What The Boss Expects From You: #1

Out of Office

This begins a series of short instructions informing the reader of this site of the various things your boss, no matter who he or she may be, requires of you, regardless of what business you are in, what level of the tree you inhabit, or whether they are crazy or not.

I think these may be useful. I spend a lot of time poking a sharp stick in the eye at bosses, and it serves us right. What I don't often talk about is what we employees do to drive these generally crazy people crazier. There is no guaranteeing that if we give the boss what he or she wants the situation between us will improve. Bosses are people who have been driven irrational by the irrational demands of their jobs. But these are a good start. Here's the first:

#1. Be there. I knew an executive not long ago, we'll call him Barry. Barry was in charge of new media. Now, every year in Las Vegas there is a gigantic rat scramble called the Consumer Electronics Show. It's not really all about consumer electronics. It's a huge gathering of nerds, techs and visionaries from every business discipline that is interested in the future of business as we know it. More than 100,000 attend. It's insane for about a week. Anybody who is anybody or wishes to appear as somebody is there from Bill Gates on down. Apple (AAPL), in its extreme creative grandiosity, actually programs a competitive convention in the Bay Area for technoids who wish to follow their eightfold path. Barry's company sent about 35 people there, including its executive vice presidents of just about everything. The only one who took vacation that week was Barry. He was in Hawaii. I hope he liked Hawaii, because about eight months later he was given the opportunity to spend the rest of his future there.

Last May, my company announced its earnings. One of my guys took the opportunity to take a well-earned vacation. When he returned I took him into my office. "Have a good time in Ecuador, Mark?" I inquired politely. "Oh yes," he said. "It's great there." "I have no doubt," I said. "Please sit down." He sat and looked up at me with big, limpid eyes. "Mark," I continued with maximum cordiality and blandness, "don't ever take a vacation during earnings week again. The fact that you did so indicates to me that you're not really thinking about how you fit into the work around here. It shows your head is not in the game. Is that understood?" "Yes," said Mark. And then he went away. But not too far. He's no dummy.

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so, what's the freaking point of this story?

I'm tempted to add what the freaking point is to this freaking story, but it seems pretty freaking obvious to me. Just this week the freaking head of freaking Bear Stearns was canned because, among other things, he went to play a bridge tournament out of town during a month when his stock was heading into the freaking toilet. Half the senior executives I know were defenstrated when they were off somewhere on a freaking safari in Africa or something. So while you may think the point is either freaking obvious or freaking opaque, I still think it's frickin' worth pointing out.

but thanks for writing.

I think part 2 should be about dress code. We have a guy here who thinks he is above the dress code policy. I can't figure out why the owner doesnt' say anything. It drives the rest of us nuts.

Great idea, L.! I'll do that next.

Stupid stuff! My question has always been "what difference would it have made if those people had been there instead of on vacation"? I think this is a good illustration of how businesses think they own you and want employees to make all the sacrifices, but when things head into the toilet it's these same people who get asked not to take vacations, etc who get the axe and NOT the big dogs.

"Just this week the freaking head of freaking Bear Stearns was canned because, among other things, he went to play a bridge tournament out of town during a month when his stock was heading into the freaking toilet."-

Well Warren Spector's boss (Jimmy Cayne), who canned him, was also at the same bridge tournament, so I question this interpretation of events.... It seems more like a desperate attempt to calm investors in Bear after 3 of there hedge funds ran into trouble over large bets in the Mortgage market.

Sorry, but if you told me not to take a vacation during earnings week, I'd quit and laugh in your face. Why the hell would you want to sit around and wait for that announcement? It takes about 2 seconds and requires no action from anyone? What a jerk of a boss you are.

The point of this story is: If you don't care enough about your job to 'be there'when the company needs you at important times and events, then you should be fired. It's like going on vacation with your buddies when you wife is having the baby. Be engaged, people!

Oh so true. I wanted to take a class that started at 6pm - my boss went nuts and found every excuse under the sun keep me from attending, even if it was on my own time.

that's why I am self-employed.

