Nobody can do my job but me… NOBODY!

Jason Pankow Culture, Engagement and Satisfaction, Jason Pankow

I’ve been off the scene for a little while, now.  Apologies for my absence.  My wife recently underwent a medical procedure to remove a parasite that she has had for about 40 weeks.  Don’t worry, the doctor says both she and the parasite are healthy and they are both at home, now.  Plus, he’s the cutest parasite I’ve ever seen.

But…on to talent issues.

Before I took off on my leave, I was struggling.  I am one of those people who believes that if I am not theNo-cell-phone-sign one doing my job, it’s not getting done.  I know that I have very competent co-workers and leaders.  Yet, still…I sit at home with this nagging feeling that a candidate was dropped or a start date was missed.  Or, that my hiring managers, in general, are mad that I am not there.

Well, it’s been 5 weeks, and, at least according to the news, Microsoft and Xbox are still standing.  Is this because of my wonderful pre-planning?  Maybe the exceptional expertise of those who are covering for me?  Maybe.  What I know for sure is that this has been a much easier break than I anticipated.  For all you workaholics who are interested…here is how I have dealt with it.

First things first!  I let everyone know that I would be available for urgent matters.  My Out-of-Office asks people to mark e-mails “important” if they absolutely needed me to get back to them.  In the 3 weeks I have been off, only one person used this, and it was about my vanpool.  Plus, I am able to delete any non-urgent e-mails from my phone, limiting the amount of e-mail I have to fish through when I return full time.

I do NOT give my cell phone number out to anyone who doesn’t already have it.  I have found that, if presented with the option of contacting a new person or contacting me via cell (even if I say “only for urgent matters”), people will call the person they know (me) before reaching out to my backfill.  Still…I have made sure that those filling in for me have the info they need, in case something urgent does come up.

Last…I check in via IM or e-mail.  Each time I do, my manager assures me that everything is under control, and I should go spend time with my baby.  This is very reassuring to me.  It takes that little annoying “something is getting screwed up” voice out of my head for at least another day or two.

Surviving my leave has involved a little bit of ego swallowing.  I am sure I am not the only one out there who is slightly obsessed with their work.  As HR folks, we contently preach work-life balance, but we have trouble practicing what we preach.  We are attached to our mobile devices, connected to e-mail 24/7, and always have part of our brain on the job.  It’s taken some adjustment for me to take this long off.  Adjustment and a kick to the head from my wife.  But, it’s been worth it.  Even with 2 hours of sleep every night, I feel like this has been the most productive time off of work I have had in a long time.  When I go back, I can jump in knowing that my responsibility to myself and my family has been fulfilled without work interfering.

Now…if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to take a nap.