You know you need to switch off from your accountancy practice when you go away on holiday. But you're worried about urgent requests coming in from clients, or the team not being able to deal with something while you are away. This topic came up in a recent group accountability call in the AMC. So, I thought I would share in this article the advice we shared with our members in the call.
Why is it important to be able to properly go away from the business and recharge your batteries?
Like most things in the world of work, you can only be the best version of yourself if you take scheduled time to recharge your batteries. The quality headspace you get when on holiday can often take your practice from ticking along to motoring along. However, to get this quality headspace you truly have to take a break from your practice when you take a holiday.
What stops us from truly taking a break?
It is possible to be away from the office, but still working in the business. For example, if you get into the habit of checking your emails daily whilst you are away just to make sure you don't miss anything. Unfortunately, this need to check your emails will continually pull you back into the business and stop you from truly taking a proper break. Most of us - me included - take a few days to properly wind down from work. And the more you keep boomeranging back into the business the less chance you will properly take the real break your mind and your body really needs.
Very often, it is a fear that we are going to miss an urgent email from a client or a prospect whilst we are away, which tricks us into thinking we need to continually check our email when we are away. Or perhaps when we've taken a break before we've come back to a practice which is fast descending into chaos. I'm a great believer that you get the clients, practice and team you deserve. If you want to be able to take a proper break when you are on holiday, you need to take responsibility for that to happen.
Set expectations with your team
If you've educated your team to call you or email you with the slightest problem, they are going to call you or email you with the slightest problem while you are away. So, before you go away agree with your team about what they can contact you with when you are away. You may find it useful to get them to think about all the questions and queries they may have when you are away. That way you can either answer them before you go away OR help them think through what to do if the situation occurs when you are away.
Anticipate which clients will have an urgent query
If I asked you now which clients are most likely to have an urgent query whilst you are away I expect you could identify a handful of usual suspects. Call these clients before you go away to make sure that they are aware you will be away and find out if they need anything doing before you go away.
Then look through your client portfolio and see if there is anyone looking like they will need stuff doing before you go away. Similar to your 'last minute crisis' merchants, these people need a call before you go away.
Limit your access to email
I'm really good at the start of a holiday at severely limiting my time on social media AND checking my email. But once my resolve has weakened once, it tends to weaken for the rest of the holiday. If you know that you are similar to me, then take your email off your phone. Or better still get a team member to change the password to your email and not tell you what the password actually is. If you do decide to make it physically impossible for you to check your email when you are away, then make sure you and your team have a way in which they can contact you if they really need to. For example, could they send you a text to check your private email account (which you still have access to!)?
Sort out your mindset
Before you go away, have a think about what you are so worried about. Maybe you are the only one who is good at dealing with client queries? Then think about a rational response such as, if they really want to work with us they will wait until my return to speak with me. Working through your fears is a great way to put your mind at rest.
Make technology work for you
For example, put an out of office on your email, and forward your email to a team member while you are away. Most reasonable people will respect an out of office message.
About Heather Townsend
Heather Townsend is Founder and Author of ‘The Accountants Millionaires’ Club’. In 2015 the ICAEW decided she was the number one online influencer for the accountancy profession. She is the author of 5 books, including The Go-To Expert, and ‘How to make partner and still have a life’ (co-authored with Jo Larbie).
Heather is always up for a challenge. Perhaps that is why she has built a track record of helping accountants grow the size of their practice by 50-200%, often in under two years. Often helping them make partner or equity partner in the process.
Heather is a high profile member of the accountancy profession in the UK. She has worked with over 300 partners, coached, trained and mentored over 2000 professionals at every level of the UK’s most ambitious professional practices. Heather's clients have included: 7 out of the Top 10 UK practices, including all the Big 4 firms.