I understand that a consumer electronics tech executive shouldn't plan a vacation during CES/MacWorld. But on the other hand, people have families and lives outside the job. What if your employee's wife has her vacation period during earnings week? What if that's when his kids have school vacation? Maybe that's the only time he could get a ticket to Ecuador that he could afford? You don't make it clear that he was actually NEEDED that week; you just WANTED him there. Did you make it clear to him BEFOREHAND that you wanted him there?

Here's my compromise: when I'm there, I'm all there. For the 1/3 of my life that you own my time, I will work as hard and as well as you let me work. The rest of my time is my time. Let me know what you require from me and I'll deliver. If you fail to communicate your needs properly that's your problem.

First of all, Alex, I was talking about the fact that it IS the big dogs who often get axed when they're on vacation, not the little ones.

Second, Josh, of course Spector didn't get fired because he was out of town. But Cayne had come to rely on him as the guy who was supposed to be on the scene to handle stuff while he "stepped away," and the fact that he was out of the chair was cited by the Journal, among others, as a source of friction. Just tossing that in. I'm not there, so I don't really know. But I was interested in the fact that his absence was cited.

And finally, Julia, come on. I am boss of a function where the week in question is a hive of activity. Think about your own job. Imagine Hell Week. That's what I'm talking about. And I didn't yell at the guy. I just questioned his engagement.

Oh, and to the person from NYC, I feel for you. Your boss is a loser who doesn't really want to see you grow and succeed. That's a whole other story.

Fred, I hear you. The demands on the employee should be clear and people do have lives that a business should do its best to not only tolerate, but nurture. But there's a limit. The manager of a major league baseball club doesn't have to tell his players, "Hey, by the way, there's this stuff in October that's kind of important and you might want to make sure you're around for that."

Actually, you've missed the big point. Trust. If he had had any brains, he'd have asked and given his boss for his advice in going on vacation. He'd gotten the right answer and the boss would brought him i n a little more into the inner circle. If the boss had said go and then realized it had been a mistake, the employee would have had another chance at close discussions with his boss. In business, you're either in or not. It's obvious he was never "in the gumba" in the first place.

The big point here is from a bosses point of view. Maybe you should consider the employee's point of view. Maybe he should have answered (like I have at Big Blue)....well obviously you've confused me with someone who really cares" or "you never let me in the inner circle so I though you didn't want me there" and so forth.

Stan, I love your books. Having been a counselor for some of the characters you mention in "What would Machiavelli do" I laughed so hard I was crying on a long Singapore Air flight years ago. Everyone else in first class thought I was mixing drugs with alcohol...My God you are funny...and very accurate.

What if the person contributed to the earnings report, got burnt out, and needed a break. It seems that companies need us as long as we’re healthy, hard working and rarely complaining. The minute we relax – it’s interpreted as a waste of companies’ assets and a lack of interest in its’ future. I think it has got to be a two way street: hard work should be rewarded and employees must have the right to enjoy their vacations, in the long run they end up being far more productive, which saves companies money, as they take fewer “sick” days.

I don't agree with the information provided here. As an executive taking a vacation the week that earnings are released should not be an issue. By this timeframe you should already KNOW what the release is going to be and if you don't your company has much bigger issues than the executive taking a vacation.

Been a while since I read you blog Bing so I checked in today and I am reminded about how much I enjoy it.
This is my take. If you want to roll with the big boys you need to understand there is no "My Time" vs. "Company Time". You sneak your time in here and there whenever you can and you make the most of it. But it is not really about time, your executive/boss better see you as willing to sacrifice and as devoted to the cause or they will select the guy right behind you who was there at 2AM working hard when the chips were down.

This just reinforces the notion that no vacation is a good vacation, and that taking a vacation jeopardizes your career. Don't believe it? Look at the American work-culture; most people don't use up given vacation, and instead take vacations in-between jobs.
This is sickening, considering that people do need a break from work, or more time to spend with family and loved ones. Look at the European model - 4 to 5 weeks of vacation, which are actually used. It is time people consider the value of content employees and providing more balanced to life. The new generation of workers will certainly expect it.

