Chances are – unless you’re Michael Seto – you’re going to take a leave of absence from your job. Depending on your office culture, your contract, or if you’re a one-(wo)man show, it’s good to have a strategy in place to increase the odds of your leave being approved off the bat.
Before you drive in and ask for time-off for any reason, you need to understand the importance of approaching a request properly.
To avoid backlash and maintain good relations at work, know that the protocols for leave request in your office may be leagues different from anything you have experienced before. While your open-door policy boss down the hallway at your previous employer may have been fine with a verbal notice, your new company may not. Don’t shoot yourself in the foot by going into your leave meeting uninformed.
If you’re looking to get ahead of the curve, have a glance through your employment contract, which should have the number of leave days allowed, how they are accumulated, whether you’re allowed to take leave during the early months of your joining, and whatever tangible rules are attached to them.
To find out if there is any etiquette involved in asking for leave – i.e. you will have to send an email to two different managers before it gets approved – ask your HR. They will know the ins and outs of the process and will guide you on best practices.
Know your rights
Before submitting a request, familiarize yourself with your company’s leave of absence policies. Whether your request comes in the form of an email or a meeting, you should have a well-structured explanation on hand. If any questions are thrown your way (are there any deadlines, who will handle your workload, how long will you be away) you should be able to answer them fluidly. Knowing the policy will help you feel confident, and will show your employer that you’ve done all the extra reading required.
Be prepared (for failure)
What is your next move if your request is turned down? Knowing when the argument is final and when to shake up your argument is important. Maybe you’ll be able to compensate your time-off by working a few weekends in advance? Depending on how important your leave is to you, you should come armed with a closing argument that could put you back in the game.
Vacation at good times
Hindsight is good, and though we don’t always know when work might become busy, try plan your holiday around your colleagues and around workload. If you’re thinking about going away in October, make sure no one else is. Your manager will be less likely to let their workforce leave in one shot. For a better view of what the average year looks like, ask someone more senior for an overview of your company’s busiest times. It will help you map out the best (and least stressful) times to leave, and will safeguard the possibility of your leave getting accepted.
Plan like you’re already leaving
Approach your manager with a plan of action. Instead of leaving it all last minute, make sure your colleagues know you’re on the ball and already organizing how work will run without you. A plan of action, or even a breakdown of the tasks you’ll do before leaving will assure them that the ship will not sink without one of its crew.
You’ll want it in writing
Even if a verbal agreement is met, follow up with an email. If anything comes up where the approval for you to leave is retracted, you’ll have it in writing. If anyone forgets it won’t be on your head, either.
Your colleagues and clients shouldn’t be surprised to find you AWOL for a week. Put it in your shared Google Calendar, put an out-of-office automated email in – do everything in your power to alert anyone who may want to get in contact with you that they’ll fail. People don’t always like surprises, especially when they find out that they’ll be covering your workload while you’re away.