Holacracy Community of Practice Archive, 2015-2019 Community Holacracy Web Site

Vacation policies: what process to use for transferring roles when you're going on vacation?

Hi there! I was wondering what policies other organisations have in place to deal with Holiday take overs.

We currently have a policy that indicates the following:

> Role holders are still accountable when they are sick or on holidays by finding a suitable temporary replacement within their own circle, or dropping the role so the Lead Link can do that.

So at our organisation you yourself are accountable for finding someone to take over your roles when you go on holiday and we document this in a holiday project. But in my understanding a Lead Link is accountable for allocating resources & assigning roles. IMO a role holder should not have the decision making authority to transfer their role to someone else, this should be up to the LL. Right?

We now have one colleague on maternity leave for 5 months and another on a long vacation for 3 months. Their roles now don't have a "real" assignee, so as I am taking over a few of their roles, I'm wondering if I am 'allowed' to represent this role in governance meetings, and to process tensions or to start projects on behalf of this role.

I can't really find anything in the constitution about temporary take-overs and I also find it a bit much to ask people to drop all their roles when they're going on a holiday. So I'm now considering to propose something like the following in governance:

> In case of holidays/ vacation/ leave of absence, role holders will try to find suitable temporary replacement and suggest them to Lead Link. Lead Link will decide to temporarily take over and/ or (re-)assign role(s) of vacationer by creating a multiple assignee with focus: holiday take-over. Role-holder will transfer work to temporary take-over assignee.

But I wonder if I'm overthinking it and making it too complex while there might be a simpler solution.

How do you handle holidays/ leaves of absence?

2 Replies
Tom Mulder

[@mention:549059653898032589]. According to art 2.2.3. you may remove any Accountability or function from the LL role by defining an alternate mean of enacting them.

The Policy that you state looks for me as a good way how you have delegated this LL responsibility to the Roles in the Circle.

Hope this helps.

Cheers, Tom


To your last question about are you overthinking this; perhaps, but I'm probably going to over answer it so who am I to say.

We address this question in our organization by leveraging Section 4.3, the authority role fillers have in energizing their roles, and the responsibility each circle member has in achieving the circle purpose.

Essentially, the approach we take is that part of energizing a role is that the role fillers look for ways to cover the work of their roles in their absence. This usually involves identifying the key roles that need coverage and reaching out to circle members for help. Everyone takes vacations so everyone has this need from time to time and the everyone values achieving the circle purpose. It's also been the case that it's usually just a subset of roles that really need the coverage.

The role filler then communicates via Tactical or usually via email that "John will filling in for me as <role x> and Mary for <role y> while I'm gone." Those individuals are fully empowered to take individual actions in those roles per Section 4.3. For roles where assigning a backup was missed, Section 4.3 still applies.

For longer term absences like maternity leave I, as Lead Link, will usually assign the person that was identified to the role and then change it back later. It also usually ends up being a little bigger discussion because the commitment is longer. It may involve some of us taking turns during the absence. Whatever solves the issue with the least amount of effort.

We don't have a policy. For one, it feels a little heavy handed and restrictive. Secondly, our nimble and collaborative approach to this issue better reinforces our organizational values and has resolved the tensions to date.