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4 Steps To Having Guilt-Free Time Off

What would happen if you had to be away from your business for a month? This is a question that every business leader should ask themselves. During my years working as a business consultant, it is a question that I would frequently ask the business owners that I worked with. The question is important because it provides insight to the level of infrastructure that you have within your organization. Infrastructure is important for multiple reasons. First infrastructure helps to distribute risk. When an organization relies heavily on its leader to drive day to day activity, any interruption in the leader’s ability to work and provide direction has the potential to derail execution. Second, infrastructure helps to prevent leader burnout. For leaders to operate at their best, they must be able to periodically step away from their business and renew their mind and energy. Third, infrastructure provides the foundation for scaling business operations. The key to scaling a business is removing constraints. For many businesses the biggest constraint is the leaders being a bottle neck for action and decision making within the organization. If you are interested in creating the type of infrastructure that will allow you to step away from your business guilt-free for up to 4 weeks at a time, keep reading.

Step 1

The first step is to define roles and responsibilities within your business. Every individual within your organization should have a defined role and responsibility. This is important so that there is clarity in who responsible for what. As you consider everything that needs to be done within your organization, the goal should be to identify one primary person that is responsible for each task, along with a backup person that can execute the task when the primary person is not available. For example, if as the leader you decide that you want to be responsible for managing the payroll process, you should identify, and train another person to also be able to execute the payroll process so that when you are on vacation, payroll still gets processed. Taking the time to define everyone’s roles and responsibilities, along with ensuring there is redundancy in who can complete the reach role is a key tenant of infrastructure.

Step 2

The second step is to define the processes and procedure that are essential for the effective operation of your business. Most tasks that need to be completed within an organization can be scheduled, which can help to create a cadence for things being accomplished within the organization. The intervals of when tasks need to be done can generally be broken down into time increments such as hourly, daily, weekly, monthly, and quarterly. By establishing clear expectations around when different tasks need to be completed, you can establish predictability around what will be completed with and without leadership being present. The building of habits around when work is completed will help employees to have confidence in their work when their leader is away.

Step 3

Step three is to develop the competency of your team through delegation and feedback. As the leader of your organization, it is your responsibility to surround yourself by talented people that can execute their roles and responsibilities. The best way for you to know whether you have the right people within your organization is to give them room to do their jobs. When you delegate task to your employees, you give them the opportunity to develop new skills. If in the execution of those tasks, they fail to meet your expectations, you should use those experiences as teachable moments to help to advance your employees capabilities. Over time, by you giving your employees the opportunity to do tasks on their own and supporting them when they fail, one of two things will happen. Either they will grow to the point that they are meeting your expectations, or one of the two of you will determine that the roles and responsibilities that you are assigning to them are not appropriate and a new solution will be found.

Step 4

Step four is to establish a culture of accountability. Accountability is the bedrock of infrastructure. Without personal accountability and shared accountability, people will not stick to their roles and responsibilities leading processes and procedures to fail. Personal accountability is rooted in individuals holding themselves to a high standard. You can help to establish personal accountability within your employees by helping them to tap into their values and motivations. People are more likely to hold themselves accountable when they can see how the work that they are doing is helping them to become the person that they want to be. As a leader it is important to help your employees understand why you are assigning different roles and responsibilities to them and how it serves their goals. When you can link what you are asking people to do to their goals, you increase the probability of them executing the task that you are requesting. Shared accountability is important because there will be times when personal accountability will fail, and in those moments, you can reduce the risk of failure when the organization at large is willing and able to support those that are currently struggling to execute their role or responsibility. When you can influence peers to support one another, in pursuit of the company’s mission, you reduce the organizations dependency on you as a leader to be the safety net for success. Employees within organizations that have a shared accountability are willing to come to the aid of their peers when they see that they are unable to live up to expectations.

When you moved into your leadership role, my bet is that you did not do so because you wanted to work 24/7 and never be able to take time off. You worked hard to get to this level of leadership, and that effort was for more than just the job. There are things outside of your job that give you fulfillment, and it is important to be able to take guilt-free time off so you can care for those aspects of your life. Building infrastructure is the key to the freedom that you are looking for. Following the steps listed above will help to guide you towards developing the relationships, processes, and procedures necessary to break the magnetic pull that makes you feel like you can never take time off. Knowing what to do, and doing it are two different things. If you are looking for assistance developing and executing strategies for building infrastructure, collaborating with a coach can help.


Dorian Cunion is an Executive Business Coach with your Path Coaching and Consulting. He specializes in coaching service for managers, executives and small business owner.

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