Just as August gives way to September and the familiarity of autumn, returning to work after a break allows us an opportunity to reconnect with our work, examine our feelings of familiarity and approach our leadership anew.
If we don’t make the best of our break, disconnecting from emails, calls and stakeholders, we lose the restorative value that a break can provide. These benefits are often highlighted by the usual ‘getting back into the swing of things’ tropes. We rest more while on holiday making it harder to wake up the first few mornings, or it takes us a moment longer to recall certain information because instead of thinking about that, we’ve been thinking about the scenery and the food and anything but work.
When we return to work, when we’re moving at this slightly slower pace, we have an opportunity to reappraise how we work as we reconnect to it.
Part of not being at work, not being involved in the minute-to-minute activity of leading a team, is slightly forgetting the experience. So when you come back to it and you go through a process of recall, you can take an extra moment to reassess, is this the best way, how else could this work? Your time away from work has cleared your mind of the repetition, use that clarity to explore some new ideas, without automatically falling back into the habitual.
This approach requires a certain amount of resilience on our part, not to get caught up in an overflowing inbox as soon as we step back through the door. Trust in your stakeholders to highlight anything critically urgent and take care of those things directly. Otherwise, approach your first few days back at your post as a time to reconnect and you’ll find that you have the mental space to explore new methods and ideas.
The benefits of a break and a measured return to work are not just yours, but those of your colleagues as well.
Just as we are returning to work and reconnecting with a view to how things may be improved, those that have covered in our absence may well have new ideas too. They may have had their first contact with a process they don’t usually oversee or worked with teams usually beyond their remit. This has been a fresh experience for them as well and has likely stimulated some ideas for them too.
Now is your chance to not only examine new ideas you might have but to take on observations from other people who are fresh to the process, who will undoubtedly have their own insight. Combining your fresh take with their novel observations can recontextualise something that you previously thought was very familiar, perhaps even staid.
The benefits of a good break are, within themselves, vital for the health of our leadership. But these benefits do not end when we land back home. With foresight and some planning, not only can we continue to benefit from our break after our return to work, but our teams and colleagues can too.
If you’d like to know more please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.