How to actually take a holiday

Last updated 05:00 24/12/2012

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I've managed my business for the past six years, without much of a holiday, and am in dire need of a month's break. I have a senior staff member who can take the reins while I'm gone, however I think I'll struggle to not feel the need to check up on him every day while I'm on holiday. Suggestions?

A: Take a load off. The past year has been a tough one for a lot of businesses and a good break is pretty crucial. If you have the faith in your senior team member to step in while you take some time off, recognise that and let go of the reins for a while.

Doing that successfully will come down to the preparation you put into it, and how you set up your interim manager for success.

Having a frank talk about what the key issues and core activities are for the month you are away is a good start. Bring your senior staff member into the loop on management decisions prior to you taking off, so he understands where things stand as he steps into the driving seat.

If there are core critical decisions to be made while you are away, plan for them and run the plan with your team before you leave. Mitigate any fallout by trouble shooting any possible glitches.

Set up key support people (e.g. accountant, lawyer, maintenance etc) by communicating that you'll be handing over the business for a month, and introduce the interim manager over a coffee. The idea is for your team to call them not you if help is needed.

If you need to, if might be helpful to agree with your interim manager that he will send you a weekly report, short and to the point, of key metrics and issues. This is for your peace of mind, and should either be one way only (i.e. for your info) or any reply should be strictly limited to direct questions.

The upside of this if you can pull it off, aside from you getting some downtime, is that you are building independence into your business. In order to be robust and valuable, any business should be able to operate without relying on key people.

Nick Churchouse is the venture manager for Creative HQ.

A: You need to be prepared for things to be done differently while you are away. As such, before panicking, ask yourself “even though it was not handled in the way you would do it, did it achieve a satisfactory result?”

It is very normal to have this sort of anxiety over your business. I would put in place some mechanisms to put you at ease. This could be as simple as a text each day from your deputy or a simple catch up a call once a week.

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Depending on the person, you may want to incentivise them with a bonus if they meet some performance criteria while you are away – even if that is business as usual.

If you are totally paranoid you can observe plenty from afar – everything from monitoring bank accounts, checking files or even remote monitored camera's. However for your rest to be effective you do need to have some faith and let things run without you.

I have witnessed numerous occasions when key people have been forced to leave the business because of health or family situations and the remaining staff have covered more than adequately. If you have a good team, be prepared to be surprised.

Mark Robotham is an SME business adviser. Website: growthmanagement.co.nz

- BusinessDay.co.nz

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