“Meet with your staff well before you take your vacation. Discuss what your team (or employees) should focus on throughout the holiday season.... Verify with your staff that there's a crystal clear understanding across the entire team.”
JORDAN COHEN, EMPLOYEE PRODUCTIVITY EXPERT AT PA CONSULTING GROUPIT BusinessEdgeDon Tennant15 December 2011
ITBusinessEdge reminded its readers to make their time count before heading out to holiday vacation – and to utilize five tips from Jordan Cohen, an expert in employee productivity at PA Consulting Group, to help ensure that their offices remain productive during their absence:
Jordan provided five ways for offices to continue to be productive when a manager takes holiday vacation – and why each works.
Here are Jordan’s five tips:
1. Start preparing now
Meet with your staff well before you take your vacation. Discuss what your team (or employees) should focus on throughout the holiday season/month. Break those activities into weekly or daily (as appropriate) tasks. Verify with your staff for crystal clear understanding across the entire team. Try a dry run. Ask your team to operate as if you are on vacation for a couple of days. Hold a meeting after the dry run to see how it went. Discuss what went well and why. Discuss the obstacles they experienced and why. Install procedures to address obstacles.
Why it works: Telling your staff what you expect to be accomplished while you are on vacation is helpful but not as good as showing them. Conducting dry-runs not only translates the communication into action, it also gives your staff the confidence in how to handle what is expected from them.
2. Prepare for possible situations
Prepare some scenarios you think might possibly emerge over the holiday season. Meet with your team and role play how they would handle each situation while you are on vacation.
Why it works: Conducting role-plays allows you to prepare your staff for situations that might occur. Even if they confront a situation you have not role-played, it will be close enough to one of your role-play scenarios and they will be able to adapt.
3. Use “Delay Delivery” Option
Remember that the behaviours you model are often the way your employees will behave. If you work on the weekend or holidays – your employees will feel obliged to respond. If you feel compelled to work and write emails over the holiday, then use the “delay delivery” option in your email system. This way you can clear your to-do list on your own time but deliver your emails/responses/requests at some point after the holiday.
Why it works: One of the most effective tools we have as managers is how we behave. If your employees only get absolutely critical emails from you on the weekends or holidays – over time that is how they will behave.
4. Take the Long View
If you are concerned that your staff may stand idle a few days after you leave for vacation, start thinking in terms of what needs to be accomplished by the end of January. Expand your planning and preparation from Tip One (above) through the end of January to ensure all the work gets done over the planning period.
Why it works: When you expand the time horizon, and therefore the amount of work that needs to be accomplished, your staff will be forced to thoughtfully plan the tasks and activities over the holiday period and beyond. This planning ultimately requires a list of what needs to be accomplished on a daily or weekly basis. You can then ensure that your staff is properly resourced to accomplish the work.
5. Be Clear to the Team
Let your staff know that you are not planning to work over the holiday. This is best done in a group meeting so everyone can hear the same message at the same time. If your staff has questions, your entire team can hear the questions and your answer. Nominate someone either on your staff or another manager to be available if your staff needs assistance. Outline clearly the critical situations under which they should contact you. Make sure your staff and nominee have a clear understanding of these critical situations.
Why it works: There is no substitute for being clear about your expectations. Communicating to your entire staff at the same time eliminates the misinterpretations that happen across several meetings. If you are not clear about your expectations – you will be disappointed every time.
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