Make November Highly Productive
In November, team leaders need to accomplish two parallel goals that can be complementary but are often in conflict:
- Keep the team moving towards the final outcomes desired in 2016
- Start the process of setting up Q1 2017 for a comfortably fast start.
In addition, administrative loose ends need tying up, particularly setting up a relatively painless annual review process, if your organization still requires them.
Added to the challenge is the looming Holiday Season, which now kicks in right after the tricks and treats of Halloween. To make the most of both months, make the most of the relative calm of early November. The time is now to act to set your team up to make these next two months a success.
As we recommend every year at this time, meet now with each employee to put plans in place to accomplish the following:
Refocus their immediate priorities
- Which assignments absolutely need to get done before the end of the year?
- Which need attention but will extend into 2016?
- Which are off the rails and cannot recover before January, and need to go back-burner?
How can you help them with each of these areas of focus? What resources or conversations can you have with other group leaders to help move projects along?
Set up their Holiday schedule
When does the employee need to be out of the office for personal events and traveling over the next eight weeks? Add all employee dates to a Master Team Holiday Schedule.
Give the employee two half-day passes for shopping and other holiday errands in December. A few hours off in the morning or afternoon gives the employee a chance to run errands while the rest of the world is at work. That sense of accomplishment may reduce employee stress, because both the personal and professional to-do lists are moving forward in a busy time of year.
Collaborate on obtaining a successful Performance Review
When January dawns, many of us will face the annual performance review process. Collaborate with each employee now to make that process less painful. Have a frank discussion about their progress, and put a plan in place to make progress in areas of lesser performance.
- Target the completion of key projects by year-end.
- Start collecting proof of each employee’s progress for the year
- Find the gaps in the performance record that need filling, to avoid rushing around in January to create “proofs of performance” after the fact.
Work with Superiors on First Quarter priorities
While your team works on finishing off 2015 in style, you need to keep laying the groundwork for 2016 with your boss and his or her superiors. The 2016 strategic plan should be done (one hopes!)
- Ask for the information you need to prepare your team and your collaborative teams for the new priorities.
- Start lining up the connections and resources you and your team think you will need to get started quickly once on the first Monday in January.
Overall, you really want to use November to set up a festive, joyous, not-to-stressful December by laying out exactly what needs to get done, and how much time each employee needs for personal holiday events. Reduce workplace stress. Make it a group project with your team to strike the right balance of Holiday work and play!