During spring break, I established the basic policy that only three people could take leave on any given day that week. It all seemed perfectly logical until, on a slow day, someone pointed out we had more staff than students in the library. Now, this was not necessarily a problem; all breaks are a great time to get caught up on other work. Still it was obvious that if other people wanted to take some time off, the world was not going to fall apart.
For several years, I had one staff member who was seriously ill and another with some serious family issues. On any given day, the phone might ring early in the morning, and one or the other or both would tell me that she couldn’t make it in that day. I had learned to be cautious with how I approved annual leave, afraid that the library would not be staffed.
Although those folks have both been retired for years now, my decision-making process on leave time requests had become automatic. Basically, I was adding two people to each request. (So if you asked me for leave, my mental response was that three people might be out!)
Once I was gently reminded that the current staff is usually punctual and present, I relaxed my leave-making rules, making everyone, including myself, happier. But it was a good reminder to make sure that my decisions are based on current conditions and are not a holdover from an earlier time and place!