This is a sequel to
the entry, Reins,
dated November 2, 2001. I put myself in the
successor designate's shoes and this is how I would have handled
Instead of breaking
the news in the reception area in front of two other co-workers, I
would have requested a private conversation with me in my
announcing, "We are taking the week between Christmas and New
Year's off, " this is what I would have said:
"I know you and your
husband have only two weeks during the school year to vacation together at Christmas
break and spring break. It's been the established routine for the six
years that I've been here.
I know we're supposed to
stagger our vacations to be sure our clients' services and overhead are
covered and staff hours are not cut.
I also realize that it is
not any other week. It is one of the busiest weeks of the year,
especially because our student clients are home, calling in for
last minute appointments. You yourself did not take that week off to go
home to Hawai`i, until your father got sick, six years ago.
I accept responsibility
for not making it clear to our families what our work obligations and
time commitments are, especially because we are
just now finishing out our second year as associates. I have been
here four years longer than my wife, and I know the routine better.
For these reasons, please
know that I am aware that I am putting you in an awkward position when I
must ask you for a huge favor.
surprised us with tickets home for that week and they are not
May we have that week off?
Before you answer, please
know that I realize that this is akin to an airline
staffer or retail salesperson taking off time during the holidays, their
busiest time of the year as well. Or a tax preparer asking
for time off the week before April 15th.
I know how my sister
and I depended on your office being open when we were home for our breaks. I know my parents themselves depended on
your office being open, when
they'd come in for their services to clear out their flex spending
accounts before the end of the year.
I also realize I am not
asking for just one of us, but for both us, which doubly burdens the
office. In spite of the liabilities of us taking vacations at the same
time, you still hired us as a
couple. And now we zing you by taking time off
together during one of the two weeks in the year, when you can take time
off during the school year to coincide with your husband's time
our absences will affect client services, office and
each co-workers' production and bonuses, as well as the profit-sharing /retirement
have arranged to minimize the effects and compensate for the potential
Would you hear me out
1. We did not want you
to sacrifice your week with your husband. We remember that you had
already substituted for us during your usual time off, when we were gone
for our wedding and honeymoon.
arranged for So-and- so and So-and-so to cover our days, so we
will not be abandoning our client's care. We'll
be sure to brief them on our clients before we leave.
2. I've already
apologized to our co-workers and now I apologize to you and your
husband. We'd like to do this for you and them as an apology and
compensation: fill in the blank
3. We will ... fill in the
You have my assurance that
we will unambiguously outline our work obligations with our families. We'll let them know that October /
November / January / February are traditionally our office's
slowest months and the best times for us to take
I hope you know how badly
I feel about this. I've let you and my co-workers down, and I'd like to
personally apologize to you and your husband. This
will not happen again.
I would have
"This is surprising
news. But, I see that you are well aware of the effects that your
absences will have on the office. I appreciate that you are doing
your best to be considerate with our feelings. I can hear the concern
you have over how I might be receiving this news.
As long as our clients' care is not compromised
and office coverage and production is unaffected -- that you
have already covered those days with So-and-so and So-and-so -- and
you have already personally apologized to our co-workers, taking
responsibility for how this affects them, my biggest concerns are
I understand that
this is a sticky situation for you. You've taken care of things ahead of
time, and I appreciate that you did that.
I would not want you to
disappoint your parents-in-law, especially since they are now fully expecting you
and your wife back now
for the holidays. I know how happy it must make them to give
these trips to you as their Christmas gift.
You may not know this, but
we were so happy to give you the equivalent amount for two round-trips
to Hawai`i for your wedding gift, and we experienced a pride and
joy when you went home together last year.
My father was delighted six
years ago, when all of his kids were home. He was the happiest man on Earth
Hopefully, within two
years, you will have met your career goal, as we'd outlined -- 28 units
over 4 days, with a two week lead -- all else, being equal, and this will
be moot. One of the perks of ownership is taking off when
you want to take off. It took me a while to get there, but it was worth
Until that time, I accept your
assurance that you will clearly communicate your work commitments to your families.
I accept your
apology. I believe it is sincere. I know it was not easy for you
to come to me with this dilemma.
And he would have
"One day, when we own the
business and become
successful, I'll remember this talk. If my future successors should get
themselves in the situation I'm in, I'll remember how we handled it in a
And I'll be sure they know
how we slogged through X years of working that holiday week before we
ever got it off. (laugh)
At first, I was afraid that
you'd say no and I almost did what you described. Just blurt it
out. But our relationship is important to me, and I'm glad you
were open to how I decided to handle this situation.
"Life is a Gift."
P.S. If you would
like to share a portion of yourself with words, in response to
this journal entry, you may do it here.
only gift is a portion of thyself..."
Ralph Waldo Emerson
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