What excuse would you use?

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FauxLiz

Sponsor
My T and P-doc and I are considering a readmission to RO this fall which would mean using three weeks of my vacation time. I don't have STD that would cover my time off from work so that is why I will have to use vacation time. I am trying to develop a plausible reason to tell my board, my direct reports and the other employees as to why I would be unplugged (reality inpatient without access to email and cellphones) Has anyone here taken time off from work stated as vacation but was actually inpatient admission in a trauma program. I can't risk anyone discovering where I would really be as it would have substantial impact on my job. I have been sort of laying the foundation talking about a three week digital detox retreat with no computers, phones locked up and activities like meditation and yoga etc.
 

Justmehere

Moderator
What I actually used when I was inpatient and out of touch for a few weeks: “dealing with a personal matter that needs my full attention.” Sometimes I said it was a personal family matter (and it kind of was...). Then I would follow it up with something like, “You’ll do great while I’m gone! Let me know what you need before I go.” Or I follow it up with a question about them.

Turning the conversation quickly back to them and the great job they will do or anything else about them shuts down further questions pretty well. People like talking about themselves most of all.

It is a vacation and it isn’t one you have to explain other than you need time off, totally off. That’s enough to explain.
 

Rumors

MyPTSD Pro
Wellness retreat in a remote location where electronics are restricted. No internet, no tv, no phone service. You will be using that time to better yourself as a leader mentally, physically, and emotionally. I would buy it if you told me that... good luck!
 

scout86

MyPTSD Pro
Do you actually have to tell them anything? It's YOUR vacation after all. Do jobs really have the right to have access to us 24/7/365? I know they THINK they do, but REALLY? Seems like it should be enough to say you'll be out of town and off the grid. The less said the better. If you have to say something more specific, something like what @Justmehere seems like it would inspire less curiosity.
 

joeylittle

Administrator
I am trying to develop a plausible reason to tell my board, my direct reports and the other employees as to why I would be unplugged (reality inpatient without access to email and cellphones)
I just go with "I won't be checking messages; if you need assistance before [return date], contact [person who can deal with your problem]."
 

Mach123

MyPTSD Pro
I'd say I have to go help a relative/friend, then tell them all about where your going and what you'll be doing (that way it's easy to keep your story straight, you'll be telling the truth) and say, I have to stay with her (kids or cats or elderly mom) while she does this, and she lives in Montana up near the Canadian border, or somewhere crazy like that.

My therapist always goes off grid and says she has no access to cell phones or emails.
 

FauxLiz

Sponsor
I appreciate everyone's advice but it is not as simple as I am going to help a friend/relative or contact X if you have any questions. There is no one in the office that can act as my sub, I don't have anyone above me other than the board.
 

Mach123

MyPTSD Pro
Yes, I see that in your post. IDK? I have never been in and possibly never known anyone with that kind of position.

But I hope you do it and it's great and nobody ever knows. : )
 

Justmehere

Moderator
There is no one in the office that can act as my sub, I don't have anyone above me other than the board.
Is the issue that you don’t know what to explain to people... or rather that an appropriate back up plan for handling issues while you are gone isn’t in place? Those are two different things.

I understand that only the board is above you. Unless your job duties absolutely require contact on vacation, then you don’t have anything to explain about why you are gone. It’s vacation. I get that your staff wants you to be accessible while on vacation, and maybe even you are struggling with letting go enough to not be in contact during the vacation. If your job requires contact while on vacation and you need to justify that to HR or the board, then I’d consider getting a doctor’s letter to verify that you have “a health matter” to address that requires not being responsible for job duties while on vacation for the very select few people that need to know and approve it as an ADA covered change in the policy regarding required contact on vacation. Then figure out the best possible plan for handling all matters while you are gone.