Two comments: If your job security depends on you being in the office at your bosses whim, you either don't have a good boss or any job security at all. Second, if you don't know when and where it's important to be, and what to do when your there; you should be fired.

You wouldn't have to ask me to leave a company ran the way you run your company. There isn't a job out there worth that kind of harassment.

Oh no!!!!!! A poor employee took a vacation. It's not like it wasn't deserved, really, the poor guy probably hasn't had a vacation in 5 years! As you become older and wiser, you soon learn that the company is not going to go bankrupt without you, as a matter of fact they won't miss you at all. This is all just part of the corporate bullshit "we own you" culture. Just tell them to drop dead.

In my experience there's never really an "opportune" time to take a vacation. I've rarely taken a vacation and I regret it thoroughly. It's put a strain on my marriage, family life and social life. We all work too hard. We deserve vacations. If you get fired for it, then they clearly didn't appreciate you for your work, just for your presence at the company, which only last until.. you take a vacation! This is the worst advice I've ever heard for a statistically overworked nation.

What my boss really wants is for me not to quit and go somewhere else, so I guess the moral of that story is: become so useful and indispensable that it's not worth firing you for things like missing an earnings call because replacing you would be worse. I've never been 'talked to' because I wasn't available for something important, but then again, I get my vacations approved in advance.

Reading this blog shows both sides of the spectrum especially with the US worker and employer.

My wife works the Earnings season and we both know it is not the best time take vacation. Her job revolves around the earnings reporting so if she isn't there she may as well have a different job doing something else.

However having said that I've seen plenty of managers who lack any sense of respect for the earned Vacation time an employee rightfully can use. Major issue with the US employer and worker is that one US employees work some of the highest hours per year in the world and get the fewest vacation hours allotted. On top of that the attitude that you can't stay competitive or keep your job if you use all of your vacation each year is a major issue.

It is one thing to take vacation during key events or programs where your role is clearly dedicated. It is another thing to not be able to take vacation simply because it is inconvient to those around you.

Another issue that hasn't been brought up is a well planned and timed vacation which avoids major work events but due to delays etc at work the planned trip now lands right in the middle of the work event. In this case if the work event is so dependent on the worker the company should pay for the planned trip fees and offer that worker an acceptable option with the same respect that the company seeks from its worker.

typical corporate crap. management talks about quality of life, work life balance, blah, blah, blah....but why do i feel guilty every time i try and use some of the 5 weeks of vacation that i get each year...and of course we have a use it or lose it policy......

Glad I don't work for you...seems you're more concerned about the business and less concerned about the people who make the business successful. Little is known about "MARK". Maybe "MARK" had just completed a year of 7 days a week 12 hour days to make the business a success. Or maybe "MARK" has a wounderful family that needed a vacation. Or maybe "MARK" returned from vacation ready to start the next big project the company needs. Stop thinking in black and white and view the shades of gray once in awhile and maybe the COMPANY will be more successful!

I think it's safe to assume that any executive worth his salt would know their company's earnings prior to release to the public. I think the point he's trying to make is that an executive worth his salt would also know that after the earnings release, whether the numbers were good or bad, should be available to answer questions and concerns from customers, employees, shareholders, etc. There are 52 weeks in a year, avoiding the 4 that follow earnings shouldn't be that difficult - especially for someone as important as an executive.

I think this reflects poor management skills on your side.

If this employee is so necessary to be physically there during earnings week, why did you let him go in the first place? If you didn't "let" him go, why did he not ask you before hand (i.e., have you been lax about vacation requests in the past)? You need to make your vacation request policy clear to others BEFORE earnings week.

And, why could you not efficiently delegate and ask this employee to get others up to speed before he left? There is NO job that cannot be properly delegated (at least temporarily) with a little forethought and effective communication skills.

