Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

Ask John Dame: New CEO wants to make changes, how to unplug on vacation

Question for JD: I am a new CEO that has recently been elevated from the President’s position as the former CEO retired. Two members of my team are not performing well and have not been performing well for some time. How should I address this issue? I do not want to rock the boat right away.

JD’s Answer: As CEO one of your key responsibilities is to develop the best leadership team possible. From our discussion you believe that both individuals are not capable of performing in their current roles. I would suggest a couple of options: First, I would set crystal clear 30 or 60-day performance standards. Meet with them weekly and discuss performance. They need to move the needle. You can help remove roadblocks. Your hope is that they can prove that they can perform at the standards required. The other option is to give them time to look for another job elsewhere. This option works if you have high caliber folks that you trust to continue to work hard while they find a new position. Remember, it is your job to find a great team that can execute well. It is not rocking the boat to demand excellence.

Question 2 for JD: Every time I go on vacation, I seem to get a call from my team that something significant has come up and I spend a day or two working things out. This ruins the vacation for myself and my family. It takes me a couple of days to rebound. How can I avoid this issue?

JD’s Answer: With our “on call 24/7 culture” it is hard to unplug and go on a real vacation. It seems you have allowed yourself to become the only person able to handle significant issues on your team. Here are a couple of ideas that might help as you (or anyone on your team) goes on vacation:

  1. Set up a set of rules that define why anyone should be called while on vacation. Stick to this. No calling or emails unless it rises to the level of “the place is on fire”.
  2.  Assign who is in charge and making decisions while you are gone. Very clearly give them the responsibility and authority. Trust your leader in charge.
  3. Set some rules for yourself while you are on holiday. Check emails once or twice a day. Set up your out of office notification. Only answer calls from your leader in charge.
  4.  Understand it may take a couple of days to decompress at the beginning and you will begin to ramp back up a few days before you head home. In between give yourself a couple of no contact days

I understand it is almost impossible to get away completely but with some planning I think those “emergency” calls will reduce and give you some needed time away.

A CEO coach to countless business leaders, John Dame (“JD”) is an executive team consultant and leadership strategist based in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. He founded Dame Management Strategies in 2002, serves as Vistage’s Best Practice Chair for South Central Pennsylvania, and founded JD Evolution, an annual conference that features a series of daylong events that explore critical leadership qualities. Visit his website at: johndame.com.

Business Events

Icon Honors

Tuesday, December 14, 2021
Icon Honors

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Summit

Wednesday, March 30, 2022
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Summit

Healthcare Heroes

Thursday, April 07, 2022
Healthcare Heroes

Nonprofit Innovation Awards

Thursday, May 19, 2022
Nonprofit Innovation Awards