Like it or loathe it, the run-up to the Christmas holiday period is always busy, personally and professionally. The holiday season falls at the end of one of the busiest times of the business year with lots of companies delivering projects or striving to meet deadlines before the end of the year. Added to that, business owners and employees have many more personal obligations to fulfil than usual – with children’s Christmas plays, concerts, shopping, social engagements and time-off suddenly filling the calendar. With so much going on in everyone’s lives during December, it’s easy to lose focus (and staff hours) at work – so how do you keep your projects running smoothly and make your business resilient to cope with the stresses of this frantic time?
Preparation, preparation, preparation.
1. Plan time-off in advance
Being organised is key for successfully negotiating December. If you haven’t already, check in with your employees to make sure all time-off (including your own) has been coordinated within the team and booked in. Review your project deliverables and deadlines with this in mind so that you can distribute work accordingly, or organise cover if necessary.
2. Allow contingency
Even with time-off allocated, things can slip in the holiday season. With lots of social occasions to attend, people can start to relax and wind-down before they officially have time–off and there could be unexpected absences. People need personal time to get things done. Approve requests where you can to keep staff motivated and improve productivity but bear this in mind and allow contingency in your December project schedules.
3. Maintain good communication and get regular status reports to ensure focus
When there are lots of distractions, it’s crucial to maintain project momentum and even more important than usual to keep good lines of communication open. Organise regular status reports with team members to ensure that everyone is maintaining the same level of focus.
4. Agree pre-holiday tasks If your office is due to be closed over the whole holiday period, make sure everyone is aware and agreed upon what tasks need to be completed beforehand. Identify any foreseeable problems that might arise while the office is short-staffed or you are away and put in procedures to deal with them. Advise your teams of the circumstances you can be contacted for an emergency call or text.
5. Schedule post-holiday project tasks As tempting as it might be to drop everything and relax once you have fulfilled your pre-holiday deadlines, make sure you plan your schedules ahead for the return to work in January. A complete change of pace and scene over the holiday period makes it difficult to reorientate in the New Year. Make it easier for yourself and your employees by scheduling tasks in advance of the holiday.
6. Keep your clients updated
Even if it’s not due, send a project progress report to clients before the holiday. Knowing exactly what’s going on before and after the holiday period will give them confidence in you and peace of mind.
7. Make sure you have holiday cover where necessary
If you don’t want to overload other team members during the holiday period, hire temporary cover. If you have ongoing projects that need to be completed, bring in a contract Project Manager. They are used to on-boarding quickly, will conduct a thorough hand over and hand back of work, and will keep your projects ticking along smoothly.
8. Have fun!
Last but by no means least – although it is important to maintain focus and achieve your project deliverables, make sure you and your employees enjoy the holiday period. Create a festive atmosphere – have a party and celebrate your business’s and teams’ achievements this year.
Project Management On Demand supplies skilled Project Management professionals to digital businesses when they are needed most. Working remotely or in-house, our PMs look after your key deliverables, mitigate issues, and keep your critical path on-track, and your clients happy. For more information on our services, visit www.projectmanagementod.co.uk/our-services