Your communication skills apparently seem to be lacking. Chastising an employee after the fact does no one any good. It just creates resentment.

Do you approve your employees' vacations before hand? And if you do, why would you tell someone to never take a vacation during a certain time of year after you approved of it. Did I miss something here?

Dudes! Will you chill, please? I assure you that "Mark" has had about six vacations in the last 18 months and I believe in the right of every worker to take his damn vacation! Just not in the middle of when I need him the most! And if you don't like that, become a consultant, for goodness sake.

If only there was a wet bar in the main area on that week as to make Hell Week somewhat livable(Besides the one hidden in an office or three).
I think some people miss the golden lining when earnings report show that numbers are up. Your boss is smiling, enjoy it while it lasts. Perhaps thats the week you should ask for that vacation instead of taking it.
I work for a small company which means earnings week is once a month instead of quartly. Numbers have been down the last 2 months.
My man at home wonders how the Grey Goose disappeared so fast lately.

This is a textbook illustration of poor leadership, and management negligence. Further it's an example of a manager shirking accountability for good management practice and transfering the blame. It show the manager should not even be in the game, let alone leading it. Fire him - and promote Mark.

If you are in a job with high authority, making big money, planning your vacation around work comes with the territory. Simple as that. Yeh, we are overworked and so forth, but if you think long and hard, you can peg a week of the month or quarter that is slack. Be a man, if you have to move it, move it. If your wife gives you a hard time, remind her your job pays the morgage on your moutain home and BMW.

I understand both points of view....

In one hand, An employee should be able to schedule vaca days whenever they please, regardless of when it is.. IE earnings week, review week, etc....

On the other hand, employees are not "required", but expected to be present at the busiest time of the year..

Having that said, I plan my vaca days well in advance, which a lot of companies are required to do. If by chance my vaca days falls on an important day in which I am expected to be there, I will, ALTHOUGH every day is important at my job. (especially durung tax season) If my company restricted me from taking any days off during tax season, I would not be working there for much longer...

part of vacation is to get away from work related items, not to worry about what my boss will say when I get back.. It is what it is; the sun comes up in the morning, and sets at night. My work will still be there when I get back, but what do I know, I'm just a mid-level employee, right?

One of my biggest complaints about working for higher ups is vague expectations. You have a point, but don't people have to announce their vacations weeks or months in advance and get approval? I always did. I think that would have been the time to bring up the issue. You can't assume everyone sees every situation the same. I mean there's ALWAYS something important going on at my job. I have to take a vacation sometime. I haven't had one in the last 2 years.

Chill? Chill?!?!?!? YOU were the one that wrote this thing about why it's okay to fire people because they take vacations, dude. Nowhere in the scenario you outlined was there any hint that earnings week was in the middle of when you needed Mark the most. Maybe you thought that was understood. Maybe that apparent assumption on your part just tells us that you're a lousy communicator who can't make it clear to his underlings when they are needed.

To JB,

If you believe you are so important to organization that no one would fire you, you should be the first to go.

Managers should never have so much riding on one individual.

Okay, I'm going to say it one last time. I expect people to know what the organization needs without me telling them every day. I did not fire Mark, and I intend to treat him very nicely from here on in, as I have in the past. I did not yell at him. I was disappointed that I would need to tell him that he needs to be around during a time period that is always one of the most stressful for us. I don't think that's out of line for a manager. I think we come to expect things of our people, and feel we don't need to tell them everything.

I really don't think I'm a lousy communicator. In fact, I'm think I'm a superb communicator. So there.

And finally -- my point stands. If you want your boss to be happy, you can start by being where he or she wants and needs you to be. Take your vacations. Leave when you need to in order to maintain a sane family life. All of that goes without saying. But start from the vantage point of being there.

I'm really looking forward to the rest of this series. It's clear that if you guys have such extreme hostility simply to the idea of showing up, you're going to love the rest of my line-up on this issue.

