It’s my day off. Why am I still working?

March Break, school’s out. It’s an ideal time for working parents to take time off to do things with their children, but taking time off is easier said than done in some hectic organizations.

Last week a manager wondered aloud if he was stuck in a reactive culture and doomed to never have a day off without interruptions again. He said, “I probably can’t change this, but it bugs me. I give 150% to my work, and I don’t begrudge that. But I schedule a day off, and I get five calls requiring a response ASAP.”

Something like this has probably happened to you too. Then, you know what he’s going through, don’t you?

This manager is preparing for his next role as a director. But this incident caused him to question what life is going to be like when he gets the promotion. If he can’t get a single day off without interruption now, what will it be like when he’s a director?

So we sorted through what happened to determine what he actually could control.Turns out his backup person, whom he had engaged the day before, reneged at the last minute. He asked his director to cover for him so that he could keep family commitments.

Well, his director was accustomed to prompt responses from this 150% performer. What leader wouldn’t revere a report they can rely on no matter what. He also assumed his director would do for him what he would do if he were covering for a colleague.

What happened the last time you took a day off? Did you enjoy yourself, or did you have to check in for any messages? Were you checking on your timelines or was it because of urgent inbound requests? Could you just relax and have a worry free day off?

Hard workers take note, especially if you have ever been in this person’s shoes.Two things this manager will need to keep in mind the next time he wants a real day off.

  1. 1. What gets rewarded gets repeated.
  2. 2. Every 150% performer should have a backup person.

Wondering what I mean when I say ‘What gets rewarded gets repeated’?  When you always deliver and deliver well, others become dependent upon you. Because you make it easy for them to get fast answers or results. Why would someone spend time searching for something when they can take a shortcut by coming to you? This doesn’t mean you should hold back, but it does require you to be mindful of when you create dependency in others by carrying the knowledge or data in your head instead of setting up systems and processes where others can access and share the knowledge or data.

I can hear you saying “Yes, but that doesn’t fit in my circumstances.” Well, I suggest you take another look. People who move into positions with more responsibility have to let go of things. Obviously, this is more easily done when you’re in the midst of changing roles. Why not challenge yourself to change the habit before you change roles?

Every 150% performer should have a backup person available. Some people enjoy being the go-to person or a resource for others. But when you start to resent it, then it’s a sign that it doesn’t fuel you like it once did. Also, it leaves the business at risk when one person is relied on so much.

Lately, have you said, “I probably can’t change this, but it bugs me!” If so, resentment is creeping in. Examine what’s changed and why.

You may have more control than you think. Start now sorting through what’s contributing to the situation. Determine what part comes from your work habits and what results from the management culture in your organization. Clarity means your next March Break or day off could be a very different story.

As a bonus, these new management behaviors are very noticeable. They will serve you well at talent pool review meetings when your leadership team is discussing you and where you fit in the talent grid.

What things are bugging you lately? Let me know…………

You’re welcome to share this post with someone who took a day off but didn’t get a day off.

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