As an HR depart- ment of one, I find it hard to
ever be on vacation.
Even when you’re
gone, you still need
to be “available,”
whether it is via text
message, Skype or
e-mail. I always try to plan accordingly for
my absence and anticipate anything that
might be needed while I am out. I try to
make forms available and make sure others have my contact information should any
situations arise. It’s also a good idea to parcel out your work to three or four trusted
associates with some knowledge of HR.
Whether we want to believe it or not, the
place can function without us.
—Dave Ryan, SHRM-SCP, director of
HR, Mel-O-Cream Donuts, Springfield, Ill.
Christina Folz is the editor of HR Magazine.
This special section relates to Consultation,
one of the nine com-
petencies on which
SHRM has based its
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I break my work up into three categories: must, maybe and nope. I then determine what needs to be done before I leave and what can be completed while I am
gone, as well as what must be done by me versus others.
For a task that can be done by others, I distribute it a few
days before I leave in case there are any questions. I generally find myself working extra hours in the days before I
take time off so I will feel less behind when I return.
I have received some great words of wisdom from the partners of the firm:
“There is never a good time to take off work, so time it the best you can, schedule it and go.” That mindset is a big part of the reason I enjoy returning to
—Adam Hoffman, SHRM-CP, director of talent development, Porte
Browne LLC, Elk Grove Village, Ill.
It can be challenging for someone who is an HR department of one to get out of the office, but I’ve found that investing my time and energy in planning pays off. Because I work hard to be a trusted partner, managers, staff and
even vendors are willing to collaborate with me in preparing for my absence. I
message everyone, early and often, about the dates I’ll be out, and most staff are
willing to wait until I return for nonemergency responses.
I talk to managers proactively about issues they are facing so no one shows
up in my office with
a surprise the Friday
afternoon before I
leave town. I mentor
colleagues who are
interested in HR and
allow them the oppor-
tunity to back me up
in specific areas. And I document every-
thing—not just in preparation for vaca-
tion, but as part of succession planning and
as a best practice. If the unexpected hap-
pens while I’m away, my manager can walk
through my processes and handle anything
that comes her way.
—Anne Tomkinson, senior manager,
human resources and operations at DC Pub-
lic Charter School Board, Washington, D.C.