through the emails, voicemails and snail mail. If your schedule allows, it may be worth coming in early that first day back to get through things before everyone stops by to ask about your vacation. It’s probably worth scheduling briefings with colleagues who took on some of your responsibilities. They are likely to fill in any blanks left out by the email chains you’ve screened.