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Send your questions and concerns to Dr. Marie McIntyre. Marie has more than 20 years experience in coaching, human resources, and management.  She writes the syndicated column “Your Office Coach”, which appears in more than 70 newspapers nationwide. Marie has authored two books and serves as a workplace expert for the National Institute of Business Management.  (Due to high volume, not all questions can be answered, but Marie will respond to as many as possible. Your question may be reprinted online or in the newspaper column unless you request otherwise.)

Coaching Q&A

How do you keep a manager from interrupting vacation plans?

Whenever my daughter “Alicia” tries to take time off, her manager interferes.  Alicia has a responsible position in which she coordinates a variety of projects.  She earns several weeks of vacation every year, but has difficulty using them.

If Alicia tries to plan a trip, her manager often asks her to cancel, sometimes at a moment’s notice.  When she does get away, she still gets phone calls about problems with various projects.  None of these matters are truly urgent.

I believe that management should try to work around Alicia’s vacation plans, but her boss clearly doesn’t feel this way.  How can my daughter take some needed time off without fear of a last-minute cancellation or repeated interruptions?

Marie’s Answer

Without more information, it’s hard to assess this situation.  Alicia’s boss might be an anxiety-ridden procrastinator who is using your daughter as a security blanket.  On the other hand, Alicia may simply have unique skills that are in high demand.

Regardless of the circumstances, however, your hard-working daughter definitely deserves a vacation.  One possible solution is to book a trip requiring an advance deposit.  That way, Alicia can reasonably request a commitment from her boss before finalizing the arrangements.

For example: “I’m planning a vacation that involves a non-refundable deposit.  Since I won’t be able to change the date, I wanted to talk with you before I guarantee the reservations.  Is there any problem with my being gone the second week in July?”  Then, if she receives a last-minute cancellation request, Alicia can remind her manager about this conversation.

Phone calls are a different matter, since vacationing employees are often expected to be available for emergencies.  As an outsider, you can’t possibly know whether these matters are “truly urgent”.  But if the interruptions are too frequent or intrusive, Alicia should just forward the calls to voice mail and return them at her convenience.

Even if your daughter now has less time to spend with you, there’s clearly an upside to this situation.  Being viewed as indispensable and conscientious will only enhance Alicia’s job security and future career prospects.

NOTE: Questions on this page have been edited for length, grammar, and confidentiality.  All material on this website is copyrighted to Marie G. McIntyre.  All rights reserved.

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    Marie G. McIntyre, Ph.D.

    Marie McIntyre has more than twenty years’ experience in career coaching and organizational development. She has held management positions in both business and government, including Director of Human Resources in a Fortune 500 company.

    Marie writes the weekly syndicated advice column, “Your Office Coach”, which appears in newspapers throughout the U.S. & Canada.  She also writes a monthly Career Commentary for and serves as a workplace expert for Business Management Daily.  Marie conducts webinars on a variety of topics related to leadership development and career success.

    As a consultant, Marie has assisted a wide variety of organizations, including Cisco, The Home Depot, Tyson Foods, the Federal Reserve, AT&T, Walgreens, Macy’s, and Habitat for Humanity. She has experience in working with business, government, and non-profit groups.

    Marie is the author of two books, “Secrets to Winning at Office Politics” &“The Management Team Handbook”.  She is frequently quoted in business publications, including Fortune, Forbes, the New York Times, and the Wall Street Journal.