For the first time in 9 years I am taking unpaid leave from my job. I am going to Colombia to visit family and leaving my colleague, the husband (strictly speaking my underling as I am Chief Executive and he is my deputy with special responsibility for “financial services and support”) in charge.
Now without wishing to cast aspersions on my colleague’s abilities, I do have my reservations about leaving him to run the “office”. I am not convinced that he really understands the full extent of his new responsibilities and what the day to day running of this extremely busy “office” entails. Not only will he have to deal with the administrative nightmare of scheduling but he will also have to deal with three of my most difficult clients for a whole week. These clients can be particularly demanding and do expect to have someone on call 24/7. It is not unknown for them to call me at 3 am and expect me to perform a full laundering service or the like.
Of course, being such important clients, it is vital that my colleague and I manage a seamless handover of responsibilities and that these clients are virtually unaware of the temporary change in their client relationship manager. I have warned my colleague not to expect much praise or affirmation from these clients – indeed rather to expect numerous complaints and a regular and often harsh critique of services provided.
Unfortunately for my colleague, the “office” driver, chef and laundry assistant are also away the same week as me so he will have to perform their duties too. I realise that he will feel this goes way beyond his job specification and I can only apologise for asking him to do the impossible and carry out my job responsibilities and that of three other “office” workers.
I am of course aware that I am asking a huge amount of him. To this end, I have produced a manual which outlines all the responsibilities and the schedules of our three most important clients. I have stressed the importance to him of ensuring that the schedules run like clock-work and that our clients will not tolerate lateness or a lack of preparedness.
I am very grateful to the large number of female colleagues in different “offices” who have offered their support in my absence and have provided a telephone tree of emergency numbers in case he should find it all too much. I am much comforted by the thought that there is a strong network of very capable women ready to leap into action if required.
I am very keen to let my colleague find his way on his own, prove himself to me. To this end, I would encourage my female friends in other “offices” to hold back unless strictly necessary. Examples of situations which do not require intervention: one or more clients dressed in totally inappropriate, clashing-coloured clothing (to be expected), one or more clients arriving at least 20 minutes late for any appointment and one or more clients appearing in unexpected places at unexpected times. An example of a situation which does require intervention would be if you see my colleague with two clients but not the third – in this situation it would be perfectly acceptable just to ask him where the other client is (just check – in case he has dropped one of the juggling balls).
So I am going to go off on Thursday and try very hard not to think about work for a week (of course I shall be available for nightly skypes with my three most important clients) and leave my job in the very capable hands of my colleague. Hasta Pronto!