How to Plan and Manage Your Team`s Vacations

Project managers are constantly striving for building effective teams and enabling people to perform at their best. But we should not forget that we work with human beings who get tired and need some break. In fact, everyone needs a rest, and the most prevalent form of having it among full-time employees is regular vacation. If you notice that someone from your team hasn’t taken vacation for a long period of time, I suggest you talking to them and persuading that they need a break. Otherwise, people may burn out and it results in low performance, demotivation and even sickness.

But there is also another side of the coin. When someone from your team goes to vacation this affects your team capacity. This impact can be really severe if a few of employees who work on a small-sized project take vacation simultaneously. In fact, your project may get into serious trouble due to chaotic leaves. In order not to lose track of your project, you should plan your team members leaves in advance and manage their vacation calendar carefully.

How to plan and manage your team’s vacations

Here are some tips on how to plan your team vacations correctly, so that not to compromise your project success:

1. Set up some ground rules for vacation planning.

These rules must be accepted by your team members and well-known for all of them. If you have no such rules, it makes sense to establish them on a separate team meeting. On this meeting you may explain the necessity of each rule and discuss or even vote for each of them. The most important rules that you should set with your team may be the following:

  • employees from one and the same department are not allowed to take vacations at the same time
  • those who first book their vacation in the calendar have the priority in vacation approval
  • everyone, who plans a vacation, must inform the management and colleagues in advance at least two weeks before the start of vacation;
  • everyone who leaves for vacation must set up an out of office notification in their emails indicating the dates of vacation and those who substitute them during their leave

You may definitely expand this list of ground rules based on the needs of your organization.

2. Have a preliminar team vacation planning at the beginning of the new calendar year or at the end of the preceding year.

In fact, there are not so many people who know for sure what they will do in six months or later. Despite this, you should have a team meeting in order to refresh the ground rules and discuss preliminary plans of each team member.

3. Pay extra attention to official holidays throughout the year.

There are some holidays in the year which are official days off. These days may be close to weekends and also there may be a couple of days off in a row. In such cases a lot of people like to take extra days off in order to get a longer holiday. You as a project manager should be aware of these dates and plan your team leaves in advance.

4. Track team`s vacations in a vacation calendar.

You may use Excel or any specific software for this purpose. The only requirement for this software or template is that it gives you good visualization of team vacations plan, so that you could see on one screen the list of the whole team and the calendar of their vacations at least for the near quarter.

Team Vacation Templates

I have picked up a couple of good team vacation planner templates in Excel that you may use in your work.

1. Here you may download for free a great vacation planning template that allows you to track 10 different leave types throughout the year – vacations, maternity/paternity leaves, sick leaves, leaves in lieu of overtime, and half days, etc. Template is available both for Excel and Google Spreadsheet. Moreover, I believe that you can easily customize it for your personal needs.

2. And here you may download a simpler template that I personally use. You may add your own legend to the spreadsheet indicating different types of days off available.

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