Momentum Podcast: 208
Be Gracious About Time Off
by Alex Charfen
As an entrepreneur, you’re one of the most important people in each of your team members lives. Being taken advantage of is one of our biggest fears. When an entrepreneur first starts to get time off requests, it can be confronting. Let me explain to you why the counter intuitive idea of being gracious here benefits everyone involved.
Full Audio Transcript
I'm Alex Charfen and this is The Momentum Podcast, made for empire builders, game changers, trailblazers, shot takers, record breakers, world makers, and creators of all kinds. Those among us who can't turn it off and don't know why anyone would want to. We challenge complacency, destroy apathy and we are obsessed with creating momentum so we can roll over bureaucracy and make our greatest contribution. Sure we pay attention to their rules, but only so that we can bend them, break them, then rewrite them around our own will. We don't accept our destiny, we define it. We don't understand defeat because you only lose if you stop and we don't know how. While the rest of the world strives for average and clings desperately to the status quo, we are the minority, the few who are willing to hallucinate there could be a better future and instead of just daydreaming of what could be, we endure the vulnerability and exposure it takes to make it real. We are the evolutionary hunters, clearly the most important people in the world because entrepreneurs are the only source of consistent, positive human evolution, and we always will be.
Be gracious about time off. This podcast is for those of you who are building teams who are creating an enterprise, an empire, a group of people who are getting together to go out and accomplish goals and when we build teams, we have to realize we instantly become one of the most important people in our team's lives. Whether you want to or not, as the CEO, as the entrepreneur in charge, you become a source of information for people, you become a source of feedback, a source of recognition, a source of one of the most important reflections of where they're creating value and who they are. One of the things that happens when we begin to manage people is we are confronted and in some ways I would say assaulted with all of these new decisions we have to make in managing and leading people. One of the early things that happens when we are managing and leading people is we have to start answering for ourselves how we're going to handle the typical HR issues and people management issues that come up.
One of the biggest ones for entrepreneurs and one of the ones that can really mess with us is when people want time off. I know that sounds simple, right? Two weeks' vacation a year or we get paid time off, but when people want time off, it can feel completely and totally confronting for entrepreneurs. Now let's be real. Most entrepreneurs on the disc profile have some higher D, we're more driven individuals. Higher D entrepreneurs, the biggest fear we have is getting taken advantage of, and that's in any way. So when you're working with a high D high motivated type A personality, highly driven, push forward entrepreneur, you have to know their biggest fear is getting taken advantage of. I have an entire clientele that almost 100% of them, their biggest fear is getting taken advantage of so as a company we have to be really aware and cautious with how we talk to our clients, with how we share with our clients, with what we tell them, with the commitments we make, with how accurately we fulfill on the promises we make because their biggest fear is getting taken advantage of.
Well for you, if you're an entrepreneur who is at the place where you're building a team, you're probably very similar to me and my clients in that we all have a fear of getting taken advantage of. We all have that feeling that we don't to be taken advantage of and here's what happens. We go through the process of deciding we're gonna hire a team. We finally make the commitment that it's not just gonna be us, we're gonna bring in people, we're gonna bring in this team, we make the decision that we're gonna start paying people to do what we've been doing. We're gonna start having help, we're gonna start having people actually do part of what we do well and here's why it is such a massive challenge, because right when we start deciding we're going to start paying people, getting help, getting assistance in what we do, one of the first things that happens is somebody says, "Well, what about my time off? Are you gonna pay me to take time off?"
Now think about how really ridiculous that sounds to an entry-level entrepreneur. I know because a lot of times it still feels ridiculous to me, so what you're saying is, now that you ... I just decided that I want you to work for me and one of the first things that anybody wants to know is when do I get to take time off and how do I get to take time off. Here is a lesson that I've learned about this very subject with entrepreneurs and let me just preface this by saying that I think this is one of the people management areas and one of the team growth areas that as entrepreneurs, most of us absolutely 100% catastrophically screw up early in our careers. I'm gonna put myself in that category. This was a place where I was a train wreck up until not that long ago. Like I'm not gonna tell you I had this one figured out forever. It's in the last 10 years that I started realizing how crucial and how important it is to be gracious when people ask you for time off. Let me tell you how I came about this.
