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Preparing for the Holidays

Last week I talked a lot about preparing for year-end and this week the theme continues - specifically focusing on the holidays. This is important to do every year, this year more than ever.

The issues around the holidays usually occur in two areas: coverage for time off and time to work on projects. Face facts, unless you are a retail or hospitality business, productivity slows down during the last parts of November through the end of December. As great as the holidays are (I love Christmas), it gets stressful and the number of things people want to get done goes up dramatically.

Here are some key steps to take to prepare for year end.

  1. Start to discuss it in your team meeting. Explain that as the holidays approach, things get crazy, so now is a good time to start to think about things. Either dedicate the entire team meeting to working through these issues or schedule a specific meeting to discuss.

  2. Acknowledge that with COVID, things will be different and more difficult this year. Everyone is going to have to be more patient, flexible, and understanding as we all figure things out.

  3. Discuss coverage needs. If you always need someone working, how will you decide who gets time off and who doesn't. Make sure people make their time off requests as early as possible so you can plan. This is an area where you will have to be equal, but not fair. Have a clear reason for your decisions and explain them fully.

  4. Discuss project statuses. Remind people that we will lose work days to holidays, so they need to be mindful with deadlines. If there are going to be issues, bring them up early!

  5. Tell them to discuss deadlines with their project teams. Don't assume that people you are dependent on will tell you their holiday schedule - ask!

  6. Emphasize you want them to use their time off, and really be off. The holidays and relaxing (as much as you can with all the running around) is important. More important than most work projects. If someone has time off to be with their family, be with the family - not checking email and making calls. DISCONNECT.

You'll have to repeat and follow up on these discussions throughout the holiday season, but start early.

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