Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Asking for time without freaking office dudes out

For all intents and purposes, I have three bosses.  To whom I seemingly report to all directly.  Though, on paper, there's meant to be a structure to these things.  But since I figured out they don't actually speak to eachother, and then get all worked up when they don't know what's going on, I'd taken the reigns and meet with each of them directly.  Then I attempt to reconcile their conflicting desires.  It's a freaking blast (insert sarcasm here).  Perhaps this is why I need six weeks?

I'd been waiting to blog about how I approached getting the time until I knew that I was actually approved.  But, today it's official.  I am approved.  By all three boss-men (you didn't actually think they'd be women, did you?).  And my sabbatical will start on February 7.  I'll return March 21.  And I'm quite proud of myself for apparently accomplishing this in a way that they don't seem to be judging me for taking the time.  This was, in fact, one of my greater fears.  What if I got the time off, but had these three sort of freaked out that I'm some fragile woman who couldn't cut the mustard and needed a break?  I've watched this happen before and it looks hard to recover from.

So, how'd I do it?  For starters, I did have one thing on my side.  My firm has a formal sabbatical program that allows those who are highly rated to apply for an unpaid one month sabbatical.  And I'm allowed to request an additional two weeks of vacation for a total of six weeks.  Upside was having this program available.  Downside was that these three didn't actually know anything about it.  Here, essentially, was my approach:
  1. Educate them that there are two options to this formal sabbatical program.  One month, and 3-6 months.  Then tell them I just want the one month (lucky them!).  Further educate them that this is a formal program that I can apply for if they're supportive, which will require no extra paperwork or general thinking on their part.  They just have to say "yes".
  2. Tell them as little as possible about what I'm doing with the time without seeming suspicious.  Do not, under any circumstances, use terms like "find myself", "finding a relationship", or anything else that could be remotely taken as I don't have my entire life under complete control.  I used phrases they could relate to like "get shit done", "knock out my to-do list", "catch up on some outstanding matters with a rental property".  This proved highly effective.
  3. Ariculate clearly why the six week period I selected was the best possible six weeks for them based on current happenings in the office (and do your research to know that's really true).  I got the sense they really appreciated this.
  4. Have a plan for how this is going to have little to no impact on them.  I walked in with a plan for how all of my work tasks would get covered while I was out and just needed their buy in on it.  Everything I said and did was about how I would make this as easy as possible for everyone involved.
At one point, one of my bosses actually shared that they turned someone down with a similar request.  I get the sense they walked in with a "I need this attitude" vs. a "I'd appreciate your support for me to do this and here's all the things I've considered to ensure it has as little impact on you as possible".

If you're thinking of getting time off, how can you make it as easy as possible on the boss-men?  Game on.  Hasta, sabbaticaljo

1 comment:

  1. I loved this post! I can totally relate to the three male bosses, I have the exact same situation. I love the way you approached it.