Sunday, August 26, 2007

Skeleton crews and coping with the holiday season

At this time of year as a manager of a team you have one major headache

Holidays - or as lawyers prefer to call it - annual leave

Now personally speaking I have two breaks every year one at Christmas for 10 days and one in early summer for two weeks. I dont as a rule take time during the year save for an odd day here and there. My reasons for taking such limited time off is simply that it is expected of me.

Ive had this routine for a while now and so have become accustomed to it. You cant complain if you reap other rewards generally and if the top brass dont holiday much - neither do the next tier down.

Now this little unwritten sub clause is not one that the junior staff need to adhere to. Its the one thing I envy them for. Leave will be used up at every opportunity

Right now were deep in the doo doo with barely 50% staff - despite this being a planned exercise its bloody difficult to keep everything ticking over.

You can guarantee the following during this difficult period:

- there will be a client complaint about service on an absentees file
- there will be a CMC on an absentee's file that lands annoyingly on the worst possible day
- the brass will ask awkward questions about an absentee's file you know there are problems with
- somewhat unhelpfully, other departments will offer little assistance and may relish the opportunity to give you a slap
- Morale for those left behind will be very low indeed.

How do you deal with this?

Simple - you get your skeleton crew pissed every Friday evening for the duration of the holiday slog. Young lawyers will always be happily rewarded with free beer and cheap curry.

Its a fact - Im telling you


Nearly Legal said...

Hang on - 2 weeks in the summer and 10 days at Christmas. At a generous reckoning, that's about 15 days leave, plus 'an odd day here and there', so let us say 20 days more or less. And your juniors are apparently taking much more than you? Either you have a very liberal leave entitlement for juniors at your place or I'm working for the wrong firm...

legalspy said...

I resent the insuinuation that I take 20 days leave a year. Thats almost an insult. 19 days I can live with.

In fairness we are rather generous with leave entitlement.

That said, junior staff can disappear without worrying too much about what they leave behind and they certainly dont touch base whilst theyre away. Nor would I expect them to.

On the other hand leave for a senior member of staff is akin to working from home - you cant escape the grind for very long.

Now please dont take this as a bleat about my situation or my poor wee juniors.

My post is more about how certain things will (nearly) always happen in a department when the crew is depleted and that it can be tough for those staff left behind

Nearly Legal said...

Having just reached the end of my department's holiday rush season, I know exactly what you mean.

I try to always make sure that my files are completely in order before going on leave, after having to do some urgent rescue work on people's cases while they have been away.