The last month of the year is one of the busiest months of all. For most, it includes two major holidays, each with added family and community commitments. For business, it includes year-end project completion and financial reporting, combined with preparations for the new year. This often means a high level of work and other activities in a consolidated time frame.
It is no wonder you and your team might be feeling some stress.
A production company’s management team met in November to determine their goals for the next year. Their goal was to launch more products in Quarter 1 than they had ever launched before – exponentially more.
While the planning session was great, the timing was very, very wrong for their team, a lesson they would painfully come to learn in ensuing months.
In order to launch the new products by the end of Quarter 1, it meant their team had to do the majority of the planning, research, and development in December, the busiest time of the year. The stress was immense for all involved.
Their dedicated team pulled off the company’s biggest new product launch ever in Quarter 1…and then essentially fell apart at the seams.
Quality and morale plummeted. Sales decreased. And they could not recover.
All this happened because the expectations were unrealistic.
What appeared to be a quality, morale, and sales issue was, in reality, a leadership/strategy issue.
How can you set realistic expectations for your company and your team?
1. Plan farther ahead.
December 10. That is the day one business owner received over 100 requests for new year projects from their business-owner clients, who then promptly began their holiday vacation. This is representative of the way many business owners do their year-end planning.
It is also very bad practice.
While companies must be agile in order to compete, agility should not be an endorsement for poor planning. It means planning ahead but with flexibility.
The last month of the year is not the time to start new initiatives. It is, as it should be, a time to wrap up the current year and finish the new year initiatives that were started in August or September.
Think of the impact this would have on your team – ending the year with the important goals finished and being set for the new year to begin. Not only does this help your team enjoy work-life balance; it also ensures the business is maintained well, with maintenance in good order and new initiatives ready to launch right out of the New Year’s gate.
2. Create reasonable timelines.
In order to create reasonable timelines, you must address more than just the stated end goal. You must break it down into milestones – what must be completed each month and each week, so you know you are on track.
Leaders tend to be big picture thinkers, as they should be; but leaders must also develop the level of detailed thinking that will help create reasonable timelines with their teams.
In the case of the November planners above, this level of detail could have prevented loss to the company. They would have known their timeline was unreasonable.
Creating a reasonable timeline also means working with and listening to your team to ensure the work can actually be done in the time allotted.
While this may seem to be a deterrent to high capacity production, in the end, it will enhance production and profitability.
3. Respect boundaries and balance.
Yes, employees should be expected to adhere to high standards of quality, efficiency, and production. Often, one of the best motivators in this regard is respect – respecting their need to have work-life balance and certain boundaries. While it may seem to be productive to expect your team to work even harder during the holidays than normal; it may end up being highly counter-productive. After all, employees are people; and people need respectful boundaries and balance.
Encouraging your employees to finish the year well and ensuring you have planned ahead enough for them to prepare for the first quarter in a reasonable amount of time creates and environment of loyalty and gratitude.
End the year well, and begin the new year with a strong, energized, and dedicated team. How do you this? Set realistic year-end expectations now.
For more resources on how you can you can set realistic expectations and create strong, productive teams, click here to learn about the Maxwell Method of Communication Impact Report.
As the CEO of Strength Leader Development, Deb Ingino is a highly sought-after international executive mentor, coach, trainer and speaker. Deb is well versed in global business operations and helps business leaders and their teams to discover and leverage their strengths, so they can create highly collaborative teams that deliver great results. With a refreshingly direct style, Deb helps leaders and their teams to deliver profitable results. Connect with Deb to learn more about her mentorship and coaching programs to equip you with advanced strategies to elevate your results.