Why did the boss wait until after Mark's vacation to give him the lecture? I'm sure Mark must have mentioned to him that he was going to be out of the office prior to flying out to Ecuador for a week. Why not mention the poor timing then? To remain quiet while an employee plans a vacation, (possibly even approve that vacation), and then to formally criticize him afterwards would feel to me like a premeditated ambush!

The author of this story, is a complete moron. If your company doesn't have a policy stating that earnings weeks are blacked out for vacations, then you have absolutely no right, to say what you said. Not only should you apologize to the employee, but you should take your ass in to HR for a refresher of policies and how to apply them appropriately.

And secondly, "earnings week" which means results are release publicly, should already have been release to this person or maybe they didn't have such an important role after all, if they are kept in the dark about the earnings of the company.

Well, Nat, believe it or not the department is pretty large, and I don't keep an eye on everybody's vacation schedule. I assume people are going to be responsible. One day I looked up and said to my #2 guy, "Hey, where's Mark?" and he said, rather sheepishly, "In South America," and that was the first I'd heard of it. I didn't yell at anybody then, either.

I don't think I need to address the issue of me being a moron. Do I?

And okay, one very last thing for now. Don't you folks understand that by NOT keeping an eagle-eye on this issue, and not micro-managing the approvals of vacations, I am in fact TRUSTING my subordinates to think for themselves and do the right thing? And that I only spoke with Mark when he let me down in that regard? I did not abuse him. He abused MY trust. And I'm not holding any grudges. I just obviously need to lay down the groundrules for this person more explicitly than some others, that's all.

Thats a retarded demand on behalf of the employer. A vacation is a time where employees take time off to replenish after a hard year of working. To state oe can't take a vacation during earnings is selfish on the part of the company. If the company was that concerned with such a request as a vacation at earnings time then the company should of not granted the time off.

Interesting post and responses. I think the point of this story really illustrates the human nature in all of us. In my management role I'm not always aware of when people are on vacation. While I did approve it, usually months in advance, it doesn't always register during important moments at work. I find myself jumping to the wrong conclusion about the employee, saying "Where is Bob? He should be here for this!?!?".

To me the point of the story is, if you want to move up in the world be mindful of how your vacations and absences are perceived by your superiors. Its often not a bad idea to remind them a few days before leaving. If a conflict has arisen, that you couldn’t foresee months ago, go to them with a plan of how you’re going to mitigate it. Solve the problem before it becomes a problem.

Who approves Mark's vacation requests? To me that such sage advice would be of far greater value if delivered at the time of the request rather than upon return!

As long as someone is producing and meeting their expectations in absolute outcomes, i think it should not matter when they take their vacations. This is the reason i am in 100% commission sales. Letting your employees choose their vacation dates until they break some unwritten rule a manager has is BS in my opinion and a manner in which the supervisor chooses to control, passive aggressively - I think it is very petty.

The title "What your boss wants from you" caught my eye. So I read through it. Blah, Blah, Blah #1 BE THERE. Blah, blah, example, example. Simple enough. Maybe not good examples, but the point that your bass expects you to be there is valid. As a boss and an employee, I can live with that. If you don't care what your boss wants from you, then don't "be there." You can disagree, and give a million reasons why it's wrong. But it's still reality. Or are you telling me your boss doesn't want you to "be there"? Think about that one.

I agree wholly with the author.
For this guy to miss earnings week is like an NFL coach missing an important game when his defensive tackle is carried off the field in a stretcher. There seems to be a lack of interest of the job in and of itself - and to me this is a sign that the person lacks competance. What senior accountant deliberately vacations during month end? It's a red flag when people make really poor judgement calls. I'm tired of working with people who do the job for the title only. My coworker took a nice little break right upon hire, and doesn't know more than half of what happened in her absence. The boss also took a week off and can't keep up.

My Generation Y won't take a dumb non-spoken policy like not leaving during earnings announcements. Unless he is directly related to the earnings, there's no reason for such restrictions.

