How, or even whether, finance executives “unplug” while on vacation has been a hot topic this summer. 

In June, CFO.com reported survey results from Robert Half Management Resources

More than two-thirds, 69%, said they typically check in with work at least once or twice a week during their summer vacations, only a slight dip from the 74% tallied five years ago. Thirty-three percent of those surveyed check in at least once a day and sometimes more. Only about a quarter said they don't check in at all.

With only 26% of CFOs reporting that they unplug totally on vacations, Accounting SmartPros listed five tips to help finance executives plan their unplugged getaways.

Interestingly, a tweet from one of my followers in mid-summer said this …

My wife and I, on vacation, kids asleep, sitting on the couch, & what are we doing? Checking our Twitter feeds on our phones!

Although they weren’t “working,” they weren’t unplugged either. It describes our new culture of constant connectedness which is somewhat anti-socially social. 

Our poll at SmartBrief for CFOs last week asked about being unplugged during vacations. It apparently struck a nerve with that audience, eliciting a very high number of responses. While the numbers were quite similar to the RHMR survey, I found the 25% who said they were really just working in a vacation environment very telling.

That response may speak to a bigger story … and that is succession planning. The most brilliant of leaders are always grooming their successor (and I by no means am implying anything here). While this doesn’t preclude a CFO from having to handle a major issue while on vacation, it might allow him to feel confident that short of a “true emergency,” he, his company, and his career are all on solid footing while he’s incommunicado. And that security and freedom to totally get away can be a much needed refresh and recharge for finance leaders today.

The truth is that ensuring you have a well-groomed successor, rather than being a threat to your position, actually frees you to make the next move in your career, adds to your leadership skill set, and looks great on your resume. 

With Labor Day and the end of summer right around the corner, what can you put into place today that will allow you to have a fully, unplugged mental health holiday on your next vacation?

Mentoring … Succession Planning

An article in CFO.com calls it grandparenting … “To Keep Key Staff, Act Like a Grandparent.”

“… for corporate finance departments — currently besieged by the twin demographic demons of looming baby-boomer retirements and a relative paucity of younger people to step in as replacements — retaining the talent they do have should be of the highest priority..”

Whatever you call it, mentoring future executives is a win for everyone … succession planning looks good on your resume (a skill that is in high demand), helps groom future leadership, and strengthens companies.

Who have you nurtured today?

Succession Planning

In a recent survey conducted among 1400 CFOs nationally by Robert Half Management Resources, “most” said they have not identified their successor. The primary reason given was they had no plans to leave their current position. Unfortunately, even the best–laid plans go astray.

Paul McDonald, executive director of Robert Half Management Resources says, "Executives should plan for all contingencies, even if they have every intention of staying in their current role. Change – planned or otherwise – is a fact of life and companies that are prepared are better equipped to maintain productivity during times of transition." 

And I agree. Current statistics indicate that a CFO will leave a position every 18 months to five years, with three years being the average. Planning your next move puts you in the driver’s seat. You can either act, or be acted upon.

Grooming your replacement is good for the company, but it is also a huge feather in your cap. Since 74% of your competition indicates they are not planning to leave and have not made provisions for leaving, succession planning is a huge market differentiator and one that is valuable to your next employer.