WWe are approaching summer vacation, a time when, for those of us still at our desks, the workload increases and responsibilities can skyrocket. Here are some expert tips on how to survive and thrive when you are the one left behind.
Know exactly what is expected
It can be stressful “when you really don’t know what is expected of you,” says Ruth Cornish, who runs consultancy Amelore and is a co-founder of HR Independents, the UK body for freelance HR professionals. “You are trying, but you have had no guidance or information.”
If you’re covering colleagues, there should be a written submission before they leave, which could include anything from major projects to work on, emails from specific clients you need to keep an eye on, and if and how you can contact them. you can communicate with them while they are on vacation. . “That’s different for everyone,” says Cornish. “Question: is there anything that could come up about what you want me to communicate with you and how do you want me to communicate with you?”
Ideally, you have a work culture where a vacation means a total inbox break, especially at the time when annual vacation can be spent at home, but Cornish recognizes that many people can’t resist checking.
Accept how you feel
You may feel envious or unmotivated if everyone else seems to be having a good time and resentful about having to cover some of your work. “It’s okay to feel what you feel,” says Rona Steinberg, a leadership and public speaking coach who runs Coaching out loud. “Especially right now, as we get out of this horrible moment a little bit, our emotions can get even harder to handle.” Reframe the situation. “It’s pretty good to try another way of thinking. For example, you might say: ‘This is an opportunity to do something different; maybe step up and take on more responsibilities. Or: ‘This is the perfect time to work, because it’s quieter.’
If you’re doing your job and taking on elements of someone else’s, “you can’t do both,” says Cornish. “You are going to prioritize between the two. So be realistic and decide how many hours you are going to work. If you are going to work overtime, will you get paid for it? What you see is people working double hours to try to cover everything. “
Judge letting go
If you are inexperienced, please specify the details in your delivery. “Never assume anything,” says Cornish. “With prioritization, it’s about: what is good to do, what is urgent, what is important?” It depends on your industry and company, but generally things like working to secure new business would be considered a priority; Responding to endless emails can usually wait. “Sometimes people can say, ‘I want you to watch my inbox.’ I think that’s something you have to handle and say, ‘Okay, I’ll spend an hour on that a day and take a look at it.’ What is absolutely critical? What can wait until the person returns? ”
Be your own boss
You may be covering for your boss, in which case, Cornish says, “you have to almost formally agree on what you can and cannot do. Are you really your boss in his absence? Do you have any authority? “It can be a daunting prospect, and Steinberg says it’s normal to feel out of reach, but that doesn’t mean I’m not up to scratch.” It’s about telling yourself, ‘I’ll do a good job.’ You don’t have to pretend. be something you are not. ” She says it’s okay, if a difficult situation arises, “to tell the person on the other side: ‘I’m just replacing my boss right now, so forgive me if I’m not fully up to date’, and to be able to say that with confidence” Unless you have the kind of terrible manager who actively wants to see you fail, “your boss will be sure that you are capable of handling it.”
Enjoy a different environment
“The atmosphere definitely changes when the boss is out,” says Vincent, who works for a facilities management company. “Everybody feels like they can get on with their work, people are a little more outgoing with each other and it seems like we all know more about what’s going on.” He and his colleagues do their jobs when their manager is away, but sometimes they play video games after they’re done, he says, which is “a brilliant way to have bonding time and improve the work environment.” For many people, especially those with young families, there are no opportunities to get out after work, “so having a little time during the day really lightens the mood. I feel like work is more productive and things get done faster. “
Try a different way of working
Sometimes the absence of a manager can disrupt a routine and expose useless exercises. In his previous job in ad sales, Rob McMillan had to endure three daily meetings in which they would compare numbers. “Meetings would be good if you were on target or bad if there was pressure. They generally increased stress and took time, ”he says. “It was a running joke that when this manager was on vacation for two weeks, the sales would go up.” Less stressed salespeople were better at their job, but “it could also be a case of time management.” He estimates that avoiding three meetings for a team of 10, over the course of his manager’s two-week vacation, added up to “an additional 150 hours of sales time.”
