Guide to managing vacations in the team

In this blog, I will provide a few steps managers can use to effectively manage team vacations and ensure no delays in team goals.

Srihari Udugani
5 min readMar 27, 2024
Photo by Upgraded Points on Unsplash

Many managers get scared when a team member wants to apply for vacation for a week or more.

Due to a lack of proper planning and expectation setting, team members randomly ask for vacations. This creates pressure on the Manager to balance the vacation approvals and ensure the deliverables from the team are on time.

All managers know vacation is one of the crucial parts of ensuring team members rejuvenate themselves. But also, it is equally important for the managers to make sure the team members do not abuse the system to go on vacation as they like.

In this blog, I will provide a few steps the managers can take to ensure no impacts due to team member vacations.

Steps that can help

Below are the steps that will help managers plan the vacations for the team in a way that does not impact team goals.

Step#1: Expectation setting
Many managers make the mistake of not setting expectations on the process for requesting vacation time.

Managers must set the process to set the expectations on
▪ how advance the vacation request should be sent
▪ vacation will be approved if there are no overlaps
▪ vacation will be approved only if there are no major milestones

Also, managers must set expectations about what kind of vacations will be approved without any questions and without any advance request. For example,
▪ medical emergencies
▪ taking care of a family member who is critically ill
▪ marriage

Step#2: Replacement identification
As soon as there is a vacation request is raised and it is an approvable request, then the immediate next step is to start identifying the replacement during the vacation period.

Many managers wait until the last moment for this. It will only create pressure rather than anything else.

The team member who has raised the request should start tagging the replacement member in all discussions and implementation processes so that when the team member is away, the replacement member can manage the pending activities.

This is why having a smart bench to support such a situation becomes at most important.

Step#3: No vacation period
Vacation is an important aspect for team members to get as a benefit for working in an organization. But it cannot be approved in a certain period.

The reason, during these months or weeks there will be strategy meetings, team activities or team building activities, major customer releases or major product releases, etc.

Managers need to identify such months or weeks and work with the HR team to announce to the team so that they are aware that no vacation will be approved during that period unless it is some sort of emergency.

This will also help you as a manager to be stress-free as the whole team will be available during the key milestone releases.

Step#4: Vacation limits
As managers, we need to control the number of vacations for each team member. Without this, there are chances that team members will abuse the vacation facility that the organization provides all employees in good faith.

So, managers need to discuss with the HR team and come up with a narrative to set an expectation on how many vacations will be approved for each team member and why it is important.

By setting the vacation limits, a manager will get greater control over the availability of team members and help in planning and allocation activities.

Step#5: Tracking of vacations
As soon as a vacation is approved, it must be logged in a system or an Excel sheet to keep track of all vacations.

Centralizing the information on vacation will help you to check for any overlaps between two members who are working on similar activities and also check whether the replacements are identified or not.

So track all vacations and make it a habit of updating it regularly, so that you don’t miss out on any vacation.

Step#6: Risk identification and communication
Sometimes even after taking all the steps by the book, there will be a few odd cases that will result in delays or overrun of tasks.

So it is good to identify such a situation and highlight it to senior management or any stakeholder who will be impacted.

This will ensure that there are no surprises when there are delays due to vacations. It also helps you to be transparent with the stakeholders and build trust when it comes to managing the vacations and overall team delivery.

Final thought

Vacation is one of the crucial parts for team members to rejuvenate themselves. Hence as a manager, it is important to allow team members to go on vacations.

However, it is equally important for managers to make sure that team members do not abuse the vacation facility and are unavailable during crucial milestones.

So, as managers, it is most important to set expectations
▪ on how advance the request should be raised,
▪ setting up a limit of vacation for each member,
▪ set up a period where no vacations will be approved.

As managers centralizing the vacation information will help,
▪ to verify any overlapping vacations before approval,
▪ to track replacement knowledge transfer situations,
▪ to identify any risks due to the unavailability of team members.

With team member's vacation management, don’t forget to plan your vacation time to rejuvenate. With the above steps, you will have full control over the request and lower the anxiety due to the unavailability of team members during crucial times.

Happy management!

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Srihari Udugani

Knowledge Made Simple and Structured, Decisions Made Clear. Happy success!