From vacation to parental leave, sick days to sabbaticals, there will almost certainly come a time in your career when you need to take a leave of absence from work. Whether your leave is planned or unexpected, there are several steps you can take to make sure things run smoothly in your absence.
Document your process
The best way to cope with an absence is to have plenty of documented systems already in place. At Altruic Advisors, we standardize our accounting procedures as much as possible – but of course, every nonprofit organization has their own unique needs and they all operate a little differently. To adjust for these specific quirks, it’s important to document these details in a place that’s easily shareable with the rest of your team. In an ideal world, you would have time to prepare your team before taking an extended leave of absence; but in a pinch, you may not have the time or ability to explain these nuances of your job beforehand. Having your processes clearly documented can help others fill your shoes while you’re away.
Schedule a transition period
If you are able to plan your leave in advance, be sure to allow some time for a transition period. Before you leave the office, schedule training sessions with the team members who will be filling in for you. Have them start taking over your workplace duties while you are still available to answer questions. This will identify areas where more explanation is needed and should make for smoother sailing in your absence.
As with most things, communication is key! Reach out to your team members and give plenty of notice to prepare for a planned leave. Let your clients or partner organizations know that you will be out of the office and provide them with coverage information so they know who to reach out to for help. Begin to copy your coworkers on emails before you leave, so that they will know what is in progress when your leave begins. Let them know of any outstanding issues that might come up so they can be prepared.
Have a shareable to-do list
We all have a preferred method for keeping track of our to-do lists. At home, I swear by my hand-written list that lives in a notebook on my desk. But at work, that notebook would be pretty useless to anyone else. Instead of keeping your lists locked away in a notebook that only you can see, it’s better to store these lists in a place where others can pick up where you left off. By using a shareable, cloud-based checklist to manage workplace tasks, any staff member can jump in at any time and see the status of what has been done and what’s coming up. This could be a huge help in keeping your deadlines and scheduled tasks on track the next time someone is out – whether it’s an expected absence or not.
Keeping all of your day-to-day work activities documented and organized can seem like a daunting task, but it’s worth taking the time. Things that may be second nature to you could easily be forgotten or misunderstood by someone else. By thinking carefully about your workflow and sharing these details in an easily accessible location, your team will be prepared to help cover your absence and your transition back to work will be that much smoother.