Strategic Human Capital Insights

Why Ignoring the ‘Busyness Challenge’ Could Ruin Your Vacation

Beautiful family at the beachAs managers, facing the vacation season always proves challenging. When the first person approaches you with the request to take off a day or two for a long weekend, or another employee is planning a one or two-week family vacation, the stress of ‘how is the work going to get done’ begins. 

Have you ever asked yourself one or more of the following questions:

  • How did the plan you had to provide backup for everyone on your team not get executed?  Where did the time go?
  • How are you going to get the right people trained up with the right set of skills and competencies to get the job done right
  • How can you tell some employees that they will need to reschedule their vacations due to a lack of backup
  • What is going to happen to employee morale
  • What is your boss going to think of your planning skills
  • How did this happen again? 

The Yearly Malady

This yearly malady happens, when in the course of a year, you have allowed yourself and your team to fall victim to the ‘busyness syndrome’. It often sounds like and feels like, “I can’t plan for developing appropriate backup this week because everyone, including myself, is so busy!” And we postpone planning for employee development and backup till next week, next month or next quarter. And then reality sinks in and we are desperately facing vacation season. And once again, we are unprepared. 


Growth and Change:  The Double Whammy!

As companies are in growth acceleration mode, change is happening all around us and employee skills are changing, eroding or becoming obsolete, the old excuse of, “I didn’t get around to it” has much more dire consequences. With growth and change, lack of backup planning can have serious business implications extending far beyond your department.  


It’s Time to Deal with Vacation, Back up and the ‘Busyness Challenge’   

It may be late in the season, but there is still time to begin to attack this problem head on.  Here are some emergency tips:

  • Go back to your job descriptions and revise them, if necessary. Be sure to break down the tasks so they have tangible definition and are measurable. 
  • Identify the first set of tasks that a designed employee can immediately and easily begin to learn to provide the required emergency relief, and that means today!
  • Take the job description again and determine the next set of more complex tasks that need to be learned by a back-up employee. 
  • Now it’s time to finally develop a real and realistic development plan with a designated and specific timeline. 

Remember, since you are in emergency mode, you may not have a perfect plan, but you have started to create the beginning elements of a departmental back-up plan.  Now you can start to use this emergency plan to establish and implement a rigorous and permanent plan that should be in place for any contingency. This plan should also be used for continuous employee development which is required for human resource capacity planning and forecasting. As a manager, this should be a routine part of your management role. 

It’s time to start this process now. If you postpone it again, you will only find yourself in the same situation. Only you can be the catalyst in this process. Beware of the tyranny of urgency. That’s what got you or your team to this point!

We invite you to download our eBook: "Human Asset Management Strategy: A New Approach", which provides a multifunctional guide to human capital capacity planning.

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Topics: Human Asset Management, Performance Management

Posted by Joanne Flynn

Joanne Flynn

In 2014, Joanne Flynn founded Phoenix Strategic Performance, a strategic human capital advisory firm. Prior to this, Joanne was Vice President at Goldman Sachs for 10 years responsible for global learning and development. She then led the consulting practice of Phoenix Group International, a consulting firm specializing in global financial service. Joanne is now taking best practices from the people-intensive financial services industry and adapting those best practices to startup and growth businesses. She is a thought leader in the areas of strategic organizational alignment, organizational agility, human capital gap analysis, leadership challenges for the new workplace and transformation leadership.

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