Jen from admin did that thing she always does at the work do, there’s tinsel everywhere, and you can hear Slade without it making you furious. Yep, after months of huffing every time you saw a Santa hat, a polar bear drinking coke or an old man sitting on the moon (“but it’s not even October yet!”), Christmas has well and truly arrived. It’s the last few days of work, and you’re trying to keep your teams (and yourself) focused while everyone’s thoughts are turning to long days sprawled on the sofa, terrible TV and that bottle of Lagavulin from the in-laws.
It’s no small task, leading your teams through the festive period. There’s a temptation to push and push your managers to hit the quarter’s number, then step off from mid-December, letting the month fade into a jumble of Christmas parties, Christmas jumpers and Christmas drinks. It’s tempting, but it’s not that helpful, since the most important thing to remember at this time of year is that…
After Christmas comes next year.
Sounds obvious, doesn’t it? But it’s a very human flaw to not be able to see past the next significant event in our lives. I remember that more than once as a kid an exam fell just after my birthday or a gig. The exam was never even thought about until the major event that fell first was out of the way.
But December is 1/12—over 8%—of the year. What’s 8% of your organisation’s annual turnover? Can you afford to step off the gas and write that off? Can you afford the ramp up time as people get back to speed in January because they didn’t spend any time in December prepping for the New Year?
I’m guessing not.
So, Christmas is great. Christmas is necessary. Christmas is the rest, revitalisation and reward that your managers and their teams have earned. But, the fact that people write off the build up to it and fail to see past it, can present a real problem.
December should be a month of planning. A month of preparation. A month of strategic review for you, performance review for your team managers and account review for their reps. It should be a month of meetings, of looking forward, of earning that Christmas break. It should be a month of review, of amending your processes as necessary, and of ensuring that you’re in the best possible shape to hit the ground running when you come back in January.
It should be a month of looking at the big picture, of addressing whether there is a more efficient, more productive way of working and of communicating, both with clients and with your teams. There is, of course, and that’s something we should talk about in 2016—drop me a line and I’ll get it penciled in.
I’m not saying don’t enjoy your Christmas break—in fact, I’m saying the opposite. The main thing is to ensure that you, your managers and their teams aren’t letting the build up or the come down eat into valuable work time. Use December properly. Enjoy your Mrs Brown’s Boys reruns, unplanned family visits and mince pies, but remember that next quarter is on its way in just a few days.
Last year when we talked about Christmas I coined a new phrase which I think is useful again here: “Eyes on the prize, with a break for mince pies”.
Have a great Christmas, let’s talk more in the new year.