professional development

Coping with loss

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Staff members should be able to take a break without sending your business into chaos. There are ways to prepare.

Coping with loss

Kirsty Dunphey

This next statement should come as no surprise to you: When you employ someone, eventually they’re going to want to take annual leave. Why then do so many small and medium business owners and managers plan so poorly for this time?

There are two ways to deal with staff on a break and retain your status as a rock star boss – the very-little-contact and absolutely-no-contact methods:

1: The very-little-contact method

If your staff member is away on holiday find out where they are staying and organise for a bottle of bubbly to be sent to their room with a card from the team wishing them a great vacation.

About half way through their break, send a text message reading something like this: “Hi Tim, We all hope you’re having a great time away. Just wanted to let you know we miss you! Don’t write back, just keep on enjoying yourselves – Jane”

If the staff member is staying at home for their annual leave have the office send them a postcard saying “Wish you weren’t here!” with a signature from everyone in the office.

And when they return, a welcome back note and chocolate bar waiting on the desk is always a nice treat. Diarise to do this the night before.

Should you do this every time someone takes a break? No way! You’ll look more like a desperate groupie than a rock star boss. Pick one, be creative and rock on.

2: The absolutely-no-contact method

This one will take practice but it should be something you strive for the following reasons:

. You must know the businesses will still run without this key person. If you can’t survive for the two weeks they are on leave, how would you go if they quit?

. You don’t generate goodwill with your staff member’s family if they’re constantly having their holiday interrupted with work “emergencies”.

. If your constant contact effectively means the staff member has no break, they won’t get the restorative benefits of going on leave. They’ll come back grumpy and their family will hate you.

How to prepare

Set an office policy of “no contact on holidays” and make sure all staff know about it. (There’s no point having a policy like this if one person has kept the holidaymaker’s BlackBerry running hot.)

Formulate a comprehensive checklist of everything that might crop up – and appropriate responses – before the staff member goes on holiday.

Recognise that there probably will be other things that arise during that staff member’s absence, but encourage your other staff members to fix the problems themselves (they’ll be far more keen knowing that the same courtesy will apply to them when they’re on holidays).

If the staff member has a work mobile phone – keep it at the office during their vacation time.

Set up an “out of office” auto reply that lets email contacts know the alternate contact in the office. This one is the most important if you want this to really work. Your staff member can’t come back from their holidays, rested, refreshed and relaxed, and walk back into chaos with the finger of blame pointed at them because they “were not able to be called”.

Good luck on your journey rock star bosses!

For more Gen-Y Millionaire blogs, click here.

Kirsty Dunphey, the youngest ever winner of the Australian Telstra Young Business Woman of the Year award, Kirsty started her first business at 15, her own real estate agency at 21, was a self-made millionaire at 23 and a self-made multi-millionaire at 25. For more information on Kirsty or either of her books – Advance to Go, Collect $1 Million and Retired at 27, If I can do it anyone can head to: www.kirstydunphey.com

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