A key team member wants more holidays. Can I say no?

Dear Aunty B,

One of my team has just had three weeks holiday and just informed me he has to go to a wedding in Thailand and wants another two weeks off for this “chance of a lifetime”. (I never went overseas until I was 24.) How much can I expect the rest of the team who are all recovering from the flu to pick up the slack?

Sarah, North Sydney




Dear Sarah,

Repeat after me. Humans are entitled to holidays. It is fantastic that my valuable staff take holidays. It is good for my balance sheet, prevents burn out and sets a good example.


The trick is, make sure your star workers have done most of the work before they go on leave. (Type-A personalities always do this anyway, they go on leave and inevitably get the flu on the first day off.)


Seriously, if you plan things, this shouldn’t be a drama. It is also an opportunity for others to step up to the plate and for you to develop the bench strength of others in the team. Have a chat with your holidaymaker well ahead (not when they are off to catch the plane), map out tasks that need to be done before they leave and how they suggest things should run while they are on leave.


Under no circumstances should you accept the answer “it’s all fine, don’t worry about a thing”. Make them sit down with you and together identify any risks – particular clients, jobs, projects, events, accounts etc that must be taken care of. Assign specific tasks to other staffers and check that they are up to the job. You’d be amazed how much staff respond to the chance to take on more responsibility.


If you are a tiny company and there is no way the team can work any harder, congratulations, you’re going to be busy for three weeks – the buck stops with you.


Finally, have you got one of those year planners (they cost $12 from Officeworks). Make the year planner your best friend. Mark on there key dates, production weeks, events, conferences, even staff birthdays, public holidays and compulsory holidays. Then all staff can see when they can have a break and when you get a leave request you can easily see if it is going to be a hassle for the business.

Oh and one more thing. Guess who won’t be getting a Christmas holiday? Break that news to him and he might just take a few days off from his Thai holiday.


Aunty B - Your problems answered by SmartCompany's business bitch
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