Tips to make sure you meet deadlines during the holiday season
Everyone in a managerial position knows that feeling: deadlines to be met and errant staff.
How do you meet client expectations when the air is filled with the excitement of looming holidays and phones are being continuously used in coordinating such matters (while at work). How do you rope in the attention of normally attentive people who have mentally decided eleven months of the year have been enough??? Family expectations, extended family commitments and our own yearning for a complete break are enough distractions to drive good workers to a state of partial mental inactivity during this time, thus affecting deadlines.
Are there ways and means of appeasing the client and the employee at the same time during the holiday season? Are there tried and tested, sure-fire methods that we could use with success? Here are six of them. Certainly the outcome would depend on how systematically they are applied. Here we go again – more rules, nevertheless, they are bound to release one’s self and one’s employees from the shackles of the continuous grind – at least for the holiday season!
The first basic rule that applies to the whole year applies to the holiday season as well – far-sighted vision in scheduling your work priorities and deadlines. In this case, it would easily be at least two months before where clients are clearly articulated of the cut-off date after which the chances of delays are bound to occur. This would apply to businesses that have high operational activity during the holiday season as well, unless of course you are in the express delivery service. Clearly articulating to clients as well as employees and agreeing on reasonable deadlines is bound to result in smooth work operation and completion of larger deadlines closer to, but not upon the holiday season.
Never over-schedule business in anticipation that workers would be duty bound to stay on in spite of prior holiday commitments. Bearing in mind that there is only so much a person could do, unless with the concurrence of the employee and handsome incentives, it is best to give timely reminders to clients and avoid last minute customer requests for the health and goodwill of your employees as well as to indicate your organization’s reliability and efficiency. Here again, tip #1 comes into play. We have heard of employers who subtly dangle carrots in front of their employees at such times yet those “hints” are most often forgotten once the hype of work and holiday is over. Such organizations may never grow.
It’s a competitive environment out there with businesses trying to close as many sales as possible during the season, so some internal planning with employees who could actually forfeit some of their holiday time is needed to identify and broach the idea to the selected employees for last moment assignments that cannot be turned down. Almost nothing is non-negotiable. There are bound to be a skeleton staff who could accommodate a few days into the holiday season if the necessity arises, especially if it could be availed of when the rest of the employees have returned.
What is a deadline anyway? An estimated date by which the assignment should reach its completion. Many reasons exist for missing a deadline, leading to stress, short tempers and possible poorer quality. Hard deadlines are nightmares for managers, e.g. those dealing with public events. It’s the manager’s role to ensure that everyone involved in the project understands the big picture and their part and are given a realistic time frame in which to complete and hand over to the next team. Most managers forget to give their team the big picture which brings out “our” factor and a better sense of responsibility on the part of each team member. This means open discussion on the goal and clearly articulated time lines at the beginning bearing in mind unexpected complications, technical issues and the fact that other priorities might disrupt the schedule.
Leave room for the unexpected bearing in mind that projects need people who work with each other in teams. Having mini deadline sessions leading to the great deadline act as a checklist on how well the project is faring up to that point where issues could be spotted and be addressed on time. Notice how well we all work when there is a time limit attached to any job proving the point that time expands or contracts according to our own will and that we do have control over time.
The best thing about completing assignments on time is the number of excellent time and project management systems in the market that have proven their reliability. For example BQu’s Project Portfolio Management helps organisations achieve their overall business strategy through a series of processes that monitor, assess and provide instant information across the board to the whole team. These programs offer a holistic view of where each segment of the projects stands and guides at to where and how resources could be allocated in order to add more value to the assignment.
This is the time when everyone on the team will be patting their backs in satisfaction and leaving for a well deserved holiday.
Created : December 15th, 2015