When any holiday season approaches, as a business owner, you may start to feel the rising stress that comes with it. Too often employees go on holiday and that leaves you running around making sure that systems that they are in charge of continue ticking along.
So how do you stop things falling through the cracks?
This was a problem that was brought up in one of our group consulting calls. One of my clients said he felt like he was the captain of a ship. During holidays, it felt like a few of them had gone on shore leave, and he was left trying to steer the wheel while tightening the rigging and avoiding the swinging boom all at once.
How do we man the decks while our crew is on break? Here are a few tips we came up with.
1. Use Your Telescope: See the Hard Work Coming
The first tip is a bit obvious but one that bears saying. Sometimes you can’t help it – if your admin person goes on holiday then, whether you like it or not, a bit of extra hard work is needed. You need to forecast it and be prepared for when the workload is going to ramp up so that you aren’t surprised by the crunch period.
2. Gather The Crew: Have Team Meeting Before Holidays
While you should be doing regular team meetings anyway (appropriate to the size of your business), you may want to schedule a full gathering of your employees so everyone is on the same page just before the holiday season. Everyone should know who is going on holiday, when they are going, and what tasks will need to be done during that break.
3. Spread Across the Decks: Disperse The Work Amongst Your Team
When the stormy weather hits, you shouldn’t be the only one running around the boat to ensure it stays afloat.
Instill a culture of ‘picking up the slack’. That is, if someone isn’t there, then it should be perfectly normal in your business for your other superstars to help out with the jobs that need doing, even if it’s not specifically in their job description.
A temporary increase in workload across all of your team members is more manageable than one person trying to take on the load entirely.
4. Avoid Empty Cabins: Ensure Your Team’s Leave is Staggered
Make sure that you have some sort of system in place – even a simple spreadsheet detailing out when people are taking leave – so it is abundantly clear who is going on holiday and when.
You can then make sure there isn’t an exodus of people all at the same time when you moor up for the holidays. Then you won’t ever be left alone to tighten the rigging, lower the sail, wash the decks, and keep an eye out for pirates!
5. Take Advantage of Quiet Seas: Relax When Your Clients Are Off Too
When your clients are most likely to be taking a break is when you should also be taking your holiday. Your resources – which includes you as the leader – should be at their lowest at times when your business is typically less frenetic. Then you can ensure your crew is at optimum capacity when the stormy seas hit.
This is what we do in our business – I consciously take my breaks during the months of the year when we know most of our clients are also on holidays. It helps knowing that we have a team who will take care of things while we are away. In fact, the last holiday we took, we came back to find our clients were even happier than when we left!
In the end, this isn’t rocket science – it’s not even as hard as sailing! As a leader, you need to just plan ahead, bring your team together, share the load out amongst them, manage your resources carefully and ensure that even you relax during calm seas so that you’re prepared to face even the wildest of storms.
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