Work-Life 7/8/2015

When The Cat’s Away: What Can Be Learned About Team Dynamics Upon Returning From Vacation


So, we went on a much needed vacation and got a little R&R. Now that we’re relaxed, recuperated, and hopefully got a healthy glow, it’s time to get our heads screwed on straight and put our noses back on to the grindstone.

The great part about vacations is that we get away from it all - especially the people who harsh your vibe. Thinking about going back to work isn’t so much about the work per se, but the delight or dread of going back into the dynamics of the team.

If things weren’t so grand before we left for vacation, odds are things will be just as complicated when we return. The responsibility falls upon us to use the opportunity of freshly vacationed, sunglass tan lined eyes to see what is really going on in the workplace.

Maximizing The Morning of Our Return

It’s the opportunity to see who pulled through for us and held up the fort - by taking on our work or supporting our projects - and who slacked off, who backstabbed who or got someone fired, and who lurched on their responsibilities. It doesn’t take but a morning to figure this all out. Odds are, someone will happily report all of the drama and updates to get us up to speed. Look at the first morning back as seeing what happens when the smoke of our foggy perspective clears: are things crazy or are they in shipshape?

This isn’t just an opportunity to see who's done what (or nothing at all). It’s also an opportunity to access our own management and leadership skills and to clearly observe the roles and the dynamics that are truly at play in the workplace ecosystem - for better or for worse.

Like cream and fat, our temporary departure can churn things up and reveal the best and the worst of our people skills and the professional relationships in which we engage. Actively listening to everyone upon arrival to uncover the different versions of what really happened is a way to develop critical thinking and non-judgemental observational skills that can lend themselves towards better understanding the ways and attitudes in which we really work and get things done.

Even with the foreboding prospect of discovering some interpersonal bugs upon return from a great vacation, we must not be dissuaded from leaving and enjoying our well-deserved personal time. With this new perspective, we’re simply getting to the core of the operations and the relationship dynamics that affect the overall emotional and mental environment we expose ourselves and contribute to - in both subtle and overt ways - as teammates and leaders. Returning from vacation is an excellent opportunity to benchmark the overall health and well being of the team so that we don’t have to anxiously dread coming back from vacation or dream about early retirement in the first place.

Coach Leslie’s Questions To Ask:

1.    When I come back from vacation, what are the first things that I observe (through the successes and challenges experienced while I was gone) about the relationship dynamics of my team? Positive and negative.

2.    Can my team operate without my being there? Have I trained and helped ensure operations are steady and reliable?

3.    Who were the key people who stood out in positive and negative ways during my absence? What can I learn from their performance? How can I ensure more, or less, of that behavior?

4.    Judging by the performance of my team, what skills can I improve in order to empower and harmonize my team?