Once again we're faced with another year end. The time of year when the old cliché "more to do with less time to do it" actually is true. Add to our daily tasks year end evaluations and goal setting, budget reconciliation, next year's strategic planning, and year end reports - just to name a few - and the fact that our employees enter into "holiday break" the day before Thanksgiving.
We seem to operate with fewer employees working fewer hours and play catch up when the holidays are over. This year take some time to reflect on what can be done different to make the holidays less stressful and more productive than years past.
First things first. Plan for down time. Everyone has saved up their vacation time so they can relax and enjoy more time off with family and friends during the holidays. Just as well since experience has shown you that less work gets accomplished during the holiday season. What with the holiday luncheon, shopping on the lunch hour, discussion of the latest and greatest holiday gadgets, who has time to really work?
If you have the authority to approve vacation or requested time off consider this: If the holiday season is not your peak season, why limit the number of people that can take vacation? Encourage time off during your down time and encourage work during your peak time. If a skeleton crew can get the job done imagine the morale boost it will be for your employees to know they can take time off work without being made to feel guilty about it.
Use any down time wisely. If offices need cleaning, painting or rearranged, if new computers or software need installing, if there are any maintenance needs get it done while the office is at its emptiest!
Second, don't put important projects on hold just because team members are away. Be proactive. Before the rush of the holidays meet with the team members and add new team members, if necessary, to keep the project on schedule. Bring everyone up to date on the project and expectations. Keep in mind that new team members bring fresh ideas, a new perspective, and a renewed enthusiasm to the project.
And, finally, make it a priority to show your appreciation this holiday season to the team that supports you. In the rush of all your year end responsibilities remember the needs of your employees and take a few minutes to let them know how much they contribute and how important they are to you, to the organization, and to your customers.