Bing: How to take a vacation
You must persevere, even when your boss behaves like an abandoned puppy.
(Fortune Magazine) -- Establishing a summer getaway requires the kind of aggressive, simultaneous upward and downward management that you don't learn in business school. Fortunately, you have me. Let's get started.
Up - Send a memo to Bob asking if it's okay for you to take two whole weeks together, informing him of the date and perhaps inquiring whether it fits with his vacation plans. This will not only inform him of your potential nonpresence but will also remind him that he himself will be taking time off and that others might be entitled to some also.
Down - Inform your subordinates of the dates when you will be away. If any of them were planning to take the same time, tell them they're out of luck. Establishing a bona fide vacation is a war. Yours should not be a casualty.
Up - Once you've made your travel arrangements, mention that fact to Bob, employing a breezy style that lets him know your vacation is proceeding according to plan and you're happy about it and hope he shares that happiness, seeing how he's so tuned in to other people's feelings and all.
Down - Ten days before you are scheduled to depart, go over all your potential issues and do a massive core dump on all available life forms -- reportees, colleagues, the guy who cleans the fish tank. "What's this meeting with Beanie and Cecil doing on my agenda?" you may ask the clueless noid who put it there. "I'm going to be away, as I told you 16 times already." To which he will reply, "You're going away? Really?" Proving that just because people are small and powerless doesn't mean they're any less self-centered.
Up - Are you going to someplace like Belize, which has bugs as big as footballs? Did you remember to get your shots? Afterward, did you make sure to complain that those inoculations hurt, within earshot of Bob? You did! Good for you! Now use the phrase "When I'm on vacation next week" no matter what the subject at hand, as in, "When I'm on vacation next week, the only liquidity issues I'll be dealing with will be in a tall, frosty glass!"
0:00 /2:46Bing fails his stress test
Down - Call in each of your key people and ask what they are planning to do during your absence. Amazingly, one will mention that he or she is planning to be away, even though you have ensured that nobody would be doing so. Be kind to this person, because he is likely to be a boss one day.
Up - The Wednesday before your last Friday, Bob will inform you of an important meeting/project that will have to be done "next week." Do not flinch. "Bob," you must say, "you know of course that I'm out." Bob will look hurt. He may even question your dedication. Suck it up. Executive amnesia is a form of authoritarian terrorism that must be fought.
Down - It's Friday. Leave an away message on your e-mail. Say goodbye to your colleagues, friends, and serfs. Then wait for the phone call that will most surely come.
Up - 6:17 p.m. The phone rings. It's Bob. He wants to chat about nothing in particular, so you laugh and scratch for a while; then he says lightly, "So I'll see you Monday." You are stunned, mute. "Oh. Right," Bob mutters after a time, a tiny puppy being abandoned by its owner, "you're flaking out for a couple of weeks." Then, with luck, he wishes you bon voyage. If he does not, hang tough. Do not cringe. The guy is a madman. But even madmen need limits -- maybe more than other people.
Self - Now ... curbing your desire to stay in touch while you're away? That's another story. After all, you're a madman too.
Stanley Bing's latest book is Executricks, or How to Retire While You're Still Working (Collins), available at finer bookstores everywhere. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more Bingstuff, go to his website, stanleybing.com.