Take the opportunity to shine
With new responsibilities, it may be a good time “to show what you are capable of,” says Sarah Archer, career coach and founder of CareerTree Coaching. “It could become more visible if there are fewer people around, including top management. Take advantage of that. If you’re in an office, this could include things like giving reports and keeping them up to date. If you’re working from home, just dropping them a line and letting them know that everything is okay can be good, ”she says.
People may feel anxious about contact with authority figures. “It helps to remember that they are human and that they can be under stress,” he says, especially if there are many people out of place at the same time. “So keeping them updated is a really good thing for them. Put yourself in their position. If you were that senior manager, what would you want from the people who work around you at the time? “
Meet new people
Working in a different department or taking on a different job “is an opportunity to meet people at work that you may not have had the opportunity to meet. [get to know] before, ”says Archer. Suggest organizing a lunch with lesser-known colleagues.
And know yourself
“We have all kinds of messages that we say to ourselves, like, ‘I am a person who thrives in the company of others,'” says Steinberg. “We can get too attached to this view of ourselves.” If you’re worried about feeling lonely or isolated at work, even if it’s just for a couple of weeks, “this might be a perfect opportunity for me to try something else,” suggests Steinberg. “You may find that you don’t really need to be constantly around people to be creative or resourceful. We can say: ‘This week, I’m going to try to be more assertive’, or: ‘Maybe this is a time to practice being more open in meetings, because my boss is not here and sometimes my boss closes me a little lower’ ”.
Bounce ideas across your network
For some people, it can be more difficult to come up with good ideas without others trying them. “Look for people in your network who are creative and inspiring people,” says Archer. They can be former colleagues or mentors. “Ask to brainstorm, as long as it’s not confidential things that are commercially sensitive.” If you don’t have that kind of network, take this opportunity to start building one. A coach could be helpful; find one via directories like welldoing.org.
Be the fun
There can be camaraderie in being the ones who stick around keeping everything together at work. “Maybe there is an opportunity to organize a social gathering,” says Archer. “Something that makes it a little more fun for people who are not on vacation. It can be good for your career if you are the person who is promoting that type of social activity; helps you be more visible and be seen as a positive influence in the office. “At her previous workplace, Lisa, a graphic designer, and her colleagues played soccer in the office when her boss was away. building with a lot of other companies, so there were a lot of hallways, “he says.” For some reason we had a beach ball and we ended up in the hallway, sitting in chairs, kicking the ball from one end to the other. It was really silly. ” This was mainly because they had done their job more efficiently. “Actually, we were sometimes more productive when he wasn’t there. Whenever we finish our work, we would say ‘we finished early’ or waste time. “
Track your achievements
Keep a written record somewhere. “This is what I managed to cover over time, this is what I learned, this is what I think I could take on,” says Archer. Use it the next time you apply for a raise or promotion. “It’s good to have evidence instead of just thinking, ‘What did I do six months ago, when everyone was out?’” In the short term, have another delivery or report when the person you’re covering comes back, says Cornish. “It’s a great opportunity to learn about someone else’s work and it’s a great development opportunity.”
Don’t be put off by setbacks
If there is a crisis under your supervision, or if you make some judgments that don’t go well, don’t take it as a sign that you might not be able to cope with a different type of job or a higher position. “Let go of the word ‘fail,’ it’s all just experience,” says Steinberg. “Accept that you have been placed in this difficult position and you are doing your best. And indeed, is it really a failure or is it a learning experience? “Cornish says that you shouldn’t consider that something that goes wrong is necessarily your fault. ‘There will be a reason for it,’ he says. Maybe the handover wasn’t complete enough, or the job exceeded his experience level, or what happened. It was unexpected. “It’s good to get to the bottom of that because what you don’t want to do is think, ‘I failed.’
With a decent handoff and a supportive workplace, you shouldn’t be struggling with a gigantic workload, but even in a perfect setting, it can be exhausting and stressful adjusting to new responsibilities or projects. “Keep your pace, take regular breaks,” says Cornish. Annoyingly, it’s likely that just when you’re comfortable with it, your colleague will come back. So it’s time to think about opting for that promotion, armed with all your new experience, or at least booking a vacation.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism