Information Technology Management with a Purpose

Apr 9 2012   8:45AM GMT

Taking an off for a vacation

S R Balasubramanian Profile: S R Balasubramanian

Many years ago, a senior colleague of mine in the company was treated as a blue-eyed boy of the department, and a person who, people said, could be relied upon. He was considered the most sincere and committed amongst us all and some others proudly said that there could be none like him. He was always in the office on time, would sit late whenever required, and would never take a leave. Most of his leaves were usually surrendered at the end of the year. When his earned leave were to lapse, he would apply for a leave and claim leave travel allowance (LTA) but still would attend office every day.

It took me some time to understand this great officer. He perhaps felt insecure and therefore created an air of indispensability about him, for example, some wondered what will happen if he was not there on any day. He did not delegate and kept all secrets to himself. I had left the organization but later learnt that the officer had to quit four years before his retirement due to failing health.

Why you must unwind

The point that I am trying to emphasize is that it is important for us to take a break, unwind and relax once in a while. Some people take a long break once a year and some take two short breaks a year but the intention clearly is to break the monotony, recharge ourselves, and give time to ourselves and to our family.

I still see a lot of my fellow CIOs being stingy with their leaves and they postpone taking a break every now and then. I have heard their families complain: “For him work is more important than family….” There is always a false sense of importance and a feeling that work may suffer in his absence.

I have also seen some of my friends take a two-day off and utilize the weekend to take a quick, four-day trip to a nearby hill resort, as if to complete a formality. Such breaks do nobody a good and are best avoided.

There could be a variety of reasons for skipping a vacation. One could be our attempt to emphasize our loyalty and sincerity; it could be our feeling that something may go wrong in our absence or a distrust of our subordinates. The question is – are we harming ourselves in the process?

Advantages of taking a break

It is indeed a wise to take off some time for ourselves and not burn up in the hope of making it big. Many a successful people I have met disappear for a few days every year. Taking off serves us in ways more than one.

Let’s look at some of the advantages:

  • Repose trust in your staff: When we take a leave, we obviously ask our second in command to take over and manage in our absence. It shows we trust them to run the show. Even though there may be important projects running, we tell the rest of the organization to contact these people in your absence and in a way assure them that all matters will be taken care of.
  • Delegate and train: It is a wonderful opportunity for us to delegate work to our subordinates with clear instructions and let them handle matters which we otherwise manage in normal times. The staff is put to test and we assure them that we are just a phone call away. Imagine you are coming back and find everything in order – it proves that your people are capable and you can trust them with new responsibilities. In fact once when all of us (the seniors) went on a company-sponsored vacation for a week, the production and sales for that period were at a record high. People secretly shared the reason: they said there were no bosses around to disturb them in their work.
  • Rejuvenate and recharge: Constant work, day-in and day-out, wears us down even if we do not admit it. Our tired minds focus on day-to-day matters and troubleshooting, neglecting the long term measures and further development. Once back from a break, we can start thinking afresh and be different. Time away from routine work refreshes our body and mind, apart from the satisfaction of having spent a rich time with the family. That also helps in maintaining work-life balance.

So friends, take off your uniform and head for a place away from work for a well-deserved break. A vacation will do you a world of good.

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