The guy took a well deserve vacation and didn't have to put the company before himself especially when he has done his high quality work. (or else you won't say his vacation is well-earned if he's a slacker)

We'll (Generation Y) be taking over your world soon. With baby boomers retiring, there are more jobs than there are replacements. With a degree and experience, we can always get another job. Worse case, we go back to mama's house and she'll be happy to take care of us.

When our type replaces you in the corporate executive level, we'll be sure to tear your no leave during earnings week policy to shreds. It's just a matter of time.

winners do what losers won't

You end with "But not too far. He’s no dummy."

I don't get it... is that a cliffhanger for Part 2?

If I were Mark, i would look for a new job. If an employee is due vacation then he should take it. As far as earns go, arn't they producedover 12 weeks? This story tells me that the manager is just that, a manager. A leader looks towards the future and position the company to win long term. This guy is playing to wall street quarter by quarter and he will lose one day. keep the good people happy and create a positive work environment for the long term.

If one more person tells me that they can't be at work because "My FAMILY comes first!!" I swear I'm going to ask them if that includes keeping a good paying job that feeds and houses said family.

As a manager, I always told my new hires at the orientation when the crunch periods were for us, and made sure they understood that no time off would be approved during these times. While I understand that common sence should play a part here as far as Mark is concerned, he should have known better, the manager should approve vacations well in advance and not slap people around after the fact.
I had a boss who always went on vacation during the most critical times of the year, leaving us holding down the fort and making decisions he should have been making. So somtimes the bosses are the dumb ones.

Ok, if I am so important as to be required at at the announcement (say, like the CFO), then I would stay.

But I rather BE THERE during the quarter busting my butt off during the time where it actually makes a difference for what is actually going to BE SAID during the announcement.

So, people can't take vacation even if you know they are going. Please tell me you knew the guy was going on vacation, right? Please tell me that your shop doesn't shut down because one person (who you can, of course, reach in an emergency)can't leave for a week.

Earnings week? Pathetic unwritten blackout date for time off; they earned it - let them take it. They contributed to those numbers. Next time, make it known ahead of time when one cannot used accrued time. So, Mr. Up-Front One-on-One, be a leader, not an after the fact whining blamer.

This guy is an idiot who sounds like he's boasting about putting a subordinate on the spot. It's the boss' responsibility to approve/disapprove vacation time. If that task is handled by another, the boss still has a responsibility to communicate his expectations to his subordinates, including when and when not to take vacation time. I'm sure Mr. Big Bad Boss walked away from that situation feeling pretty good about himself, without giving much regard to how he just made his subordinate feel. That shows slight insecurity on the part of the boss, who obviously needs to rethink his pathetic management (not leadership) methods. In the end, a boss has to take care of his people. It's the people that move a company forward. A boss' actions have much to do with office morale. If morale drops, office/company output drops. When morale is high, good things happen. Being condescending doesn't help morale. Respect goes both ways. Treat subordinates with the respect they deserve.

Your correspondent Julia works for one of the most famous individuals ever that believes in allowing very little balance in anyone’s life, and whose company continues to suffer one of the highest turnover rates at all levels. Pizza trucks feeding starving people at 8PM is still the culture. I agree with her and not you Bing man, but if she were any more of a cowardly hypocrite the world would stop spinning. We witnessed an executive drive his people so hard, expect such dedication, that they disregard their own health matters and vacation time; in one case, to the death. In another case, her HR department supported the firing of a high producing and talented individual being driven into poor health and stress issues under that same executive. The executive is revered for driving himself and others even through deathly health matters. You seem to fit the mold. "Just be there." Health, life, and family first is the reason to work productively. You didn't even miss the results, he responsibly had it covered, and you were just incensed of the difference between his and your life priorities. Bing yours are sick and his healthy. Bing, fire yourself, Julia fire the exec and force him to live what remains of his life.

Work or Hawaii and the punishment for not being there is Hawaii? Who's the idiot? No one is going to write on your gravestone that you "were always there for work".

Figure it out and get a life!