So first, as entrepreneurs, when somebody says I want time off, the first thing we feel like is we're getting taken advantage of. So our immediate response is to get irritated, frustrated, to have that physiological response of how can you want time off. This doesn't work for me, this isn't what I want to be happening. This is what I want to have happening. 10 years ago, somewhere around there, honestly I don't really know exactly how long but about 10 years ago, I remember I was sitting at my desk and the team that Cadey and I were managing at the time probably had somewhere around 40 or 50 people so maybe it was eight or nine years ago and I remember I had a stack of time off requests on my desk because we used to get them in the beginning of the month for the month that started a month from now so we always got them about 30 days in advance. I was looking at the stack of time off requests and I was just as irritated as I always had been and I was signing every one of them and I thought to myself, "Wait a second. I pretty much rubber-stamp 100% of these. Like I've never really denied time off unless there was a big project or something somebody didn't know about."
So I realized when I gave people time off, it was always begrudgingly. I mean, I even used to say things about it like, "Hey, enjoy your vacation. We won't miss you around here," and jokes and stuff because it was so confronting, so frustrating for me that people wanted time off. On that day, I realized I'm gonna give it to them anyway. They really are earning it by working here. The team members who have requested time off are crushing it for us. I should be a lot more gracious about this. I should be a lot more selfless about this. Like when somebody wants to take time off because they've been crushing it for us, when somebody needs a break from work because they've got something for their family or they have something they want to do, when somebody wants to go out and have an experience, like isn't that part of why my team is working with me? Isn't that part of what I want for them as human beings? It took a lot of introspection that day. I remember really thinking about this, getting up, going out for a walk and thinking, like I need to get past the place where I feel like every time my team asks for time off, they're trying to take advantage of me. I need to rewire this so that when my team asks for time off, I can graciously give it to them with encouragement.
So I remember on that day, I took the time off requests and instead of just handing them back to somebody to go pass them out to the people who gave them, I walked around and I handed it to them and I remember saying, "Hey, here you go," whoever it was, "Enjoy your time off. This looks like you're gonna have a lot of fun with your family," and, "Hey, I'm really glad you're taking this time off so you can see your kids play and I wanted you to know I approve this so you could have two mornings a week where you come in a half hour late but you get to do this activity with your kids. I remember walking around and doing that and I just decided from that point forward I'm just gonna be gracious about it. When somebody asks for time off, I'm going to willingly and happily give it to them because I'm only gonna hire true believers that I know it was as hard for them to ask this time off as it was for me to receive the request. Because true believers don't want to take time off, they don't want time away from the business. So from that point forward, I've been as gracious and as supportive of time off as I possibly can be.
I'll tell you, this is the most counterintuitive feeling when it comes to time off because you don't want to be gracious, you don't want to say it's okay, you don't want to encourage it, but here's what I can tell you has happened. The more gracious I've been, the more open about it I've been, the more I've encouraged time off with my team, there is a direct correlation to how little time off they take. I'm not kidding. I actually have to tell my team to take breaks. I have to ask them to go on vacation. I have to ask them to take time to themselves. When [Ayla 00:08:53] who works with us in Australia asks for some time in the morning so that she could go to swimming with her kids a couple of days a week, she wanted a half hour to race over to swimming, race back to her office, get into the office and get her work done and I said, "Ayla, don't take a half hour. Take an hour. Take the time that you need with your kids. Spend the time in swimming. Breathe, make it an event each week. Spend that time with them and then get your work done when you can."
