After a week away, I come back to the office and find that all is running fine. I have a nice clear day to catch up with emails and things which need attending to. No-one has booked a meeting with me and there is little urgent to deal with. For this, I'd like to thank a number of managers that I worked for in the past who gave me some tips.
1) One manager advised me never to come back to work on a Monday; his reasoning was that if something urgent came up on the preceding Friday, if it was known that you were coming back on Monday; there was a risk that it would be left for you to deal with first thing on Monday whereas if it was thought that you were coming back on Tuesday; it would probably be dealt with.
I've twisted this, perception often trumps reality; so my 'Out-Of-Office' always says I will be back in the office a day after I am actually back. So generally, I come back to an empty diary and no crises to deal with.
2) Before opening your email, talk to your team and then your boss. You can avoid reading a lot of emails by simply getting them to tell you what you need to know. And if you have managed to keep your diary clear, talking to your team about your holiday can help to extend that feeling of well-being for a little longer.
3) When recruiting and building teams; always make sure that the people that you are recruiting are better than you in at least one thing. This means that you will always have someone to delegate a task to and you can trust them to do an excellent job. Don't be scared of recruiting people who are brighter and more capable than you; as a manager, you are there to lead and not to do everything yourself.
4) For sanity's sake, have two mobile phone numbers; a work one and a personal one. It is easy to think that combining your work and personal numbers into one and having work pay for your calls as a 'perk'. It's not, it just ensures that you are on call, all of the time for a pittance. Same goes for the Blackberry.
Having a number that can be turned off which lets you relax and not worry about being interrupted is worth every penny; if you insist, check your work mobile a couple of times a day but if possible, consider turning it off for the duration. If people know you can't be contacted, they'll deal with most situations themselves.
5) Work email; resist the urge to check it. Once people get the idea that you will reply even though you are on holiday, they will abuse it. You can always set up filter rules to forward emails which are really urgent from named subjects/people to a Google Mail or like account.
6) Visit a grave-yard; take note, the world is still turning despite everything!
Oh well, back to work now...