Sad planning on your part, dear "manager". It's your responsibility to set the schedule approve PTO, and have appropriate staff to cover it.

I doubt he just walked off the job, and if he went out of country I doubt he did it with a day's notice. If someone approved it, you have to hold yourself to that commitment.

Commitment works both ways. In companies where it doesn't you get staff of... lesser... quality.


Sorry Bling: I read through all the comments and your replies. I'm afraid the responsibility for this is on your doorstep: You say that the "first you heard" of the vacation was when you asked where Mark was. No, the first you heard of it was when he asked for it and was approved.

It is a commitment, and that's a two way street. I'll make sure that my staff honors their commitments, but I will just as strongly honor my commitments to them. And when I approve vacation that means I'm on the line for it.

Solution: Get a copy of a calendar package and write down when you approve vacations and TO. Takes about 5 seconds; use anything. I use Lotus Notes, dumb as a rock solution but allows me to say "shoot, that's big server move weekend" before I approve.

And if someone's on the calendar and the big server move comes up it's time to spin up some additional talent. That's a manager's responsibility.

At this point I'd recommend apologizing to Mark ASAP.

(Good Luck, Have fun)

I concur that this is a leader failure, pure and simple. If the standard is that employees should not take vacation during X period, then that standard should known.

My employees are required to document leave requests in a shared Outlook calendar. On this calendar, I place blackout dates. In addition, there is a standing rule that no more then 2 employees can be out during a given period. When approving employee requests, I consult the calendar. On those rare occasions where there are scheduling issues, it’s easy to hold someone accountable because there is a clear standard and procedure for requesting leave.

I’d proffer that perhaps your organization is too flat, if don’t feel that you can allocate sufficient time and resources to managing staff schedules. Perhaps you need a level of intermediate leadership and supervision below you.

Have a boss who approves the leave and expects you to be in office, it is time to quit your boss (read job)!

I work in the software industry. In the city I live in, it's possible for me to obtain a new job within 10-15 days (I can say this with confidence because I've done it. Twice, so far.) This means that anyone I work for implicitly accepts a manager-employee relationship in which they have no leverage.

At the same time, I produce timely, predictable results of high quality, at an above average rate, with minimal supervision. For a manager, this is effectively a drug, of which I control the supply.

Of the eleven managers I have had in the last twelve years, nine have understood the nature of their relationship to me. No questions about vacation time, daily schedules, dress code, or other nonsense were ever raised. Two managers did not understand the nature of their relationship to me. But within 10-15 days, I assume they figured it out.

It was said the guy took a "well deserved vacation" and yet the man's ridiculed for not being there on the bosses most important day. I think the guy that made the coment thinks to highly of himself.

I find it difficult to believe that most of these comments are coming from the professional sector. The spelling is absolutely terrible.
Gen Y seems to have forgotten about the next in line for the leadership roles. The Gen X'ers.

Bing, I have to agree with Lee Iacocca on this one "Where have all the leaders gone?". You called in the employee and told them that you had a problem with them taking vacation during earnings week, later in the blog you say you don't have enough time to check everyone's vacation.
Maybe what you should do is get everyone together, determine what the earnings weeks will be and put a procedure in place to flag or deny vacation during those weeks and then publish it. Even the worst administrative assistant can usually check a date on a calendar. "Pish posh, more procedures!" you are probably saying, "I need my people to lead themselves!" This is the main problem with American companies today, little internal development or leadership. This probably lead to the fact that you were nervous why Mark was gone, you were worried no one else could find the answer if there was a problem. My question to you is, could you find someone if Mark gave two weeks notice tomorrow? Inspire, Develop, Lead!

Okay, I get it. You guys basically think it's my fault when one of my key players slips one by me and decamps during one of our busiest weeks. People need to take their vacations when they want to. I'm what's wrong with business, because I don't lead and inspire. People have a right to a life. I'm what's destroying the American family. As a boss, it's really cruel of me to call somebody in and in a moderate and respectful tone tell them what I expect of them in the future, since they do not seem to get it without being told. You guys really hate your bosses, that's for sure.

