There are fears associated with going on vacation:
- They need me, I am essential to the success of the program and irreplaceable.
- They don't need me. I am not adding much value to the program and quite replaceable.
The challenge is to allay both fears. Each one is very real even if none of us want to admit either one.
The truth is somewhere in between depending on the specific situation. We need to communicate the following to people well. You are unique. We like having you in your job, there is a reason you are in the job you are in. You create value for us. Sure, it may be hard to quantify and political sometimes, but you are there for a reason. On the other hand, yes, you are in fact replaceable and we will survive for two weeks without you. After all, someday you will be promoted, retire, or take a different assignment.
I started writing this strictly in the realm of business and corporate life, but this applies to other relationships as well. Certainly, a parent is needed by a child more than any one employee is needed by a corporation. At the same time, that child grows and becomes more independent and does not need the parent in the same way a three month old baby does.
My solution has been telling people that they need to not check their email or log into their computers, and also that we will be waiting for them when they return. Go, do your thing, we'll be here when you get back.