Bernd Söllner at the headquarters of Mibelle in Buchs AG

Working in the Migros Group

The boss on sabbatical – no problem at Migros

Bernd Söllner, 53, from Lörrach (DE) and department head at Mibelle, took a few weeks off. We discover why the boss did this and how his team reacted.

Barbara Scherer

As head of research and development and quality assurance, you have quite a lot of responsibility, yet you still allowed yourself a break of several weeks?

«Yes, I manage around 155 people at four locations in Europe. Nevertheless, I was able to be away for seven weeks. I just went to the office once briefly after two weeks to check with my deputy and the leadership team. For me, it was also a kind of test to see how far along the team was and whether the work processes would work without me. It worked – I left my computer at home and was only contacted three times by my deputy for minor questions.»

How did your team react to your absence?

«At first, some employees were a bit surprised. But then everyone supported me and assured me that they could run the place without me. That’s also the goal of any good leader: to make themselves redundant so that they can move on to new tasks.»

And were you able to really switch off during your sabbatical?

«Absolutely. I used the time to visit family, go on camping trips and do some renovations around the house. I also helped in a crossing of the Alps with horses with my life partner. So I not only had a rest, but also experienced something totally new. This has given me new perspectives that I can use on the job.»

Are your employees now also allowed to take a sabbatical?

«If it’s possible somehow and everyone doesn’t want to go at the same time, of course! I can recommend a longer break to anyone and everyone. One should definitely tackle new challenges in that time. It gives you a bit of distance from the job and you can gain new impressions, recharge your batteries and gain experience – which then helps you later on the job.»

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