I'm going to move on to What Your Boss Expects Of You, Part Two. I wonder what you'll think of that.

Be there.

Wow Stan! For a Satirist, you sure can stir up a lot of hate and discontent.

I got a belly-laugh out of Anson's of BC comment talking about Gen-Y this and Gen-Y that. Doesn't he know that the Baby-boomers aren't ever going to retire? We can't - Gen-Y's are known slackers who will bring down the economy that we rely on. Besides, why retire when you can have so much fun screwing with the youngsters?
Anson should also probably remember that the Baby-boomers are largely responsible for the rights-infused work environment that he enjoys now. If not for us, he'd still be wearing starched white shirts under pin-striped 3-piece suits with an ugly tie to work every day in the mail-room, even on casual Saturday. I suppose when that missing part of his young brain responsible for judgement and fore-thought grows in, he'll realize that.

One final note to LJ about being self-employed. Vacation isn't an issue because most self-employed folks I know don't have the luxery of taking one.

Thanks, Tom.

Wow! This was almost as popular as your article about grammar. Boy, that was a large can of worms that got opened. I can hardly wait to see how "they" react to the rest of your series.

It's insane to have an unstated policy that people need to be there during "hell week" that is so unstated your employees don't know about it. If you want them there on specific days, be clear about it. It's completely hilarious to me that you use this as a mind-reading style test of this employee's commitment to you.

And, honestly, what kind of a company do you run where the earnings release day is a hell day? All the work is done by that point.

Amazing stuff here. One really must wonder why people think they have been hired in the first place. Apparently a job is now an entitlement with the same set of expectations.
No wonder employers are going overseas.

Hey Bing - you know what? This whole "Be There" thing needs to work both ways.

Our business crunch time is the first 10 calendar days of the month. This month, on the third day, I got a bounce-back out-of-office message from my boss stating that he was off for two weeks of vacation.

Considering that he has to approve everything before it is officially submitted and locked in - I'm really frustrated to only find out that he's gone after he's left.

Now I am careful with my personal vacation time to 99% of the time "Be There" for the crunch. The 1% where circumstances beyond my control pull me out (i.e. the death of my grandmother) I make double dog sure that my backups are fully prepped before walking out the office door.

Now of course my boss can take vacation time whenever he wants - he's the boss and doesn't need my approval. But if I, as the employee, make every effort to "Be Here" when needed, can't I at least expect the same from the boss?

This is definitely an interesting article, and I think a good discussion. Can I share my experience?
In my previous office the director made it a point to congratulate anyone who waited until the "quiet" time to take their vacations. As the newbie in the office, he repeatedly told me how great "Jim", "Sue" and "Kim" were for being mindful of the busy season.
Planner that I am, I had informed my supervisor and Assistant Director BEFORE taking the job that my family would be visiting me for a week several months in the future, and I would like one (1) day (i.e. 8 hours) off to spend with her. They agreed that one day would be no problem. When I reminded my supervisor of this leave, she threw a fit. I took my day off and when I returned, the director made sure I knew that it was a very inconvenient time for me to take vacation. I should have left then, but I held on to the job for another nine months - guiltily taking 2 hours off for much needed dental work.
(Why I finally left: I was promoted, but my raise did not appear for five months. I got my raise and back pay one day before I gave my two weeks notice.)
Moral of the story - work hard, be there, but in the end you have to look out for yourself.

You better hope the job market is bad for Mark, because he is looking now...

One thought as a manager... who approved the vacation to begin with. If it was that important of a time, then the conversation should have occurred BEFORE the damage was done. The fault lies with the management as much as anyone. There was a failure to manage personnel and expectations.

Just one of your international readers chiming in... read part 2 before finding this post, and I must say that most of the comments below obviously didn't read through your replies (except Chris Z). I suggest pointing these out in your post as well ;)

People! Read Bing's comments and backstory!