Here's what happens in the psychology of a team member. Every time I do that, I know because I can watch it, they think to themselves, "I'm gonna really be responsible about this. I'm gonna make sure that I acknowledge this opportunity and do everything I can to live up to taking this time off," and the more gracious I am, the more responsibly I put on the team member, the more I say absolutely you can have this time off, I trust you, the more they show up in a way where that's exactly what I should have done. What I recognize now in retrospect because hindsight truly is 20/20. You don't see all the mistakes you're making in the present. In fact, you think you're doing great but in hindsight I can now go back through my career and I know that there were team members I had that didn't even like taking time off but because I was so frustrated with it, because I made such a big deal out of it, it became a contest to see if you could get all your time off.
I know that there's been times in my career where I managed people in such a way that they took time off to spite me because I was so challenging to work for, so hard to relate to, so difficult when they did ask for things. What I've recognized and realized is that if you hire world changing, world class true believer teams, the more gracious you are about time off, the less of an issue it becomes. The more you accept time off and support your team for taking it, the more they respect that time off and deliver even more for you when they come back. The more that you let people know that you not only respect they have a life, you want them to have a life, you want them to be good parents, good spouses, good people, that they need time to do that and you're willing to support them, the more they will kill for you when they are on and when they are working.
Here's the biggest. The biggest change that I saw was the more gracious I became about time off, the more discretionary time I got from my team. I just used the example of Ayla earlier. She's worked with us for a few months now but it feels like years, it really does. The level of strategy she's executing right now, the level of contribution she makes to our team, the amount that she's managing, the amount that she's leading, guiding and directing, I feel like she's been on our team for years and when I talk about discretionary time, that is the time in between. That's the time that people don't normally give to work. That's the time when they're driving or walking or in the shower or working out and they start thinking about the business because they're excited about it. I want you to just see the math here that I see. By removing any objections to time off and by being gracious by it, I reinforce my team members' feelings that it is okay to give discretionary time because they'll get it back.
By being gracious about who they are and the lives that they want to live and supporting that, I get their discretionary time back because it makes it safe to think about work, it makes it okay to think about work, it makes it so that they know that that will be rewarded if they think about work because they know that I care for them as much as they care for the company and when they come and they ask for time off, there's never an argument.
When it comes to Ayla, the results have been dramatic. She's worked with us a very short period of time and she's delivering at the level of a multiyear executive. Not only does she give us discretionary time, but she's one of those people that I actually have to say, "Ayla, go spend time with your kids. Go do what you need to do," because she's so dedicated and so committed to performing for us and if you want to talk about discretionary time within the first couple of weeks, Ayla was telling us about not only how she was thinking about the job all the time and thinking about what we were doing all the time and so excited about who we are and what we're doing and what we're gonna achieve, she started dreaming about it. So when you're starting to get people subconscious discretionary time, their [inaudible 00:13:20] discretionary time, you know you're getting in.
I know it has a lot to do with Ayla and who she is and how professional she is and how she feels about how she shows up in the world, but I also think it has a tremendous amount to do with the environment we've created, where my team is absolutely comfortable going all in because they know that if they go all in, we've got their back. If they go all in and they need time, they're gonna get it. If they go all in and they get overwhelmed, we'll help them. If they go all in and they need a day, they'll have it. If they go all in and they get overwhelmed, one of us will be there to help walk them back so my team isn't afraid of going into the deep end of the pool every single day and achieving the impossible.
So if you want your team to be the same way, if you want a team of business mercenaries that get up every single day and make things happen in a way that nobody else understands, be gracious when they come to you and ask for help. Be gracious when they come to you and ask for some time. Be gracious when they come to you and ask for some small assistance in having time back so that they can be the people that they want to be as you and your team grow the massive effect you want to have. Be gracious about time off and you will see your relationship with your team transform. If you're ready to start growing your business faster than you are today, if you're ready to start growing your team in a dynamic way where they support you from Day One and you start feeling better about what you're doing immediately, reach out to us. Go to billionairecode.com. Fill in a few questions and if you're interested, jump on a call with one of my team. Whether you are an entrepreneur that's in the three hundred thousand to a million range or the million dollar plus range, we have membership programs where we help entrepreneurs build teams fast, accomplish the impossible, crush their goals, and create world-changing empires. There is no reason why you can't to. Billionairecode.com.