Relaxed vacation as a remote team leader
Just as leaders of hybrid teams fear that their team will fall apart if there are no regular, binding meetings in their presence, team leaders of remote teams worry that their team will not function without them.
"It's already going quite well in my [remote] team. But I don't think we're ready for me to take a relaxed three-week vacation in April. I can't just leave the team to its own devices." said a friend of mine who has been leading a remote team for 8 months.
It is true that team leaders fulfil a central, integrating function in remote teams.
If your role is to pull the strings, ask yourself: what exactly am I doing in the role of team leader?
The pre-holiday check
"Making decisions, keeping an open ear, collecting and distributing information, representing team interests in the outside world, eliminating mistakes, mediating in conflicts, etc.", might be part of the answer.
Check before a holiday
o which of these tasks you should handle beforehand,
o where you can temporarily be represented,
o and what can wait until you are back.
Tasks where you can be represented are mainly in the area of team communication:
As team leader, one of your responsibilities is to ensure that all team members have a central point of contact/person to turn to in case of difficulties or the need for exchange.
Before you go on leave, clarify who can stand in for you in cases like that on a weekly basis - and then pass the baton on to another team member. In your absence, there could be a contact person of the week who proactively contacts all colleagues and has an open ear - as well as time resources - for informal discussions.
This measure also strengthens team cohesion.
Indispensable: the structure must be clear!
If team goals, work processes and areas of responsibility are not clear, this should definitely be clarified before you start your holiday.
Use the following guiding questions for this purpose:
o Is it clear to everyone in the team what the common goal is?
o Does each team member know his/her tasks/responsibilities and the expectations placed on him/her?
o Is mutual responsibility regulated/are there substitution arrangements?
o Is the team workflow clear?
o Who reports to whom, what regular coordination meetings are there, what scenarios for exchange/ unforeseen/ spontaneous events?
o Is it clear what will happen during the weeks of your absence?
o Are the priorities for the next few weeks clear?
o Is there information that only you have access to that you should provide before your leave, if necessary?
o Is it clear who can be reached when and how?
Evaluation of your absence
o Arrange a team meeting immediately after your return for reports from the team and to underline commitment.
o Reflect together on the weeks of your absence: What went well? What do we want to do differently next time and how?
Plan your absence. Check and find substitution possibilities. Make sure that the necessary structures exist and are known. After your return, evaluate how the team coped with your absence and learn from it. After all, a team leader always needs a break from the team!
Would you like some assistance, doing your a pre-holiday check? A quick remote team
counselling can help you find a way into a relaxing vacation!