The Owner’s Calendar – Take a Vacation – A Real One

Vacations in America are on the decline. Only about one-half of American workers planned to take a one-week vacation in 2014, according to a study by Vox. This is down from approximately 80% in the 1970’s. This is despite studies indicating that taking fewer vacations is correlated with increased risk of heart disease in both men and women. The reasons vary. Many say the time off is not worth the pile of work that looms upon their return. Others state that no one else can do their job, and still others fear appearing to be replaceable.

What about you? As the owner or as an executive in the business, are you setting the example to your employees, customers and suppliers that extended time away from work is important? Are you reaping the physical and emotional benefits of unplugging from work and its related technology tethers? What about your team? Is it possible that they might benefit from your absence for a week or two?

Here are 6 benefits (some for you and others for your team) of taking a real vacation this year:

Personal Benefits:

  1. Downtime improves creativity. Countless studies have found that giving your brain a rest from a relentless onslaught of information is necessity for the brain to have space to develop new ideas and to solve complex problems. Several years ago, the CEO of the company I worked for came bounding into my office (after a week’s vacation) with a creative idea to sell a new product line. The innovative idea effectively removed almost all of the customer’s potential objections, provided our company with improved margins on the product, and used a creative algorithm to ensure prompt payment of our invoices. The successful idea became a multi-million dollar product and service line for us for several years. I am convinced that idea would have never been conceived without the CEO having a good stretch of vacation to clear his mind and focus on it.
  1. Vacations are good for your health. As noted above, failure to take time off can negatively affect your heart health.
  1. Vacations allow us to focus on important relationships. Most of us spend vacations with those that we love, whether it is family or friends. Deepening those relationships and creating special memories together help keep us grounded in the things that really matter.

Benefits to Your Team:

  1. Confidence. Your willingness to leave the office for a week (or two) and truly unplug from the day-to-day decision making sends a clear signal to the team that you have confidence in their ability to keep the trains running on time in your absence.
  1. Development. Being absent forces the team to step up and deal with the challenges that will inevitably occur. Customer complaints, shipment errors, installation mistakes, and new business opportunities can all come up on a moment’s notice and often cannot be delayed “until the boss comes back”. Designating someone to be in charge while you are away and then truly letting them deal with the issues is a great way to discover and develop talent.
  1. Succession. As the owner or chief executive of the business, your goal should be to develop future leaders of the business who can carry on what you have started. Allowing your key players to truly run the business while you are away on vacation is a great first step toward allowing them to take on your many responsibilities on a full-time basis. Too many of us believe we are irreplaceable and have to be the “face” of the business at every meeting and with every stakeholder. Wrong. Lenders, investors, and especially future owners are very interested in the quality and depth of your management team.

Take a real vacation this year and then reap the benefits.

If you are having trouble coming up with a plan to really unplug from the technology, here are 10 actionable ideas to help.