Working on vacations (as a Lead)

Working on Christmas

These are some random thoughs/tips, related leadership and working on vacations.

If you are team-lead/manager/supervisor/whatever-you-call-it:

If you took vacations, and some of your reports happen to work while you are away, do not text them. If you do, in the best they will think that you are workaholic, in the worst that you don’t trust them to run the show while you are absent.

Do not brag about working during vacations (or weekends) saying things like “I found some time to do X during the Christmas break…“. It creates implicitly expectations, that your reports should also sacrifice their “free-time” to do the same, and I hope you don’t want that.

If you are behind the schedule for a deadline, 1-2 days of work during vacations (while you should spend the time with family and/or friends) will probably not help you meet the deadline, and worst, if you miss the deadline, you will be depressed/sad that you sacrificed your family time.

Do not celebrate people who work over vacations, it has dangerous side-effects, including burnout and depression. They’ll feel that they have to do it again, since it was so much appreciated. The rest of the team will feel anxiety, that their contribution will be undervalued.

Breaks are important, they leave space for re-energizing yourself, you will not find solutions to the work problems if you think more or harder during vacations, you may find if you let your brain rest. Your brain and the brain of your team.

For your team you are the image (or big part of it) of the organization. As the say goes “Employees don’t leave companies they leave managers”, working while you should be on vacations creates a bad image of the company, that is so shaky that employees have to work during breaks. Noone wants to work in a place that feels unstable.

Published 27 Dec 2019

Software Engineering Lead, Certified AWS Solutions Architect. Newsletter with links for tech leads Opinions are my own and not necessarily the views of my employer.
Avraam Mavridis on Twitter