But if this is more of a matter that you feel pressure or indirect responsibility to explain because others are going to be taking on tasks that they are not used to talking on, or delaying things until you get back because there isn’t a sub filling your shoes and etc, or you otherwise feel pressure to justify/explain the vacation, that’s not really going to be resolved by going into details about why you are gone or making up an excuse. It’s not really everyone’s business why you are gone.

I have a business mentor who is retired but was in a very high position with many who depended on him. He also didn’t have a boss except his board and regulatory offices. We have talked a lot about how to explain the absences I have to the from work at times. He has talked a lot about how he and staffers would explain absences - sometimes even 6 month long absences - very briefly and vaguely. Ninety nine percent of the time, they wouldn’t explain why even the CEO was gone to anyone but maybe 1 trusted friend in the company. One top staffer was even getting cancer care and wasn’t likely to live (but did), another doing a rehab for an addiction, etc.

This stuff happens a lot more than most people think it does. People have stuff they have to deal with that requires time off and not being reachable. It happens.

None of them bothered with explaining to all their staff and certainly not the board why they were gone. Any explanation would have been debated, gossiped, and not helpful to staff. It might make the person who is gone feel better for a brief time, but it actually didn’t help anyone else. The staff only knew they were in a sabbatical or a vacation and not reachable until they returned. The end.

This is an extreme example, with details changed to keep the situation private. But something much like this happened: One time, a key top level staffer in his organization was on a month long sabbatical (which was actually 30 days in rehab for a drug addiction) when someone on staff was kidnapped and decisions had to be made that normally were made by that one person. The state dept was involved and everything. All the staff knew was that the key staffer could not be reached. Knowing more about why that person couldn’t be reached didn’t help them deal with the absence.

Same for more common situations like the copy machine breaks down... knowing why you can’t be reached to handle it doesn’t help then handle it.

I strongly suggest focus more on giving your staff the tools to cover things for a few weeks until you are gone than explaining why you are gone. It will help them more to be vague about the reasons for the absence... but be specific about how to handle things while gone.

If you want to get into why you are gone because of the depth of the relationships you have built, then I would pick one person to tell more details, but pick someone you would trust to keep it confidential. If that person doesn’t exist in the workplace, then just don’t go there. Focus on why people are asking more about why you will be gone: 1.) they care about you and want to know you better (and you can talk about other things) 2.) they are nervous about doing their job while you are gone. As s leader in the organization, focus especially on number 2 and the vacation as a whole will go over better than if you give extensive excuses for it.
 
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Camping? Out of the country with no international data plan?

I always find that less is more with excuses. Nothing worse than accidentally getting "caught" in a lie when you forgot one of the details that you gave .... plus you don't want to tell people that you are going someplace awesome, and then have zero photos to share on your return.

Just a thought - people get medical treatment all the time that they have to take time off of work from. Leg injuries, foot injuries, planned shoulder surgery, lots of stuff. Could you pretend like its an innocuous medical condition? That way you are being honest in a way but not all the way. You could also say that you are planning to be off of all media afterwards so that you can recover fully.
 

joeylittle

Administrator
There is no one in the office that can act as my sub, I don't have anyone above me other than the board.
I've been in this position.

Arranging things so you can be out of contact is annoying, sometimes - but it's always doable. Part of what you'll need to do is start making sure that you 'clear the decks' as much as is possible. Looking at the dates you're going to be gone, and working backwards from there, figure out how the workflow can slow to a crawl.

I do understand how you'll be facing the question "where are you going?" a lot, while doing that level of planning. If you want to have an easy lie, try and go with some locale you've got at least a bit of familiarity with. There are plenty of places left in the US that don't have good cell or internet coverage. I'd avoid anything too complicated, like saying you're doing a retreat or anything organized like that.

But - since you are claiming it as vacation, so long as your contract allows you to take vacation - you don't really need to justify or explain away your inability to check-in remotely. I do understand how this is difficult, psychologically. A big part of it is you being OK with walking away from the job for a chunk of time.

Is your concern mostly about how the office keeps going in your absence?
 
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